The Umhlanga Ponds, located just twenty minutes from the bustling city of Durban, offer a tranquil escape for nature enthusiasts. Situated adjacent to the Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve at the edge of Umhlanga Rocks, these wetlands provide a refuge for coastal forest birds, animals, and plants.
Contrary to their name, the “ponds” are actually a wastewater treatment works. However, this fact should not deter visitors as the area is truly beautiful. The reserve is home to coastal dune forest, reed beds, and a series of shallow, vegetated ponds on the Ohlanga River. These ponds are linked to the nature reserve by reed beds and coastal forest, making for a diverse ecosystem.
The ponds themselves are four in number and are situated adjacent to the Ohlanga River. Two of them are largely overgrown, while the other two remain unspoiled. The main draw for visitors to the “ponds” is the abundance of bird life – over 215 species have been sighted here, even more than in the adjacent lagoon. Birding specialists recommend visiting during the summer months, when visitors can expect to see a minimum of 40 different bird species in just a couple of hours. Black crake, common moorhen, African purple swamphen, and even lesser spotted African crakes, lesser jacana, and African fish eagles have all been spotted in the ponds of the lagoon nature reserve.
The thick vegetation surrounding the ponds provides cover for a variety of weavers, warblers, red-faced cisticola, and gems like the malachite kingfisher. Sunbirds can be spotted in the hibiscus hedge.
Though there are no facilities at the ponds, the lagoon has a picnic site on the left-hand path heading towards the sea. The entrance to the Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve is just past the Breakers Beach Hotel, making it a convenient location for both tourists and locals alike. Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher or just looking for a peaceful escape, the Umhlanga Ponds are sure to impress.
The Umhlanga Ponds are not only a beautiful destination for nature enthusiasts, but they are also located near a variety of other popular tourist destinations and activities.
One of the closest attractions is the Umhlanga Rocks beach, which is known for its beautiful golden sands and warm waters. Visitors can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and surfing, or take a stroll along the promenade and enjoy the views of the Indian Ocean.
For those looking for an adrenaline-pumping adventure, kitesurfing at Fruitloops Kitesurfing School is a must-try. Located near the Umhlanga Ponds, Fruitloops offers kitesurfing lessons for all skill levels, from first-time kitesurfers to experienced riders looking to take their skills to the next level.
Kitesurfing is a unique sport that combines the thrill of wind and ocean, providing a sense of freedom and openness that is hard to find in other sports. With step-by-step kitesurfing lessons and ideal conditions, you could find yourself up and riding on the board within a day.
The Fruitloops team, led by co-founders Joshua Emanuel and Lorenzo Valenti, has over 17 years of experience in this competitive sport and is dedicated to providing a fun and safe learning experience. They use the latest and greatest gear, including two-way radio headsets that allow instructors to communicate with students while in the water.
In addition to kitesurfing lessons, the Fruitloops team also hosts exclusive kite safaris, traveling regularly to prime kiting locations in Africa and around the world. Whether you’re a beach-goer, surfer, or fisherman looking for a new thrill, kitesurfing at Fruitloops is the ultimate adventure sport. Don’t let windy days hold you back – come join the Fruitloops team for the ride of your life.
Another nearby attraction is the Gateway Theatre of Shopping, which is one of the largest shopping centers in the southern hemisphere. It offers a wide variety of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options, including a movie theater and an indoor ice-skating rink.
For those looking for a unique and thrilling experience, Mindgame Escape in Umhlanga is a must-visit destination. Located near the Umhlanga Ponds, Mindgame Escape offers a fun and exciting way for families, friends, and colleagues to work together, solve mysteries, and have loads of fun doing it.
Mindgame Escape is all about mystery, intrigue, and adventure with a twist. There are three themed Escape Rooms, each with a different story and challenge, and you will have just one hour to gather clues, decipher codes, solve puzzles, and solve the mystery. Only then can you escape from the room. The themed rooms transport you to a fantasy world of yesteryear.
Sherlock Homes – Baker Street
You will have to bust London’s most dangerous and notorious gang in the midst of murder and mayhem.
Unravel the mystery of a UFO that hovered over Umhlanga in 1948 and find out the secrets of the government’s secret files.
The Forgotten Temple
Delve into the ancient world of the Mayans, try to decipher inscriptions that may reveal the secrets of a terrible curse.
Mindgame Escape is great for team-building projects as it encourages teamwork and tests relationships. The rooms are large enough to accommodate those who are not comfortable in small spaces.
For those interested in history, the Umhlanga Lighthouse offers tours to the top of the lighthouse, from where visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area. The lighthouse is also a popular spot for sunset viewing.
For outdoor activities, the Umhlanga Nature Reserve is nearby and offers hiking trails, picnic areas and a playground for children.
For those interested in sports, the Durban Country Club, which is home to an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, and a swimming pool, is located just a short drive away.
Children’s Cooking Classes
If you’re looking for a fun and educational activity to do with your kids, the Children’s Cooking Classes near the Umhlanga Ponds is a great option. These classes offer a unique opportunity for families to spend quality time together while learning new skills and building warm kitchen memories.
The classes are divided into age groups, with options for children as young as 18 months to 3 years, and 2 years to 6 years. The focus is on healthy dishes and treats that use natural, preservative-free ingredients and don’t require any stove work. Children will have fun making friends, learning recipes, playing with baking shapes, experimenting with new textures and enjoying new tastes. This is an easy opportunity to encourage the kids to try new foods and feel proud in taking their culinary creations home.
Measuring and weighing introduce them to easy math, together with stirring, mixing, and whisking to develop motor skills and coordination. Cooking for children makes for warm kitchen memories while educating them on nutrition from the heart of the home.
Imagine the quality of your Mother’s Day or Father’s Day breakfast in bed by the time they reach the double digits, thanks to their new skills and love for cooking. This is a great way to spend time with your kids and also teach them healthy habits and valuable life skills.
KZN Science Center
If you’re looking for a fun and educational destination for the whole family, the KZN Science Centre, located near the Umhlanga Ponds, is a great option. This world-class science center provides excellence in a unique combination of education and entertainment, making science accessible to all in a fun and innovative way. With over a hundred interactive displays, visitors of all ages can learn about different aspects of science, from sound waves to physics, and even architecture.
The center offers a wide range of challenging and fun puzzles, as well as a brand new planetarium that promises to take you on an adventure like you’ve never experienced before. For those who want to make multiple visits to the science center, a Friends Club membership is available, which allows members to visit as many times as they want to during the year. The Science Centre also offers pre-booked school visits and group tours.
If you’re looking for a unique and memorable venue for your child’s birthday party, the Science Centre is a great option. They also have holiday programs designed to keep your little ones entertained during the school holidays. With so many exciting and interactive exhibits, the KZN Science Centre is sure to be a hit with visitors of all ages.
Lastly, for those looking to experience the local culture, the Durban Botanic Gardens and the KwaZulu-Natal Museum are both located near the Umhlanga Ponds and offer a glimpse into the history and culture of the area.
Inanda Heritage Trail
For those looking to explore the rich history and culture of Durban, the Inanda Heritage Trail is a must-do experience. The guided tour takes visitors to the Inanda Valley, a densely populated semi-rural settlement roughly 30 km outside of Durban. The tour explores four major movements that had a significant impact on the area: Gandhi’s movement of passive resistance (Satyagraha), John Dube’s Ohlange Institute for African boys (he was also the founder of the ANC), the Shembe church, and the Inanda Seminary, a mission secondary boarding school that catered exclusively for African girls.
Mahatma Gandhi spent 21 years in South Africa, and his life was shaped by a number of events in the country, including the now-famous incident when he was thrown off a train for sitting in the “whites only” section. These experiences shaped his passive resistance movement. Visitors can see the remains of his communal Phoenix settlement, which included his home, a community center, and the printing press from which he produced the Indian Opinion. Today, the site is dedicated to a museum where history is laid out on panels across the walls, making for very interesting reading.
Just up the road from the Phoenix Settlement was John Dube’s Ohlange Institute, established in 1901, the first educational institution founded by a black person in South Africa, on land donated by the chief of the AmaQadi. It was modeled on the Tuskegee
For those looking to explore the natural beauty of the area, a visit to the Hawaan Forest near the Umhlanga Ponds is a must. This beautiful forest is a unique woodland area bounded by the Ohlanga River and the sea, and has been preserved for centuries. It is home to a large number of animals and birds, as well as many different tree species.
The Hawaan Forest is a nature lover’s paradise and is especially popular with birdwatchers. However, in an effort to continue the preservation of the area, the trails are not open to the public. Guided tours are available, led by experienced guides who will take you through the unique ecosystem and introduce you to the diverse wildlife that calls it home, such as bush pig, genet, duiker, and sometimes even pythons.
For more information about the Hawaan Forest and how to join a guided tour, visit the official website or contact the local authorities. The forest is a unique and precious ecosystem that is worth visiting and appreciating, and a guided tour is the best way to ensure that it remains unspoiled for generations to come.
In summary, the Umhlanga Ponds offer visitors the opportunity to enjoy nature and birdwatching, while also being close to a wide variety of other activities, tourist destinations, and cultural experiences.