“Take a hike” may be yelled as an insult, but the reality couldn’t be further from it! Hiking along nature trails offers terrific benefits for your physical and mental health and well-being:
- Just one hour of hiking can burn well over 500 calories. Nature trails are gentler on ankle and knee joints than asphalt or concrete.
- Regular hiking can help to control, or even prevent, diabetes by lowering your blood sugar levels.
- It lowers blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Spending time outdoors can increase your attention span and problem-solving skills by as much as 50%.
- Disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature brings about peace and a sense of well-being.
Some of the best nature trails in and around Umhlanga Rocks:
Beachwood Mangrove Nature Reserve
Situated near the Umgeni estuary, this 76 hectare reserve is a National Monument. The mangrove swamp forest is an important estuarine habitat at the mouth of the Umgeni River, allowing for plant and animal life viewing along a trail through this ecosystem. Highlights include a bird hide located along a trail, environmental education courses, guided canoeing trips through the mangroves
This unique indigenous woodland is a private reserve so you need to book a place on a guided walk held on Saturdays at 8am. This forest is remarkable in that is it one of the few examples of primeval forest left in South Africa. However, that is not all you will enjoy trailing this forest. Look out for bushpig, red and blue and grey duiker, banded and slender mongoose, velvet monkey, mamba and python; and the Umhlanga Ponds – one of the best birding sites on the coast.
Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve
Found on the southern bank of the Umhlanga River these two trails take you through an estuary, dune forest and coastal forest. Rest at one of the discreetly-placed benches or picnic spots while amongst bushbuck, blue and grey duiker, and numerous species of birds.