One of the region’s most striking natural features, the Valley of a 1000 Hills follows the Umgeni River for 65 km, from the flat-topped sandstone hill east of Pietermaritzburg dubbed, Natal Table Mountain, to the Indian Ocean.
The valley is utilised to the full by locals and visitors who want to immerse themselves in the emerald splendour of this up-and-down landscape.
Summer temperatures in the valley can grow very high, but those brave enough to climb to the apex of Natal Table Mountain are rewarded with breathtaking views, stretching all the way to the ocean in the east and to the Drakensberg Mountains in the west.
Adventure And Sport
Comrades Marathon: This gruelling 86-km ultra-marathon is run annually between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
Dusi Canoe Marathon: Every January, contestants race each other down the Dusi and Umgeni Rivers, battling each other and the racing rapids.
Hiking: The valley is traversed by several hiking trails. Follow the trail along the edge of the awesome Kloof Gorge in the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve, or follow the river into the indigenous forest.
Microlights: The microlight club operates from the Cato Ridge airstrip. The club offers training sessions and also takes visitors up in the air to enjoy the scenery.
Paragliding: The ridges and cliffs of the area provide ample updraufts that allow paragliders to soar the skies for hours.
Rock climbing: The Valley of a 1000 Hills claims to have some of the country’s top rock climbing spots. These include the renowned crags at Monteseel and Isithumba that look out over the Umgeni River and the Shongweni Crags that include the Wave Cave.
Water sport: Water enthusiasts enjoy the sailing, angling and canoeing at Inanda Dam and Shongweni Dam.
Phezulu Safari Park: The park has a replica of a typical Zulu village that gives visitors an insight into the Zulu lifestyle, allows them to see their living quarters and the utensils they use inside their beehive-shaped huts. Traditional lunches are available and Zulu dances are performed.
Fauna And Flora
Clive Cheesman Nature Reserve: The Moss Ingweni Trail starts in the reserve that features patches of riverine forest and grassland.
Crestholme Nature Reserve: This relatively small reserve offers magnificent views of the Umgeni Valley.
Glenholme Nature Reserve: Home to a small variety of mammals and birds, the reserve encompasses forests, grasslands and a swamp. The dam at the lower end falls away into a waterfall.
Inanda Resort Reserve: The reserve is home to several small mammals, zebra and a variety of birds. There are self-guided trails and opportunities for water sport and bass-angling.
Krantzkloof Nature Reserve: The small reserve is rich in fauna and flora, with both grassland and forest habitats. It is also a popular rock-climbing venue.
Nagle Resources Reserve: The reserve offers both day facilities as well as an overnight bush lodge often visited by impala and zebra. The warm-water fish hatchery is an interesting extra.
New Germany Nature Reserve: New Germany features exquisite stands of proteas, as well as patches of coastal bush and grassland habitats. Four trails traverse the reserve. Several animals have been reintroduced into the area including nyala, reedbuck, impala, steenbok and zebra.
Raptor Display: Observe raptors such as barn owls, falcons and kites soar over the Umgeni Valley and demonstrate their hunting techniques.
Paradise Valley Nature Reserve: The paradise valley waterfall is reputed to be one of the most beautiful settings is the Durban area. In fact, Durban’s original water supply works were situated above the waterfall. Many reptiles, birds and antelopes are residents of this coastal forest.
Roosfontein Nature Reserve: Visitors can follow the paths to the picnic spots located along the river’s edge. This newly opened reserve plays host to grey duiker, vervet monkey and banded mongoose.
Shongweni Resources Reserve: Nestled in the heart of the Ntshongweni Valley, the reserve contains a wide variety of game and is reputed to be one of the top bird sanctuaries in the country. The dam was constructed in 1927 and the reserve has a number of different habitats, including grasslands, valley, bushveld and cliffs. Nature trails, game drives and horse-riding are on offer.
Umgeni Steam Railway (“Inchanga Choo Choo”): Train excursions to Inchanga take place on the last Sunday of every month from January to November. The trips depart from Kloof Railway Station.