Located a mere 50 km from the vibrant city of Durban, Empisini Nature Reserve is a hidden gem nestled on the KwaZulu-Natal coast, just inland from Umkomaas. Spanning an expansive 120 hectares, this reserve holds a special allure, as approximately 50 hectares have remained untouched and pristine, creating a haven for a diverse range of bird species and a captivating forest area that stretches along the enchanting Empisini stream.
While it is true that Empisini Nature Reserve has suffered from neglect in the past, with limited facilities and signs of vandalism, recent efforts have been made to restore its former glory. It is worth noting that caution should still be exercised when visiting, as some areas may be overgrown. Additionally, it has been brought to our attention that the GPS coordinates provided by Google Maps are inaccurate, so it is advisable to verify directions before embarking on your journey. However, despite these challenges, the reserve offers a unique experience that nature enthusiasts won’t want to miss.
Immerse yourself in the lush vegetation that characterizes the Umkomaas area, and let Empisini Nature Reserve transport you to a world of tranquility and natural splendor. One of the highlights of a visit here is the opportunity to stay overnight in treehouse accommodations, providing a sense of adventure and an escape from the modern trappings of electricity. These rustic dwellings offer an immersive experience, allowing you to connect with the sounds and sights of the surrounding forest.
For those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, the reserve boasts beautiful walking trails that wind their way through the verdant landscape. Lose yourself in the captivating beauty of the coastal forest reserve, home to an array of wildlife including bushbuck, duikers, and mongoose. However, it is the birdlife that truly steals the show, with sightings of magnificent species such as the black sparrowhawk, narina trogon, Knysna turaco, African emerald cuckoo, trumpeter hornbill, and African black duck.
Empisini Nature Reserve is owned by the borough of uMkhomanzi and managed by the dedicated team at the Umkomaas centre of the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa. Their commitment to preserving and showcasing the natural wonders of this reserve is commendable, ensuring that visitors can continue to enjoy its treasures for years to come.
Contrary to its name, Empisini Nature Reserve is not home to hyenas, so visitors can explore the trails, indulge in family picnics, and embark on serene strolls without any concerns about these elusive creatures. Instead, it offers a serene and captivating environment that serves as the perfect complement to a seaside getaway in Umkomaas. The combination of pristine beaches and the enchanting coastal forest make this part of the world a must-visit destination for nature lovers and holidaymakers alike.
Popular activities, tourist attractions and points of interest at Empisini Nature Reserve
Empisini Nature Reserve offers visitors a plethora of activities and nearby attractions to enhance their experience and make the most of their time in this natural wonderland.
Hiking and Nature Trails
Lace up your hiking boots and embark on a captivating journey through the reserve’s well-maintained hiking and nature trails. Wander amidst the towering trees, soak in the sights and sounds of the forest, and keep an eye out for the rich biodiversity that thrives within. Guided hikes are also available, offering valuable insights into the flora and fauna that call this reserve home.
Empisini Nature Reserve is a paradise for birdwatchers. With its diverse habitats, including the coastal forest and the Empisini stream, the reserve attracts a remarkable array of bird species. Binoculars in hand, you can spot majestic raptors like the black sparrowhawk soaring through the sky, marvel at the vibrant plumage of the Knysna turaco, or listen to the melodious calls of the African emerald cuckoo.
Indulge in a unique and unforgettable overnight stay in one of the reserve’s treehouse accommodations. Nestled high among the branches, these rustic dwellings provide an immersive experience in nature, offering panoramic views of the surrounding forest. Fall asleep to the symphony of nocturnal creatures and wake up to the gentle rays of the sun filtering through the leaves.
Throughout the reserve, you’ll find picturesque picnic sites that invite you to savor a leisurely meal amidst the beauty of nature. Pack a delicious spread, find a tranquil spot, and enjoy a memorable picnic surrounded by the sights and scents of the forest.
Just 11 kilometers from the reserve, the glistening shores of Umkomaas beckon. Extend your stay and combine the serenity of Empisini with the exhilaration of a seaside getaway. Whether you’re a sun seeker, a water sports enthusiast, or a nature lover keen to explore the coastal wonders, the beaches near Empisini Nature Reserve offer something for everyone.
For diving enthusiasts, the nearby Aliwal Shoal is an underwater paradise waiting to be explored. This renowned dive site is famous for its diverse marine life, including colorful coral reefs, tropical fish, and the chance to spot majestic sharks. Dive operators in Umkomaas can arrange thrilling diving excursions to this remarkable underwater world.
uMkomaas Golf Club
If you enjoy a round of golf, make sure to visit the uMkomaas Golf Club. Located near the reserve, this scenic golf course offers stunning views of the Indian Ocean, lush fairways, and a challenging layout that will delight golfers of all levels.
Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve
Venture a bit further from Empisini to discover the breathtaking Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve. Marvel at the dramatic cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and the pristine Umzimkulwana River as you explore the hiking trails and take in the awe-inspiring vistas. The reserve also offers thrilling activities like zip-lining and abseiling for those seeking an adrenaline rush.
Blue Ocean Dive Resort
Attention all SCUBA divers and snorkelers! Prepare to be enchanted by the extraordinary marine world of the Aliwal Shoal as you book your accommodation at the renowned Blue Ocean Dive Resort. Nestled in the coastal town of Umkomaas, KwaZulu-Natal, this resort situates you right at the heart of the captivating underwater action.
Blue Ocean Dive Resort is dedicated to offering SCUBA diving holidays that surpass your wildest dreams. Embark on thrilling adventures to explore the renowned Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks, where an array of incredible species await. The main attraction, without a doubt, is the awe-inspiring variety of sharks that call these waters home. Prepare to be mesmerized as you encounter Zambezi Sharks, Hammerhead Sharks, White Tip Reef Sharks, Ragged Tooth Sharks, Oceanic Black Tips, and even Tiger Sharks, gracefully displaying their effortless elegance. In fact, Protea Banks is widely regarded as one of the best shark diving destinations on the planet. As you explore the depths, you’ll also encounter majestic turtles, vibrant fish, and captivating marine mammals.
Blue Ocean Dive Resort caters to qualified divers, ensuring an exceptional diving experience without students in your group. All necessary dive gear, including cylinders and weights, is available for convenient hire. With top-notch boats and an impressive safety record, you can dive with confidence and peace of mind. The resort offers a range of dive options, including cageless shark dives, reef dives, free dives, wreck dives, and even SCUBA training for those looking to enhance their skills. For those who prefer to stay closer to the surface, rewarding snorkeling adventures are also available, allowing you to marvel at the underwater beauty from a different perspective.
To make your experience truly unforgettable, Blue Ocean Dive Resort offers several enticing packages, ranging from eight to ten days, depending on your chosen package. These comprehensive packages provide ample time to fully immerse yourself in the mesmerizing world beneath the waves. Conveniently located only 40 minutes away from Durban and the King Shaka International Airport, Umkomaas serves as the perfect gateway to your extraordinary underwater journey.
Whether you’re a seasoned diver seeking thrilling encounters or a snorkeler eager to witness the wonders of the sea, Blue Ocean Dive Resort guarantees an unparalleled experience. Prepare to be captivated by the mesmerizing marine life of the Aliwal Shoal, dive into the depths with confidence, and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Experience the transformative power of the sun-drenched shores as you set foot on Umgababa Beach, a breathtaking Blue Flag beach nestled just three kilometers from Illovo Beach on the pristine KwaZulu-Natal coastline. This coastal paradise offers unrivaled serenity and untouched beauty, making it an ideal destination for a family holiday, romantic getaway, or honeymoon.
Earning Blue Flag status is a testament to the beach’s commitment to meeting rigorous criteria, ensuring an exceptional experience for visitors. Umgababa Beach excels in various aspects, including environmental education initiatives, the provision of environmental information, water quality, environmental management, safety, and the availability of services such as well-maintained ablution facilities and ample parking.
Situated approximately 36 kilometers from Durban’s vibrant city center, Umgababa Beach boasts a long stretch of soft sandy coastline caressed by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. It offers a range of activities to delight beachgoers of all ages. Take leisurely strolls along the shore, bask in the sun’s golden rays, engage in beach sports, ride the waves on a surfboard, or take a refreshing swim in the crystal-clear waters. The beach’s natural allure and favorable weather conditions, which grace KwaZulu-Natal throughout the year, make it an ideal destination for a family beach holiday, even during the winter school holidays.
Despite its picturesque beauty and accessibility, Umgababa Beach remains a peaceful haven, free from overcrowding. This ensures that visitors can fully immerse themselves in the natural splendor of KwaZulu-Natal without the need to battle for parking spaces or find a spot on the sand. It’s the perfect opportunity to unwind and connect with nature in a tranquil setting.
Furthermore, Umgababa Beach’s proximity to Durban provides an added advantage, as it allows you to easily explore some of the city’s top attractions. Within reach, you’ll find the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium, the captivating Umgeni River Bird Park, and the renowned uShaka Marine World. Durban also boasts an international airport, ensuring convenient access for travelers from around the globe.
Immerse yourself in the idyllic beauty of Umgababa Beach, where the sun-kissed sands and gentle ocean breeze create a haven of tranquility. Whether you seek relaxation, exhilaration, or the perfect blend of both, this coastal gem promises an unforgettable experience that will leave an indelible mark on your soul.
As you plan your visit to Empisini Nature Reserve, consider incorporating these activities and nearby attractions into your itinerary. From hiking through the enchanting forest to immersing yourself in the wonders of the coast and exploring the surrounding natural gems, this destination promises an unforgettable experience for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.
Come and discover the untouched beauty of Empisini Nature Reserve, where nature’s wonders unfold at every turn. Experience the magic of the forest, revel in the melodic symphony of birdsong, and find solace in the peaceful ambience that surrounds you.