Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve is a beautiful coastal nature reserve located in the coastal town of Umhlanga, South Africa. The reserve, while small at only 26 hectares, offers stunning trails that lead through dune forest, across the lagoon and onto the beach. Visitors can also discover the remains of a Stone Age sea shell midden at the lagoon mouth. The reserve’s location, just beyond the Breakers Hotel on Lagoon Drive, makes it easily accessible for visitors.
Attractions and Activities at Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve
One of the main attractions of the reserve is the lagoon itself, which is a popular spot for swimming, fishing, and picnicking. The lagoon is surrounded by lush vegetation, including mangroves, reeds, and wetlands, which provide a habitat for a variety of bird species. Visitors can enjoy birdwatching, with over 200 species of birds have been recorded in the reserve.
The reserve also has a network of walking trails, which offer visitors the opportunity to explore the diverse ecosystems of the reserve, including coastal dunes, grasslands, and wetlands. Along the way, visitors may spot wildlife such as bushbuck, mongooses, and even the occasional vervet monkey.
For those looking to learn more about the reserve, there are daily guided walks along the trail at 9am, 11am, and 3pm that take roughly an hour and a half. These guided tours can be booked at the Breakers Hotel reception area.
Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, explore the natural beauty of the reserve, or learn about the area’s history and wildlife, Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve has something to offer everyone. So pack a picnic, bring your binoculars, and come explore this beautiful coastal oasis.
The reserve is also home to several cultural heritage sites, including a historic lighthouse and the remains of a 19th century shipwreck. These sites offer visitors a glimpse into the rich history of the area and the people who have lived and worked here.
Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve is open to visitors year-round and is a great destination for nature lovers, birdwatchers, and anyone looking for a peaceful retreat. The reserve is easily accessible by car and there is ample parking available on site.
Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve is not the only natural attraction in the area, visitors can also explore the Umhlanga Ponds located just beyond the reserve. The ponds provide a peaceful retreat where visitors can relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.
The Umhlanga Ponds, located just beyond the Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, offer visitors a unique and beautiful natural experience. Despite the name, the “ponds” are actually a wastewater treatment works, but this does not detract from the natural beauty of the area.
This wildlife reserve consists of coastal dune forest, reed beds, and a series of shallow, richly vegetated ponds on the Ohlanga River. The ponds are linked to the nature reserve by reed beds and coastal forest. The area is situated on the edge of a busy and popular town, but despite this, the natural beauty of the area is undeniable.
The Umhlanga Ponds are four in number, lying adjacent to the Ohlanga River. Two of the ponds are largely overgrown, while the other two remain unsullied. The main attraction of the area is the rich congregation of birds, with over 215 species having been sighted here, more than in the adjacent lagoon.
Birding specialists recommend visiting the ponds during the summer, as there are fewer birds in winter. Nevertheless, visitors can expect to see a minimum of 40 birds if they have a couple of hours to spare. Some of the species that have been spotted in the ponds include Black crake, common moorhen, African purple swamphen, lesser spotted African crakes, lesser jacana, and African fish eagles.
The thick vegetation surrounding the ponds also provides cover for a series of weavers, warblers, the red-faced cisticola, and gems like the malachite kingfisher. Sunbirds can also be found heading for the hibiscus hedge.
There are no facilities at the ponds, but the lagoon has a picnic site on the left-hand path heading towards the sea. Visitors can access the Umhlanga Ponds by taking the trail to the left-hand side of the Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve entrance, located just past the Breakers Beach Hotel.
For those looking for an even more immersive nature experience, the preserved ancient forest of Hawaan Forest is just over the freeway, on the corner of Portland Drive and Herald Drive. The forest offers a wonderful opportunity to explore the natural beauty and diversity of the area’s plant and animal life. Walks through the forest are managed by WESSA, a South African non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
For those interested in learning more about the forest and its inhabitants, guided walks are also available. These guided tours are a great way to explore the forest and learn about the conservation efforts taking place in the area.
In addition to the natural beauty of Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, Umhlanga Ponds, and Hawaan Forest, visitors can also enjoy a diverse range of outdoor activities such as birdwatching, hiking, and picnicking. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or an adventurous day out, the natural attractions in Umhlanga have something to offer everyone.
Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, explore the natural beauty of the reserve, or learn about the area’s history, Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve has something to offer everyone. So pack a picnic, bring your binoculars, and come explore this beautiful coastal oasis.