Umgeni Valley day Hike, 13 January 2013

Photos & comment by Rod Hart

UMGENI VALLEY NATURE RESERVE - near Howick - Described as a lovely local day hike in a beautiful area - great views & chance to see plenty of game & bird life. This was a combined hike with Mountain Backpackers led by Keith Ashton with 22 participant hikers. As the road within the reserve was wet and the low level bridge flooded vehicles were not allowed further than the reception area so a couple of extra km's were added to our hiking distance which ended up being 22.2km (as per Dave Sclanders Garmin at the end of the hike). We saw plenty of zebra on the hike, a herd of wildebeest, and some impala in the distance and some warthog. As my photos show I was also able to get quite close to a lone wildebeest that was with a herd of zebra

Photo 1:Signing in at reception (among the zebra)
Photo 2:Mother & child posing
Photo 3:Magnicicent mane
Photo 4:Keith calls the hikers to order
Photo 5:Dave offering to carry bags for cash (Cash & Carry)

Photo 6:White water cascade just down from what will be our first water crossing
Photo 7:Sawn up up pine tree (approx 50 yrs old if you count the rings!) at what was a shaded picnic spot - now after last Sunday's storm somewhat less shaded.
Photo 8-11: Different views of crossing the stream at the flooded low level bridge
Photo 12:and off up the hill

Photo 13-14:Water thundering over the Howick Falls
Photo 15:Flower
Photo 16:Looking back up the valley towards Howick
Photo 17:Rapids in the Umgeni
Photo 18:"Amber View"

Photo 19:The trails leads us into the forest
Photo 20:Rustic bridge
Photo 21:The trail
Photo 22:Looking back up the Umgeni
Photo 23:Some brightly coloured drums alongside the river
Photo 24-26:We thread our way along the contour path going down the valley

Photo 27-28:Morning tea-time stop at one of the camps

Photo 29:Tranquil stream above our path
Photo 30:Muddy tracks

Photo 31-35: A most welcome lunch break, among several interesting strangler figs trees

Photo 36: A herd of Wildebeest eye us out
Photo 37:One of many drink breaks in the sought after shade
Photo 38:...and we are off again
Photo that didn't make it out of the reserve
Photo 40:Some opted to detour down to the river, others including Peter and Christie seen here opted to conserve their energy
Photo 41:I attempt some slightly soft focus macro photography!

Photo 42:Wildebeest on the ridge
Photo 43:Widebeest & zebra watching out for each other
Photo 44:Magnificent wildebeest
Photo 45:Zebra on along our road home
Photo 46:Walking among the zebra
Photo 47-48:Zebra hanging around while we have a rest stop

Photo 49:I get back to a flat tyre! Thanks Neville, and others, but mainly Neville for helping out with getting the spare on
Photo 50: After the hike, a quick stop off at the Falls observation point in Howick