Umlalazi Nature Reserve

Umlalazi Nature Reserve is a strip of green on KwaZulu-Natal's north coast at the town of Mtunzini

KwaZulu Natal Game and Nature ReservesThe Umlalazi Nature Reserve

Umlalazi Nature Reserve is a strip of green on KwaZulu-Natal's north coast at the town of Mtunzini, roughly half an hour's drive from Richards Bay.

The Umlazi reserve is probably most famous for its protected group of Palmnut vultures, and the raphia palm forest, even if this (the forest) is strictly outside the reserve. But the boardwalk through the swamp forest that leads into the colony of palms is quite incredible and worth making a detour for.

Depending on the time of year, you might see the Palmnut vulture nesting near the top of the palms. Umlalazi Nature Reserve is part of the greater Siyaya Coastal Park (it forms the northern section) and protects about 42 km of coastline, encompassing the area from the mouth of the Mlalazi River in the north to the southern borders of the Amatikulu Nature Reserve in the south.

Umlalazi is a sublime breakaway for families, hikers and nature lovers and includes beaches, lagoons, dune forests and grasslands, as well as self-catering chalets and campsites, picnic sites and a series of trails.

What makes the Umlalazi Nature Reserve extra special is that it has one of the best examples of mangrove forest in the country, included on one of the shortest trails through the reserve that begins at the parking area at the lagoon, past John Dunn's Pool. Time your visit for the mating season of the fiddler crabs (the ones with one enlarged claw) and you will see many of them. But there are also mudskippers and, in winter, the mangrove kingfisher.

Other hikes in Umlalazi include the Siyaya Coastal Dune Forest Trail and the Mlalazi River mouth trail. Keep quiet enough and you may spot bushpig, bushbuck, red, grey and blue duiker, and keep your eyes peeled for birds.

Popular Attractions in Umlalazi Nature Reserve

Mtunzini trails

Hiking in the Umlazi Nature Reserve takes the form of a couple of hikes. But it is the easiest and shortest hike, a mere 15 minutes, that is regarded as one of its best. For it takes one through one of the most outstanding examples of mangrove forest...

More info and contact details: Mtunzini trails

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Did you know?

Other than hiking in Umlalazi Nature Reserve there are various places to picnic and fish.

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