Explore the Splendor of Karkloof Nature Reserve
The Karkloof Nature Reserve is located in the verdant area of the Natal Midlands, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. This steep flat topped area of indigenous forest stretches from Rietvlei to Curry’s Post, a distance of 50 kilometers. The 88 meter high Karkloof Falls is an amazing sight which visitors can enjoy as they picnic or barbeque in the tree-shaded area surrounding the falls.
Because of its biodiversity, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has identified the greater Karkloof area as being of significant value in terms of conservation. The reserve currently consists of about 40% mist-belt grassland and 60% mist-belt forest, ranging from 1,000 to 1,767 meters above sea level. Numerous endemic and near-endemic species of fauna and flora thrive in this unique environment. These include a sub-species of crested guinea fowl and the Karkloof Blue butterfly. Marshall and crowned eagles nest and breed among the majestic Black and Yellow Stinkwood trees, while small game including bushbuck, blue duiker and monkeys roam freely.
Bird watching at Karkloof Nature Reserve can be a very rewarding activity which may result in spotting the endemic guinea fowl. Bird-watchers have reported up to 100 species of birds in the area. Hikers have a number of interesting trails to choose from that will allow them to explore some of the most picturesque spots including six waterfalls. Other activities to be enjoyed in the area are mountain biking, fishing and swimming in natural crystal clear pools. The more adventurous may want to try the Karkloof Canopy Tour which gives visitors a bird’s eye view of the forest while suspended (safely harnessed) 40 meters above the ground.
Karkloof Nature Reserve forms part of the Kwazulu Natal Midlands Meander. This unique mix of over 160 places to shop, play, eat, drink and sleep was started a number of years ago by crafters in the area who wanted to attract visitors off the beaten-track into the country areas to explore their galleries and studios. The venture has been a resounding success with the Midlands Meander being explored by tourists and locals alike.
The history of the area shows that ancient San hunter-gatherers abandoned the area to escape encroaching black tribes, but by the time white settlers discovered the area it had once again been abandoned. A church that was built in the 1860s and used as a fort during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, remains standing surrounded by settler graves, giving a glimpse into Karkloof’s past.
Karkloof Nature Reserve and the surrounding areas certainly have much to offer visitors to South Africa, and a visit to the Natal Midlands would not be complete without spending some time exploring it.