Umgeni Valley Nature reserve Hot
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Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve lies in the heart of the KwaZulu Natal midlands and is best known for being the home of WESSA and the spectacular gorge with the Howick Falls. It comprises of a rolling plateau of grasslands and mixed with woodlands that fall into a steep sided gorge through which the umgeni river cuts. 

The reserve is host to an impressive variety of birdlife and in springtime the veld is covered in numerous flowering species. Wildlife is generally relaxed with Burchelles Zebra, impala, warthog and Blesbok being the most frequently encountered. Insect life is equally well represented with butterflies being particularly abundant. There is an indigenous tree trail surrounding the main Education Centre and self-guided walks mingling with the game animals cut through Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve.



Best Time to Photograph
Given the steepness of much of the reserve, which causes deep shadows, it is worth making repeated visits in both the early morning and late evening. Mornings are best for photographing from the road, while afternoons are best for hiking through the reserve. During spring and summer migrant birds are plentiful and flowering plants are common in the grasslands.
Type of Photography
  • Birds
  • Flowers
  • Landscapes
  • Insects
Best Time of Year
  • Summer
  • Spring
Photographic Tips
Birds are generally shy in this reserve and therefore driving slowly along the road is advisable. Game is far more relaxed and it is possible to either photograph them on foot or from a vehicle. The self-guided walks provide the best opportunities for photographing the flowering plants, landscapes and insects.
Recommended Gear
Long telephoto lens are a must for bird photography but a range of telephoto lenses are best used when hiking. A tripod and macro lens are advisable for insect and flower photography. Be sure to carry weather protective gear, sunscreen and extra water when hiking.


Season and Weather
Summer months are warm with afternoon thunderstorms while winters can be cold
Other Activities
  • Hiking
  • Birding
  • Game Viewing
  • Flowers


Closest Town
Getting There
The Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve is easily accessible being only 1 km from Howick. It lies on the road to Karkloof and is well signposted.
Howick Falls


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Peter Chadwick
Author: Peter ChadwickWebsite: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
As a dedicated conservationist, Peter Chadwick has 30 years strategic and operational conservation experience in terrestrial and marine protected area management. He has worked within all of the major biomes in southern Africa as well as having provided expert conservation advice at a global level. His conservation and wildlife photography is a natural extension to his conservation work where he has numerous opportunities to capture photographs that showcase the beauty and complexity of the outdoors. Peter’s photography is internationally recognized, with this work appearing globally in a wide range of print and electronic media.