Enseleni Nature Reserve, KwaZulu Natal
The Enseleni Nature Reserve is a small reserve of 293 hectares lying just inland from the town of Richards Bay, almost midway between Empangeni and Richards Bay. Obviously it is a popular day's outing for visitors to the area, and the coastal grasslands and forest that dominate the reserve are particularly pretty and home to a thriving bird life.
The Nseleni River, from which the reserve gets its name and which means 'lair' or 'place of the badger', runs through the reserve and creates a beautiful haven for wildlife. The river languidly winds its way through the reserve, draining into the Insesi or Nsesi Lake, just beyond Richards Bay harbour.
Rare bird species are high on the agenda for many a bird lover headed out to Enseleni, and it is not unusual to spot the African finfoot, Pels fishing owl, purple crested lourie, white-eared barbet, and nightjars (Mozambique, fiery necked and European - all of which are pretty adroit at avoiding people). There are also a number of larger mammals such as giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, impala, waterbuck, bushpig, duikers and even hippos and crocs, that occupy the reserve. And whilst you cannot camp out here, there are some lovely picnic spots available and the activities centre, geared for education groups, is said to be excellent.
Although not a hiking mecca, there are two trails within Enseleni and the scenery alone on these walks is worth the visit. The Nkonkoni trail is under 5 kilometres, whilst the Mvubu trail is closer to 7 kilometres, both of which wind through the swamp forest. Whilst the entrance used to be free of charge, there is now a minimal entrance fee per person.