Just a short ten-minute drive from the bustling city of Durban lies the mystical Hawaan Forest, a hidden treasure nestled within the coastal dune landscape. Considered the last remaining piece of its kind, this primeval forest, dating back a remarkable 18,000 years, is located in close proximity to Umhlanga. It occupies a picturesque sand dune that has withstood the test of time, offering a glimpse into a world untouched by modern development.
Protected since 1860, the Hawaan Forest stands as a testament to the importance of preserving our natural heritage. Adjacent to the Umhlanga Nature Reserve, with only the M4 highway separating the two, the forest is conveniently situated on the edge of residential Durban North. Without this protective designation, the relentless march of progress would have long erased this precious ecosystem. Aerial photographs vividly depict the forest’s precarious position, hemmed in by the vast expanse of the sea on one side and encroaching residential neighborhoods on the other. In fact, the Hawaan Forest Estate, located on Herald Drive, almost brushes against the forest’s perimeter. In the 1960s, the region boasted numerous patches of indigenous forest along the coastline, but today, Hawaan Forest stands as the last vestige of its kind, bordered by the Ohlanga River and the vast expanse of the ocean.
Legend has it that the name “Hawaan” is derived from the ceremonial rituals performed by Indian laborers who toiled on nearby sugar farms. These individuals would conduct sacred fire rituals, known as “Havans,” using ceramic ovens called “Ohavan Kund.” The forest likely played a crucial role in providing the necessary wood, fruits, and honey used in these rituals, believed to appease the gods.
Spanning an impressive 65 hectares, the Hawaan Forest is home to an incredible array of plant, animal, and bird species, showcasing the rich biodiversity of the region. Over 100 indigenous tree species flourish within its bounds, including some exceptionally rare specimens. While the entire forest exudes an undeniable allure, approximately 40 hectares are classified as virgin forest, offering an authentic and unspoiled experience of this natural wonderland.
Visitors who have ventured into the depths of the Hawaan Forest describe it as reminiscent of the Burman Bush, another renowned natural attraction in the area. Its captivating allure and inherent mystique make every step within its confines incredibly intriguing. To ensure the forest’s conservation and maintain a high level of safety, guided walks have become the only way to explore this enchanting realm. Thanks to a recent project undertaken by the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), the pathways have been carefully maintained, and three forest clearers have been trained to serve as knowledgeable guides. As a result, public access to the Hawaan trails has been restricted, and those seeking to embark on a captivating journey through the forest must make arrangements through the Breakers Resort in Umhlanga Rocks.
Activities and Nearby Attractions in and Around Hawaan Forest
The Hawaan Forest not only captivates visitors with its untouched beauty and diverse ecosystem but also offers a range of activities and attractions for tourists to enjoy. Here are some noteworthy points of interest in and near Hawaan Forest that will enrich your experience:
Guided Nature Walks
Embark on a guided nature walk through the Hawaan Forest, led by knowledgeable guides trained to navigate its trails. Learn about the unique flora and fauna that inhabit the forest, including rare indigenous tree species. The guided walks ensure a deeper understanding of the forest’s ecological significance while providing a safe and immersive experience.
Umhlanga Nature Reserve
Adjacent to the Hawaan Forest, the Umhlanga Nature Reserve is a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts. Explore its diverse landscapes, from coastal forests to wetlands and dunes. The reserve offers various hiking trails that provide stunning views of the surrounding area, including the Hawaan Forest.
Just a stone’s throw away from the Hawaan Forest, the iconic Umhlanga Lighthouse stands tall as a symbol of the region. Take a leisurely stroll along the promenade and appreciate the picturesque views of the lighthouse against the backdrop of the Indian Ocean. It’s an excellent spot for photo opportunities and a peaceful moment by the seaside.
Umhlanga Rocks Beach
Spend a day basking in the sun and enjoying the warm waters of Umhlanga Rocks Beach. Located nearby, this pristine sandy beach offers a relaxing atmosphere and is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, or simply taking a leisurely stroll along the shore. Take in the scenic beauty and feel the gentle ocean breeze against your skin.
Whale Watching (seasonal)
During the winter months (June to November), the coastline near Hawaan Forest becomes a prime location for whale watching. Humpback whales migrate along this route, providing a spectacular sight as they breach and play in the ocean. Join a whale-watching tour for an unforgettable experience witnessing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
Local Markets and Cafés
Immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting the vibrant markets and charming cafés in the vicinity. The nearby Umhlanga Farmers’ Market offers a delightful array of fresh produce, artisanal crafts, and delectable food options. Indulge in local delicacies and shop for unique souvenirs to remember your visit by.
Gateway Theatre of Shopping
For those seeking a dose of retail therapy, the Gateway Theatre of Shopping is a premier shopping destination conveniently located near Hawaan Forest. This expansive mall boasts a wide range of international and local brands, entertainment options, and delectable dining establishments. Take a break from exploring nature and enjoy a day of shopping and leisure at this iconic retail hub.
Golf enthusiasts will find themselves spoiled for choice with several golf courses in close proximity to Hawaan Forest. The Umhlanga Country Club and Mount Edgecombe Country Club offer beautifully manicured greens and challenging fairways, surrounded by scenic landscapes. Spend a day teeing off and enjoying the tranquil ambiance of these world-class golf courses.
As you venture into the Hawaan Forest and its surrounding area, be prepared for a delightful blend of natural wonders, coastal beauty, and cultural experiences. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a beach lover, or a shopper seeking entertainment, this region has something to offer every visitor. Immerse yourself in the enchantment of Hawaan Forest and let the surrounding attractions leave an indelible mark on your travel memories.
Are you ready to embark on the ultimate adventure? Look no further than Fruitloops Kitesurfing, where you can discover the exhilarating world of kitesurfing—a sport that offers an unrivaled connection between the wind, the ocean, and an unparalleled sense of freedom.
Our kite school, nestled in the vicinity of the magnificent Hawaan Forest, provides the ideal conditions for learning and enjoying this thrilling sport. Whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned kiter looking to enhance your skills, our step-by-step kitesurfing lessons will have you up and riding on the board in no time. We cater to all skill levels and ensure a safe and enjoyable learning experience for everyone. What sets us apart is our use of cutting-edge two-way radio headsets, allowing seamless communication with our instructors even while you’re out on the water.
At Fruitloops, we are driven by a passion for kitesurfing and a desire to share our expertise with others. Co-founders Joshua Emanuel and Lorenzo Valenti boast an impressive 17 years of experience in the sport and have played significant roles in its development and the growth of the kite industry. Witnessing the evolution of kitesurfing firsthand, they are now dedicated to passing on their knowledge and skills to those seeking the ultimate kitesurfing experience.
Our team of instructors is comprised of some of the most experienced professionals in the industry. With their guidance, you can learn kitesurfing in a fun and safe environment, utilizing the latest and most advanced kite surfing technology and equipment available. We offer a comprehensive selection of gear for kitesurfing, foiling, and wing foiling, ensuring that you have access to the industry’s finest tools for your exhilarating journey.
For those who wish to explore beyond the shores of Hawaan Forest, Fruitloops also organizes exclusive kite safaris to Africa’s premier kiting locations and participates in international kitesurfing events. These ventures provide an opportunity to embrace kitesurfing on a global scale and connect with fellow enthusiasts from around the world.
Kitesurfing is the ultimate adventure sport for those seeking to make the most of our stunning coastline. For beach lovers, surfers, and fishermen alike, who may dread the windy days that keep them away from the ocean, kitesurfing offers a solution—instead of fighting the wind, learn to harness its power and ride the waves.
So, join us at Fruitloops Kitesurfing for the ride of your life. Discover the indescribable thrill, the sense of freedom, and the connection to nature that only kitesurfing can provide. Let us guide you through this remarkable journey and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Krantzkloof Nature Reserve
Nestled just 4 kilometers from the heart of the charming Kloof village, a mere 20-minute drive from Durban, lies the breathtaking Krantzkloof Nature Reserve. Established by the Natal Parks Board in 1950, this sanctuary is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
Spanning an impressive 532 hectares, the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve showcases the remarkable beauty of a well-forested gorge carved by the majestic Molweni River. The majority of the reserve is blanketed in dense forests and lush vegetation, creating a tranquil and captivating atmosphere for visitors to explore.
One of the reserve’s standout attractions is the meticulously developed picnic area, which is situated adjacent to the dam at the head of Kloof Falls. This popular spot, known for its scenic beauty and serene ambiance, provides the perfect setting for visitors to relax, unwind, and enjoy a delightful outdoor meal. Immerse yourself in nature’s embrace as you soak in the breathtaking views that surround you.
For those seeking even more awe-inspiring vistas, the Parks Board has established a Conference Centre at the reserve. Accessible via Kloof Falls Road, this facility provides an opportunity to experience nature’s grandeur while enjoying modern amenities. From the conference center, visitors can proceed to Bridle Road, where two well-marked view sites offer panoramic views of the reserve’s captivating landscapes.
Another notable picnic site within Krantzkloof Nature Reserve is located at the enchanting Nkutu Falls. To reach this tranquil haven, simply turn right at the top of Bridle Road into King George Avenue, which seamlessly transitions into Valley Drive. Follow this road until you reach the bottom of the hill, where you’ll discover a peaceful retreat surrounded by nature’s splendor.
The reserve offers a range of prepared walks that originate from the picnic areas, allowing visitors to marvel at the cascading waterfalls and venture into the heart of the gorge, tracing the course of the river. Whether you choose to admire the falls from a distance or embark on an exhilarating descent into the gorge, there are endless opportunities to connect with nature and witness its wonders firsthand. Additionally, organized walks can be arranged on weekends, providing a guided experience that delves deeper into the reserve’s rich natural heritage.
As you venture into Krantzkloof Nature Reserve, be prepared to be enthralled by the untouched beauty and abundant wildlife that call this sanctuary home. From the melodious chirping of birds to the rustling of leaves underfoot, every step within this natural wonderland is a testament to the incredible biodiversity that thrives within its boundaries.
So, pack your picnic basket, lace up your hiking boots, and embark on a memorable journey through the captivating landscapes of Krantzkloof Nature Reserve. Let the serenity of the surroundings envelop you as you delve into the heart of this pristine sanctuary.
Inanda Heritage Trail
If you’re seeking a captivating experience in Durban that takes you beyond the sun-kissed beaches and into a valley steeped in mesmerizing history, then the guided Inanda Heritage Route is the perfect choice.
Venturing into the Inanda Valley, a densely populated semi-rural settlement located approximately 30 kilometers outside of Durban, the Inanda Heritage Route immerses visitors in the rich tapestry of the region’s past.
This extraordinary trail explores four significant movements that have left an indelible mark on the M25 stretch. The first is Mahatma Gandhi’s movement of passive resistance, known as Satyagraha, which played a pivotal role in shaping his life. During his 21-year stay in South Africa, Gandhi faced numerous challenges, including being famously expelled from a train compartment designated for “whites only.” These experiences became the catalyst for his philosophy of nonviolent resistance.
One of the highlights along the trail is the Phoenix Settlement, Gandhi’s communal living experiment situated on a 100-acre farm. Here, visitors can discover his home, a community center, and the printing press that produced the influential Indian Opinion newspaper. Today, the remaining portion of the farm has been transformed into a museum where the walls are adorned with informative panels that recount the captivating history of this iconic figure.
Located just a short distance from the Phoenix Settlement is the Ohlange Institute, founded by John Dube in 1901. This institute holds the distinction of being the first educational institution established by a black person in South Africa. Dube, who later became the first president of the African National Congress (ANC), modeled the institute after America’s Tuskegee University. The emphasis at Ohlange Institute was on empowering students with self-reliance, offering not only basic education but also vocational skills such as journalism, shoemaking, dressmaking, carpentry, motor mechanics, and agriculture.
Both John Dube and Gandhi shared a deep friendship and a common philosophy. Interestingly, the Inanda Valley was also home to two other influential organizations: the Shembe religion, founded by Isaiah Shembe, and the Inanda Seminary, a girls’ school established by the American Board of Missions. These four entities were united by a shared spirituality, a strong social conscience, a dedication to hard work, a thirst for education, and a profound concern for the most vulnerable and marginalized members of society.
As you traverse the Inanda Heritage Trail, you’ll be captivated by the intertwining stories of these remarkable individuals and movements. The trail not only provides a glimpse into the past but also serves as a testament to the enduring spirit of resilience, equality, and social progress.
So, step back in time and embark on a journey through the Inanda Valley, where history, culture, and a profound sense of purpose await. Let the Inanda Heritage Route guide you through the lives and legacies of these extraordinary figures, and gain a deeper understanding of the struggles and triumphs that have shaped this region’s unique identity.
If you’re a Durban local or have planned your vacation in Umhlanga, there’s an exciting activity that absolutely deserves a spot on your to-do list: a thrilling session of detective work at Mindgame Escape. Whether you’re with your family, friends, or colleagues, this experience is perfect for fostering teamwork, solving mysteries, and, most importantly, having a blast.
Mindgame Escape is an immersive adventure that revolves around mystery, intrigue, and adventure with a twist. With three uniquely themed Escape Rooms, you and your team will have one hour to gather clues, decode intricate puzzles, and unravel the enigma that lies before you. Only by successfully completing these challenges can you escape the room and emerge victorious. This exhilarating experience puts your teamwork and relationships to the test, transporting you to a fantasy world of bygone eras.
Sherlock Homes – Baker Street
Step into the gritty streets of London and join the world’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes, as you unravel a sinister plot amidst murder and mayhem. Immerse yourself in the rich ambiance of Baker Street and outsmart the city’s most dangerous and notorious gang.
In 1948, Umhlanga was captivated by a mysterious UFO sighting, leading to a web of intriguing cover-ups. Immerse yourself in the excitement of gaining access to Bunker 51, where the government safeguarded their top-secret files. Uncover the truth hidden within these walls and experience the thrill of unraveling a captivating conspiracy.
The Forgotten Temple
Embark on a journey to the ancient world of the Mayans as you enter The Forgotten Temple. Engage your intellect and decipher inscriptions that hold the key to unraveling a terrible curse. Explore the secrets hidden within this mystical sanctuary and uncover the ancient wisdom that lies dormant.
Mindgame Escape is not only a thrilling recreational activity but also an excellent choice for team-building exercises. Each participant is compelled to work collaboratively, leveraging the unique skills and abilities of every team member. Additionally, the spacious rooms cater to individuals who may not be comfortable in confined spaces, ensuring an inclusive and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
So, prepare to channel your inner detective and embark on an unforgettable adventure at Mindgame Escape. Challenge your problem-solving abilities, enhance your teamwork skills, and dive into an alternate world where mysteries abound. Whether you’re a seasoned puzzle enthusiast or new to escape rooms, Mindgame Escape guarantees an exhilarating experience that will leave you craving more.
As you find yourself in the Durban area, take a moment to immerse yourself in the wonders of the Hawaan Forest. Discover its ancient secrets, witness the vibrant tapestry of life that thrives within its boundaries, and experience the undeniable allure of this last bastion of coastal dune forest. Let the whispers of the trees and the gentle rustling of leaves guide you on a remarkable journey into the heart of nature’s embrace.