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Ntsikeni Nature Reserve, Natal Midlands, KwaZulu-Natal

Ntsikeni Nature Reserve, Midlands, KwaZulu-Natal

Ntsikeni Nature Reserve is situated in the southern area of KwaZulu-Natal about 50km north of Kokstad between the Midlands and East Griqualand near the source of the Lubhukwini River. Although it is relatively unknown and therefore unspoilt, this amazing, diverse landscape is one of the most interesting in the country. It is 9200ha in extent and features the largest inland wetlands in South Africa (1070ha), striking mountains, sheer cliffs, unusual rock formations and buttresses and rocky cliff faces, rolling grasslands and patches of indigenous forest unique to the area. The Ntsikeni Vlei has achieved the status of a RAMSAR conservation site.

The reserve is a very important bird watching spot – it is one of the only areas where one may spot the Eurasian Bittern and the endangered Wattled Crane. Other interesting species likely to be spotted include the African Marsh Harrier, Denham’s Bustard, Purple Heron, Montague’s Harrier, Bearded Vulture, Cape Eagle Owl and the Secretary Bird. Altogether 60 species have been recorded.

A new road and a lodge has been opened making the reserve more accessible to the public and there are excellent opportunities for hiking, mountain biking and of course, birding. Ntsikeni Lodge is run by a local community trust and comprises four family chalets with 16 beds (a double bed downstairs and 2 singles upstairs all share a bathroom). All bedding and towels supplied. There is a fitted communal kitchen with stove, fridge and deepfreeze, and dining area with fireplace. Lighting is by means of lamps and candles. The 2200km MTB Freedom Trail passes through the reserve on the way from Pietermaritzburg to the final destination, Cape Town. There are also a number of Khoisan rock paintings in the reserve and guides are available to take visitors on an interesting journey through the cultural history of the area.

For more information contact the park warden at: +27 (0)82 432 2611

Getting there: the reserve is accessible via the towns of Franklin and Creighton. From Creighton, go west on the Riverside/Franklin Road for approximately 39km and turn right into the reserve. From Franklin take the road to Riverside and turn left at the Ntsikeni Nature Reserve sign.

More info on the area of Natal Midlands More info on the KwaZulu-Natal area