The Richards Bay Game Reserve is a must-see destination for nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers alike. The reserve is home to remnant stands of swamp forest, the Thulazihleka Bird viewing hide in small swamp, and the Tidal Mudflats and shallows south of the Mhlatuzi river. These habitats are home to an impressive 300 species of birds, including several rare migrant species new to the list of KwaZulu Natal birds.
The reserve offers a chance to see some of South Africa’s most spectacular wetland scenery, including the Richards Bay Lagoon where aquatic birds and animal species, such as hippopotamus and crocodile, are protected. The numbers of wildlife and birdlife in the reserve are ever-increasing, with the rare pink-backed pelican being sighted in the area.
Flamingos, cormorants, and some waders are prevalent in the reserve. This area is also an important nursery ground for marine fish such as grunter, salmon, perch, and yellowfin.
Popular Activities and Tourist Destinations at Richards Bay Game Reserve
Some popular activities and tourist destinations in and near the Richards Bay Game Reserve include:
Thulazihleka Bird Viewing Hide
Located within the reserve, this hide offers visitors the opportunity to view a wide variety of bird species in their natural habitat. Some of the species that can be spotted here include the African Openbill Stork, Black-crowned Night Heron, and Lesser Moorhen.
Tidal Mudflats and Shallows
The reserve’s tidal mudflats and shallows are a popular spot for birdwatching, as they are home to a wide variety of migratory bird species. Visitors can also spot aquatic animals such as hippopotamus and crocodile in these areas.
Richards Bay Lagoon
The lagoon is a popular spot for boating and fishing, as well as for viewing aquatic wildlife such as flamingos, cormorants, and various marine fish species.
The reserve’s coastal forest is a great place for hiking and nature walks, offering visitors the chance to spot a wide variety of plant and animal species.
Other nearby attractions include the Zululand Historical Museum, which offers a glimpse into the region’s rich cultural heritage, and the Umfolozi Game Reserve, which offers visitors the opportunity to view a wide variety of wildlife, including the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros, and buffalo).
Another popular destination near the Richards Bay Game Reserve is the Durnford Lighthouse. Located just 15 kilometers south of the reserve, the lighthouse offers visitors a glimpse into the region’s maritime history and offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
Originally erected in 1916, the Durnford Lighthouse is an unattended acetylene gas lighthouse. It was named after Colonel AW Durnford, who served as colonial engineer for Natal in the 1870s. The original lattice steel tower stood 12 meters high with an AGA lantern similar to the one at Cape St Lucia on top. The lighthouse emitted a white flash every five seconds, which could be seen from up to 13 sea miles away.
Today, the lighthouse looks quite different from its original form. The lighthouse tower is now made of white stone and is said to have been designed based on the plans of army watch towers, similar to Hondeklip Baai and South Sand Bluff lighthouses. The lighthouse is now easy to reach by car, and offers visitors panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
The Durnford Lighthouse is now unattended and needs constant surveillance as it has been vandalized multiple times. Despite this, it remains a popular destination for visitors who are interested in learning about the region’s maritime history and taking in the breathtaking views from the top of the lighthouse.
Fat Cat Coffee Shop
Another popular destination near the Richards Bay Game Reserve is the Fat Cat Coffee Shop in Mtunzini. Known for its delicious fare, the Fat Cat Coffee Shop is a great spot to grab a bite to eat while exploring the area.
Open every day, the coffee shop serves up a variety of breakfast, lunch, and tea options, as well as cakes and Italian coffee. They are particularly known for their owner-grilled steaks, spare ribs, and the freshest of fish. If you’re not in the mood for a full meal, their pizzas, pasta, and famous pancakes are also worth trying. The coffee shop is open on Friday nights for a set menu and is fully licensed.
The Fat Cat Coffee Shop is also family-friendly, with an outdoor play area for children, making it a great spot for families to stop for a meal while exploring the area. Whether you’re looking for a full meal or just a quick snack, the Fat Cat Coffee Shop is a worthwhile destination for visitors of the Richards Bay Game Reserve.
Located in the heart of KwaZulu-Natal, the Richards Bay Game Reserve is a popular destination for tourists looking to explore the natural beauty of the region. One of the main attractions in the area is Alkantstrand, a clean and well-maintained beach that was once South Africa’s northernmost Blue Flag beach. The beach, which means “both sides beach” in reference to the vast expanses of the Indian Ocean that surround it, boasts excellent swimming conditions, security, and educational facilities.
Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities at Alkantstrand, such as sunbathing, playing Frisbee, or having a picnic with the family. There is also an inviting grassy area for picnics and barbecues, complete with braai sites for your convenience, in the natural forests of this coast. Water sports are also popular at Alkantstrand, with opportunities for surfing, canoeing, kiting, and swimming.
In addition to its natural beauty, Alkantstrand also offers a unique vantage point to observe the working harbour of Richards Bay. As fishing boats and other vessels sail in and out of the harbour, beach-goers can watch the hustle and bustle of the harbour from the comfort of their beach towels.
Alkantstrand is open all year round and lifeguards are on duty for the safety of swimmers. With its balmy climate, Alkantstrand is a great beach holiday destination, even out of the tourism season. The beach is just a short drive from Richards Bay, which is about two hours from Durban and the King Shaka International Airport.
Naval Island is a must-visit destination for those looking to experience the beauty of the Indian Ocean in Richards Bay. Once a naval base, it has now been transformed into a scenic beach destination that is perfect for swimming, stand-up paddling, and enjoying the tranquility of the area. Visitors can enjoy picnics on the sandy beach, play games of Frisbee, or take long walks along the ocean. The island is also ideal for sailing and jet-skiing, and visitors can even take in the views of the working harbour as fishing boats and other vessels sail in and out.
One of the most striking features of Naval Island is the combination of the warm Indian Ocean waters and the idyllic natural surroundings, including trees that provide plenty of shade for visitors to relax under. While there is ample parking available, visitors should be aware that there are no ablutions on the island. To make sure that you have everything you need to enjoy your day on the beach, make sure to bring snacks, water, and sunscreen.
Overall, Naval Island is a great addition to any itinerary for those visiting Richards Bay. It’s just two hours drive from Durban, and seven hours from Johannesburg, Richard’s Bay is a vibrant holiday town known for its exquisite wetlands, gorgeous beaches, and plenty of shops and restaurants to explore.
The Richards Bay Game Reserve offers visitors a chance to experience the beauty of nature while also showcasing the importance of conservation and preserving our natural resources. Whether you’re interested in birdwatching, boating, fishing, hiking, or learning about local culture and history, the reserve and its surrounding area have something to offer everyone.
Not only is the Richards Bay Game Reserve a haven for wildlife and birdlife, but it also serves as a natural, living example of how commerce and nature can exist side by side in harmony. The reserve offers visitors a chance to experience the beauty of nature while also showcasing the importance of conservation and preserving our natural resources.