Once you have checked into the North Star Micro Hotel in Umhlanga rocks, it is time to choose an exciting activity. You are escaping the winter cold and embrace the North Coast winter sun. There is nothing better than to go for a morning hike into the scenic nature reserve to enjoy the sunshine. You walk toward the Umhlanga promenade from the North Star Micro Hotel and make your way towards the nature reserve boardwalk.
Once you enter the nature reserve, an unspoiled lagoon forest home to birds, wildlife, trees, plants and small animal species welcome you.
The Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve Hike
Umhlanga lagoon is a twenty-six hectares nature reserve on the shore of the Indian Ocean in Umhlanga Rocks, South Africa. The reserve encloses the Ohlanga River’s lagoon and the river mouth, with the forest forming a natural extension of the Hawaan Forest.
The reserve has picnic sites, ancient remains of a prehistoric shell midden, walking trails with a walkway and a pedestrian bridge covering the lagoon. At the mouth of the Ohlanga lagoon, there is a famous but unofficial nudist beach. Today it is a bit of a controversial issue.
Your walk to the lagoon is an ideal weekend or mid-week hike. The hike is not complicated or too long. It is a great way to enjoy the outdoor nature trail right on the edge of Umhlanga.
Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve is a protected wilderness with a wetland and dune forest that serves as a home for many birds, animals, and plants. The walk begins at the gates, directly across from the Breakers Hotel on Lagoon Drive. You will pass the picnic area and walk down a wooden boardwalk before heading into a beautiful section of coastal forest.
Your hike might take a little longer than anticipated if you stop to study all of the labelled trees. Look out for the five-hundred-year-old white stinkwood. There are many attractive labelled trees to learn about on your walk, like the coastal red milkwood.
The forest is also home to bushbuck, duiker and other species. If you walk quietly, you might catch a glimpse of all the wildlife in the nature reserve. The nature reserve borders the beach in Umhlanga, which is peaceful and less crowded than all the other Durban beaches. The lagoon is on one side and the sea on the other, a calm nature space for a hike.
From the beach, you have several choices.
- You can reverse the walk to return.
- Extend the walk, head north up the coast for as long as you wish before retracing your steps.
About Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve
The Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve is a magical piece of wilderness at the mouth of the Ohlange River, famous for a picnic and a walk along the wooden boardwalk right in the heart of Umhlanga Rocks.
Did you know that Umhlanga is Zulu for “place of reeds”?
Many reeds grow on the banks of the Ohlange River in the nature reserve. The Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve is a sanctuary for wildlife, wetlands and coastal forest species. The nature trails are spectacular, leading you through the dune forest, across the lagoon and onto the beach. If you own a pair of binoculars, sling them over your shoulder for the hike. The Umhlanga Ponds lie beyond the nature reserve preserved piece of ancient forest known as Hawaan Forest.
The Hawaan Forest is in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It is a large piece of unspoiled nature on a dry coastal dune forest and the last of its kind. The forest grows on a dune that dates back eighteen thousand years. The Wildlife and Environment Society of Southern Africa (WESSA) protects the forest. The Tongaat Hulett Group owns the forest. The Hawaan Forest is under protection since 1860 and one of the most exclusive estates in the country.
What is a Shell Midden?
At the lagoon, the mouth is the remains of a Stone Age sea shell midden. A shell midden is an old heap consists of animal bone, botanical material, mollusc shells, and other artefacts associated with ancient human life. These features provide a valuable resource for archaeologists to study the diets and habits of past tribes.
Birdlife and Wilflife
There are over two hundred and eight bird species in the Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve. The protected lagoon ecosystem is also home to the shy blue and grey duiker, bushbuck and hundreds of other smaller species. The birdlife in the nature reserve is vast. Waterbirds are prolific, and you can spot herons, fish eagles, African rails and warblers on your walk. The shyer birds like the Narina trogon, forest weaver, robins and tinker barbets are more challenging to spot in the thicker bush of the forest.
Why the Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve is a bird watcher paradise
On a clear early morning, you can spot Black-throated Wattle-eyes in the early light. As you walk along the boardwalk, there is a lot of birdlife activity. It might be challenging to focus on each bird you spot. You will see yellow weavers, spectacled weaver, dark-capped yellow warbler, red-faced cisticola, and thick-billed weavers if you are lucky. On the boardwalk close to the dunes, the birdlife activity is active despite the morning runners passing you on the way.
You can spot black-throated wattle-eyes, African paradise flycatchers, yellow-bellied greenbuls, and both male and female Southern Boubous on the path leading into the dune forest.
Walking through the dune forest, you might hear the calls and spot a Burchell’s coucal and a crested flycatcher. There are also red-capped robin chats in the lagoon forest and both male and female southern boubous in the lagoon forest. In the quiet section leading toward the beach, watch out for Blacksmith Lapwings. On the beach, little bee-eaters often gather on a single bush in the dunes. At the same time, while you walk to the edge of the lagoon, you could spot four Woolly-necked storks, three-banded plovers and grey herons.
Walking along the beach, watch out for single cape gannets and swift terns. Walking back to the picnic area with the sun rising higher, you might see fewer birds. Keep a lookout for brown-crowned tchagra, little swifts, tawny-flanked prinias and dark-capped bulbuls to add to your list.
Daily Walks in the Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve
Daily guided walks through Umhlanga Lagoon nature start at 9 am, 11 am and 3 pm and takes approximately an hour and a half. You can ask at the Breakers Hotel reception area for assistance.
Read the following information to enjoy the peaceful walk on the well-maintained boardwalk and wild Lagoon nature reserve.
About Umhlanga Lagoon hiking trail
Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, opposite Breakers Hotel
It is a two-kilometre walk which will take you just over an hour to complete.
Easy, the walk is perfect for children and families.
For more information and a guided version of the walk, contact Breakers Hotel.
Need to Know Where
Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, Umhlanga, Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
The reserve is open daily from 06h00 to 17h00.
To get in touch contact.
+27 (0)31 205-1271
Contact the North Star Micro Hotel to reserve your room and enjoy all the sunny activities in Umhlanga Rocks.
T: 076 611 4592
26 Eastmoor Crescent, Umhlanga Rocks, Umhlanga, 4320