KwaZulu Natal DestinationsDurban North, Durban
Just 15 minutes north of the city of Durban, on the northern side of the Umgeni River Mouth, is the upmarket area of Durban North and Umhlanga. Most of this beautiful part of the world was once a coastal dune forest system and there are still parts of it preserved in the Mangrove Swamps, and the Umgeni Bird Park bears testimony to the number of birds attracted to the area.
Umhlanga has recently been through a boom. Much of Durbanís big business has moved out to more modern business complexes and what was once Umhlanga Rocks village, with a sprinkling of cottages, hotels and guest houses, is today a thriving suburb and the playground of young and old who come here for the pristine beaches, hotels and sophisticated shopping malls.
Umhlangaís main beach is one of 24 beaches in South Africa with Blue Flag status, seven of which are in and around Durban. Heading down to the boardwalk, that passes the Umhlanga Lighthouse, a landmark of the area, is a daily affair for locals who walk their dogs or exercise along the beachfront in this way, although recent heavy seas wreaked havoc with part of it.
The Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, with surviving Stone Age sea shell midden at its lagoon mouth, provides a number of stunning trails and coastal forest boardwalks and the unique Hawaan forest and its neighbouring coastal wetlands, grasslands and dune forest is a beautiful place to visit and the backdrop to a groundbreaking environmental judgement that has limited rights to build houses here.