One of the finest ways to get outside is to spend a day strolling among the coastal bush and grasslands while taking in the plethora of wildlife. Durban has an incredible variety of landscapes, animals, and plants just waiting to be discovered. This guide was created for you if you want to see the Big Five, hike the trails, or learn more about the diverse world of coastal living. There are many nature reserves in Durban waiting for you to explore and have some memories.
If you’re thinking about visiting the Durban region or have already booked your Durban accommodations, you’re undoubtedly curious in the activities and things to do in the area, as well as visiting some Durban nature reserves. Take a look at our growing list of things to do in Durban.
Nature Reserves in Durban
Virginia Bush Nature Reserve
This 38-hectare reserve in Durban’s suburbs is home to coastal bush and is a popular bird-watching destination.
A few walking pathways in the lower, less-known portion are ideal for a relaxed stroll with your pets. The round route around the reserve is only 1.5 kilometres long, however we recommend allocating about 2.5 hours to amble around it.
The Durban Metropolitan Open Space System manages this reserve at the moment. Only a few small patches of grassland remain from what was once natural grassland. The Virginia Bush is a birder’s dream, with many of bush birds to see. Green twinspot, grey waxbill, Natal robin, whitebrowed robin, boubou shrike, bush shrike, flycatcher, and bluebilled firefinch are some of the bird species to be observed. There are also blue duiker, spotted genet, and mongoose to be seen.
Beachwood Mangrove Nature Reserve
The Beachwood Mangrove Nature Reserve is located in Durban North, at the mouth of the Umgeni River.
The reserve, which covers 76 hectares of natural estuarine systems, including mangrove swamp forest and estuarine habitat, was established in 1977. An activity centre and a thatched gazebo are located in the reserve’s southern section, near the Umgeni estuary, and are available to educational and other interested groups.
There is a boardwalk that meanders through the mangrove forest, providing a great opportunity to see wildlife and explore the adjacent estuary; you might even see some of the many crabs that are reported to live there. The reserve is one of the top nature reserves in Durban.
Paradise Valley Nature Reserve
The Umbilo Waterworks, a national monument, is located within the Paradise Valley Nature Reserve, which spans 100 hectares of coastal and residual grassland.
The reserve has four paths that begin at the Interpretive Centre and lead down past the picnic area to some stunning scenery and the waterfall.
Any of the pathways will take you around 20 minutes to walk to the waterfall; a hike that is well worth it. There’s a flat rock excellent for a relaxed picnic in the sun, as well as the Bushbuck walk and the old dam wall. Walking downstream on the Umbilo River’s right bank, you’ll soon come to a bridge where the Bushbuck route enters from the left. A bit farther on, you’ll come upon the ruins of the historic old dam wall, beyond which is a lovely flat rock that’s ideal for a picnic. Before walking under the N3 highway, you pass by some antique filter tanks. The Duiker route enters from the right; ignore it for now, but keep in mind that you’ll need to return to this location once you’ve seen the falls.
Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve
The Kenneth Stainbank Reserve, located near to Yellowwood Park, has excellent coastal forests and grassland habitats for a variety of wildlife and flora.
This reserve is a must-visit if you’re seeking for a day of adventure! A journey to the Kenneth Stainbank Reserve will not disappoint, with zebra, bushbuck, impala, over 200 bird species, and a secret castle on offer.
If you want to get some exercise, the reserve has 13 kilometres of nature hikes and a 10-kilometer mountain biking track. There is a cost to enter the park, and maps as well as plant and animal lists are available at the entrance gate.
Bluff Nature Reserve
The Bluff Nature Reserve, one of Durand’s oldest wildlife reserves, contains protected pan and woodland regions. The reserve’s two bird hides provide excellent birding possibilities, and there is a self-guided walk that winds around the pan and provides an excellent opportunity to see the reserve’s rich flora and animals.
The field ranger can provide you with a detailed bird list, and if you’re lucky, you might see the huge musk shrew, hottentot golden mole, vervet monkey, multimammate mouse, grey climbing mouse, angoni vlei rat, large spotted genet, and banded mongoose.
New Germany Nature Reserve
The modest New Germany Nature Reserve, located on Mountain Ridge Road (which becomes Methven Road) in the midst of New Germany’s suburbia, is only a twenty-minute drive from Durban’s city centre. The reserve is located on a hill overlooking Pinetown and New Germany, as the street’s name suggests.
The reserve may be small, but it accurately touts itself as “fauna on your doorstep” and lives up to its billing. The reserve is conveniently located for locals to enjoy late-afternoon and weekend walks (without dogs, as the wildlife is protected), and it is open from 7.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day of the year, save Christmas.
The reserve is part of the broader New Germany Commonage, which began in 1948 as a farm known as Clermont. On the north side of Mountain Ridge Road, there is a nature park with a walk-through aviary with mostly local species and a live snake exhibit, and on the south side, there is the nature reserve proper.
Krantzkloof Nature Reserve
This natural reserve, which is approximately 4 kilometres from the centre of Kloof village and around 20 minutes from Durban, was founded by the Natal Parks Board in 1950 and is home to a diverse range of wildlife.
The Krantzkloof Nature Reserve offers breathtaking views of the Molweni River’s forested gorge. The dense forest and plants cover the majority of the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve’s 532 hectares. Krantzkloof is arguably one of the best nature reserves in Durban.
The well-developed picnic area near to the dam at the head of Kloof Falls is the reserve’s most well-known attraction. At the location, the Parks Board has built a Conference Center. Following Kloof Falls Road will lead you to this location. After leaving the picnic area, visitors can travel to Bridle Road and take in the breathtaking views from two well-marked viewpoints.
Burman Bush Nature Reserve
The reserve, which is located in the Morningside district, offers three distinct pathways to choose from. The Hadeda route is a local favourite since it is lined with lush trees that provide much-needed shade from the sun.
There is a variety of species to be seen, and ardent bird watchers will like these paths. The following are some of the animals that can be found in the area:
- Lanner Falcon
- Purple Crested Turaco
- Spotted Eagle Owl
- Paradise Flycatcher
- Buff Spotted Fluff Tail
- Blue Duiker
- Various butterfly species
- Vervet Monkeys
Keep a check on your belongings if you have any loose monkeys, as they are infamous thieves. There are also braai and picnic facilities on the reserve for you and your family to enjoy.
Umhlanga Nature Reserve
The trail starts in the parking lot and leads you on an interesting journey through varied terrain. The wooden boardwalk brings you across the Ohlange River, through a dense forest, and out onto the sand, with the beautiful lagoon on one side and the ocean on the other.
A clandestine naked splash can be had on a quiet and less-frequented beach. Whether you’re going to the beach or just for a stroll, Umhlanga will not let you down.
The reserve also extends to the Drakensberg Mountains (commonly known as the “Dragon Mountains” in English), Limpopo’s tallest mountain range. If you wish to tackle one of the challenging mountain hiking trails, make sure to hire a guide.
Durban Botanical Gardens
If hiking isn’t your idea of a fun day outside, why not pay a visit to Africa’s oldest surviving botanical gardens? Many endangered species, such as palms and cycads, can be found in the garden, which is home to a diverse range of indigenous and exotic plant life.
The University of Technology’s Horticulture department collaborates with the Durban Botanical Gardens to provide a thorough, hands-on educational experience. In the subtropics, it’s a paradise.