Cumberland Nature Reserve hike - Sunday 16th October 2011

Report by Christie Exall

On Sunday, 6 hikers braved the rain and did an easy 12.5 km hike at Cumberland Nature Reserve, outside Pietermaritzburg on the way towards Table Mountain.

We set off thru the immaculately kept picnic area, crossed a well made wooden bridge and then onto the Horseshoe Trail. A pleasant walk, thru bushy terrain, towards the river.

Here the owner, John Benn's weekend cottage is nearing completion, with the Cumberland trademark 'donkey boiler' installed on the verandah. The rocky low cliff across the river brought back memories of hikers 'fuffy sliding' across the river to where we were standing. With the rumour of crocodiles in the river, this activity came to a halt.

Keith pointed out the resident Python's lair, being careful not to lose a leg!

We spotted the two young Giraffe amongst the trees, who seemed unafraid of us and posed very nicely for some photos.

The Gorge Trail treated us to wonderful scenery from high above to the Umgeni River below, as well as spectacular views of the waterfall. Brave Moira teetered on the edge of the cliff for a photo.

After a break for tea, we set off for the high Kranz some 4km in the distance. Here we enjoyed our lunch and again taking in the scenery across the river.

Then we headed home, downhill all the way. By this time, the rain had stopped and the animals came out to play. We saw herds of Blesbuck and Impala, Zebra, Bluewildebeest and a dead, headless snake.

Cumberland Nature Reserve enjoyed Natural Heritage Status, dictated by the natural vegetation, topography and diverse animal population. Unfortunately and sadly this status was revoked by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife after the year 2000, the reason being political!! Fortunately John and Stella Benn is passionate about upholding this status and the evidence is clearly to be seen while hiking thru this pristine Nature Reserve. Accommodation is very reasonable, clean and comfortable. Attached is a map for directions to Cumberland.

Keith, Margaret, Lee, Moira and myself would like to thank John Fourie for safely leading us on this pleasant hike.