This is a perfect excuse to get out of bed on a Sunday morning (or any other morning). Pack a light lunch and plenty of liquids and head out to Krantzkloof Nature Reserve, sandwiched between Pinetown and Kloof in Durban. The reserve was established in 1950 by the Natal Parks Board, but is now managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
Krantzkloof is so close to home, yet it takes you so far away. The hustle and bustle of everyday life and the stress that goes with it is all behind you. You are one with nature when you embark on this hike and hear the sound of rustling leaves and the crackling of dry twigs under your feet. You are thankful to be alive and appreciating the simple things that nature has to offer.
Sometimes you will find the stillness of nature being interrupted by crickets chirping or birds singing. Then everything goes still again. A word of advice, try not to walk in large groups because you tend to lose the serenity of this amazing place.
My husband and I opted for the Mpiti Trail, also called the Black Trail, which is one of the shorter ones, a mere 45 minutes hike that leads you to the Ipithi Falls. It has moderate uphill climbing, but not too much. Then you finally reach the Ipithi Falls, – it is a vision to behold. You reach a state of tranquility when you sit and listen to the sound of the falls and feel the gentle spray on your skin, which is so refreshing and welcoming after that hike. The area has a total of nine waterfalls. (Swimming is prohibited in the reserve as bilharzia might be present in the rivers.)
On the day that we hiked, it was a scorcher (31 degrees Celsius!), but we did not burn or even feel the full intensity of the heat. The varied vegetation, which is a mixture of trees and shrubbery form a canopy with little sunshine or intense heat coming through while hiking. Every now and then we would get a gust of wind, which was such a welcome relief.
There was a pleasant couple we met en-route with two charming little girls. The older one, who couldn’t have been more than five years old, simply refused to take another step. I remember when mine were at that age (which was many moons ago), complaining about being tired and refusing to walk, until we eventually carried them. We exchanged pleasantries and continued with our hike. The little one got her way and dad carried her on his shoulder.
Further along, delightful cries from excited children could be heard from afar. Upon closer inspection we noticed these exuberant children had lifted some rocks and found scorpions underneath, which I, am certainly not a fan of – and quite surprisingly, the children were fearless. I have heard that scorpions are poisonous and produce venom. All of them look deadly, but only a few can do real damage. Sometimes I think children are better informed than us adults.
Use comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots and always break them in before your hike. Heading out in brand new footwear can be disastrous and a very unpleasant and uncomfortable experience. I had just bought the shoes I was wearing the afternoon before and didn’t have the time for a ‘test-drive,’ so I know this for a fact.
The reserve boasts an abundance of wildlife which includes bushbuck, blue, red and grey duiker, vervet monkeys, zebra, mongoose, rock badger and genet. Unfortunately, we were not so lucky in spotting any wildlife – having taken the hike on a Sunday which is always the busiest, and that’s when the animals go into hiding. Trips to the reserve are always well worth it though.
Various multi-coloured butterflies of all types can be seen all over. It seemed somehow as though they were pointing out the path which we should take. Of course, it was just my imagination playing tricks on me. Birdlife is also abundant with well over 200 species on record.
Guided walks are scheduled for the first and third Sunday of every month at a cost of R20.* The first Sunday is a more challenging six hour walk and is recommended for fit walkers and the third Sunday is a three hour walk that is more relaxed and can be enjoyed by all. There are six other trails besides the Mpiti Trail which we took, the longest being the Orange Trail which takes about six hours to complete and the shortest called the Red Trail which can be completed in half an hour. Hikers don’t always finish in the estimated time frame as they make several stops to soak in the experience and the picturesque sights. Whenever you can, rest, take in the spectacular views, take pictures, have a sip to quench your thirst, take in nature’s sounds and smells and breathe in the fresh air into your lungs.
After an arduous hike, you can kick off your shoes and relax in one of the two grassy picnic sites with a large pond.
*Krantzloof Nature Reserve is open 365 days a year but at time of writing was operating at reduced hours. Call ahead to be on the safe side.