UMGENI VALLEY NATURE RESERVE
Sunday 27 August 2000
It was on a bright Sunday morning that 11 people gathered at the entrance of the Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve, a project managed by the Wildlife & Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA).
After registration we left at about 08h30. Our leader Keith directed us to the Indulo Car Park, some 6 kilometres inside the Reserve. The views en route along the Umgeni River Valley were magnificent.
We walked from the car park on the cement tracks leading down a steep incline, then off to the left to a million year old rock. Keith and Aris tried out the iron ladder and guide rope which took them to the top of this gigantic sized stone.
Soon after that we arrived at the Cycad Camp, one of the four rustic camps in the Reserve tucked in under huge rocks amongst the cycads.
On the way to the grasslands Warwick and David noted the spoor of animals while Brenda and Noel had eyes for the white blossoms of the wild pears and the unusual shape of the cabbage trees. We listened to the cackle and cry of the hornbill. By now we had entered the open grassland.
Lorraine drew our attention and encouraged us to speak in low voices or not at all. And there they were !! the game grazing at various spots – the zebras, the wildebeest, the impalas, a few other buck and in the distance under a tree, a lonely giraffe. I presume that the trained eyes of Campbell and Warwick saw a few more species. The four footers however were already alarmed and vanished as quickly as possible into the surrounding bush. Nevertheless Annika the tall German lass in our party operated her camera within a second like a professional.
I hope we will see her photographs sometime in the future; Keith might find out her e-mail and website address.
We carried on bundu bashing and sweating as we went along.
At about midday Keith and Margaret veered off to the left to sit down on the flat top of a huge overhanging rock. The Umgeni river was a few metres below. It was an ideal spot for hikers and couples who wish to be intimate.
Whilst eating our sandwiches, other nutritious food and drinking tea, we were entertained by weavers who had fallen in love and were building their ingenious nests. But alas it was time to move. Now up the path passing the Inkonka Camp and in a zig-zag fashion to the turn off to the Black Eagle Trail.
Black eagles were seen but because of my bi-focal glasses I missed them entirely. A few more kilometres walk and we got back to our cars quite content with what we had seen, relaxed and in a spirit of comradeship. The 12 kilometre walk had been worthwhile.
Thank you Keith for the organisation and the leadership.
I was back home at about 4.30pm and welcomed by Cina.