Umtamvuna Nature Reserve Trails

The Umtamvuna Nature Reserve is located in the KwaZulu Natal province of South Africa, on the border of the Eastern Cape. This reserve is notorious for experiencing summer flash floods, filling its rivers with raging waters, and was therefore named Umtamvuna, meaning “The Waters That Reap”. It covers an area of more than three thousand hectares and includes the entire Umtamvuna River northern bank. It is also a reserve that is diverse, with massive gorges, dense forests, breathtaking areas blanketed in wild flowers, sandstone cliffs and Pondoland coastal highland sour veld. And for these reasons the reserve is very popular with hikers.


The reserve has a number of trails for hikers to enjoy, varying in difficulty, distance and completion time. The Nkonka Trail in Umtamvuna Nature Reserve is an open ended trail that covers a distance of eight kilometers and takes approximately six hours to complete. The Impunzi trail is the same distance as the Nkona Trail, but should only take four hours for hikers to finish the trail. The Eagle Trail is also a four hour trail, but is a circular trail. For hikers who would prefer a shorter trail, there is the Lourie Trail, which is a mere two kilometers, and the Ingungumbane Trail that is four kilometers in length. Shorter walks, which are five hundred meters and less, are also available.

Visitors to the Umtamvuna Nature Reserve will have to book in advance. At the northern entrance, visitors can enjoy facilities such as braai (barbecue) areas, parking and restrooms. For inexperienced hikers, it is advised to hire a game ranger to accompany you. It is important to remember that fishing is not permitted in the reserve.

For birding enthusiasts, the Umtamvuna trails are a treasure chest of bird species, with rare species such as the forest canary, broad-tailed warbler, half collared kingfisher, olive bush shrike, Knysna woodpecker, green malkoha and the spotted ground thrush being amongst the birds that can be seen. Other wildlife in the reserve include vervet monkeys, large grey mongoose, servals, porcupine, bushbuck, blue duiker, samango monkey, thick-tailed bushbaby, leopard and rock hyrax, to name a few. Over and above the rich wildlife and bird life of the Umtamvuna Nature Reserve, the trails offer breathtaking views and magnificent natural wonders to marvel at.