Giba Gorge Nature Reserve Hike. 22 Nov. 2020
Leader: Brian Henwood
Report: Penny Purchase
Photos: Penny, Libby, Margret, Ali, Rebecca, Vanessa.

[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]

What an amazing hike! Tall waterfalls, rippling cascades, sparkling streams, thick indigenous bush, forests with tangled vines, bike and hiking trails ... add a giant forest cicada, Natal bluebells, colourful fungi on trees, mushrooms in leaf mould, streptocarpus on rocks ... add tall concrete pillars and bridges and a guide who can explain engineering feats simply ... add a coffee shop and a shady picnic spot ... add a warm summer day... add a jolly company of 12 eager hikers. This hike had all the elements of a magical hike. Thank you, Brian, for this gem of a hike in gorgeous tropical vegetation but also so close to the suburbs of Durban. And only 40 minutes from Maritzburg.

We met at the St Helier Rd entrance. Brian led us along narrow paths, some quite steep, some quite slippery and opening up into broad forest paths. We meandered along a circular route including green, yellow and red trails. We were happy to just follow our leader! Suddenly we came upon the spectacular MacIntosh Falls, over 70 m high. We enjoyed catching the spray and cooling off and having a snack break. Ali, always the adventurer, in her miraculous waterproof hiking shoes, ventured close to the base of the falls... watched admiringly by her less intrepid fellow hikers.

Brian then led us under the N3 viaduct and gave us a fascinating explanation of the construction process in putting the N3 bridges together. Then it was boots off and we waded across a rushing river and nobody fell in. After passing some light industries and a tepee business, we emerged into open space and an attractive well treed picnic area for the public. There was a coffee shop nestled into the hill slope and a bike park. Here, hot and tired, we could buy cool refreshments to add to our packed lunches. We enjoyed our meal together at a big table with long benches, in very civilised fashion - not our usual perch on an unsteady rock or log with insects ready to nip you. But there were some other hazards - we were warned about snakes and some of us were stung on arms and legs from nettles and stinging plants - but that all goes with hiking in the bush, doesn't it?

Thank you, Brain, for leading us through the magnificent Giba Gorge Nature Reserve. The people managing the reserve claim to be "Custodians of our Natural Heritage" (from the website).How true this claim is. I thoroughly recommend this new 4 1/2 hour hike, with engineer Brian as the leader. I hope it appears regularly on our fixture list.

Pic 1: Rippling cascades
Pic 3: More pretty cascades
Pic 2: On the hill slope
Pic 4: Taking a break after climbing the hill above the highway
Pic 5: Beautiful MacIntosh Falls with Margret and Ali.
Pic 6: Beautiful hiking group at beautiful falls.
Pic 7: Cautiously crossing the rushing river
Pic 8: "Stop and smile girls.... you won't fall in"

Pic 9. Half way there, Penny!
Pic 10 : Engineer Brain explains the construction of the highway bridges to his rapt audience
Pic 11: Pillars of strength
Pic 12: Amazing engineering viewed from down under
Pic 13: Brian, our engineer hiker- guide, teacher and friend

Pic 14: Found: a fascinating insect on a tree
Pic 15: A giant forest cicada - thanks to Este for researching and finding its identity
Pic 16: The pretty indigenous Natal bluebells
Pic 17: The dainty pale orange flowers of the streptocarpus
Pic 18: Fungi clinging to the trunk of this tree in the forest.
Pic 19: Tucking into lunch at a table and bench in the public picnic area, very civilised for hikers.
Pic 20: The broad forest paths were welcome on the homeward stretch
Pic 21: Guess the 3 backsides?
Pic 22: Bubbling streams all the way

Pic 23: Map of the amazing trail network of the Giba Gorge Nature Reserve