Umvoti Flower Reserve, also known as Lake Merthley Wildflower Reserve, is a hidden gem located on the shores of Lake Merthley just outside of Greytown in the Natal Midlands. Despite its elusiveness, it is home to a wide variety of flowering plants, including the famous Hilton daisy, which is visible during the flowering period from late January to March.
The Hilton daisy is a rare plant that typically grows only in the high rainfall mist-belt grasslands of KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, and is known for its bright red color that can also range from yellow through orange to scarlet. The plant typically spreads by means of underground stems and does not transplant easily.
The Umvoti Flower Reserve is home to a total of 100 flowering plants, including the blue scilla, red indigo, tinsel flower, asters, harebells, watsonia, at least four species of ground orchids and the dwarf sugarbush. Experts advise visiting the reserve in mid-October to catch both the red Hilton daisy and the blue scilla in flower at the same time, but January to March are also great months to visit and see ground orchids.
Unfortunately, the reserve’s custodian, Vic Schutte, recently retired, and despite several avid flower experts in the area, no-one has yet taken responsibility for the reserve. This is a real shame as the reserve is a wonderful asset to the area, and it is important that it is properly cared for and maintained.
Popular activities and tourist destinations at Umvoti Flower Reserve
In addition to the beautiful Umvoti Flower Reserve, Greytown also offers a variety of other activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. One such destination is The Country Nursery, a charming nursery and tea garden located just 200 metres off the road.
The Country Nursery
The Country Nursery is well-stocked with a wide variety of indigenous and exotic trees, shrubs, ground covers, and perennials, making it a great destination for those with green fingers or simply an interest in gardening. The shop also offers an assortment of bird-feeders, pots, fertilizers, and other gifts and goodies.
The tea garden, named Tranquili-tea, is the perfect place to relax and recharge your batteries. They serve breakfasts, lunches, teas, coffees and all sorts of eats and treats throughout the day, making it a great spot for a leisurely meal or a quick snack.
For those interested in history, the nearby town of Pietermaritzburg is home to a number of historical sites, including the Voortrekker Museum, which tells the story of the Voortrekkers, a group of Afrikaner pioneers who trekked into South Africa in the early 19th century.
For outdoor enthusiasts, there are also a number of hiking and cycling trails in the area, including the popular Midmar Dam Nature Reserve, which offers a variety of scenic walks, hikes, and bike rides.
Greytown and the surrounding area offer a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy, from the natural beauty of the Umvoti Flower Reserve, to the charming Country Nursery, and the historical sites of Pietermaritzburg. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or simply looking for a relaxing getaway, Greytown is a destination worth visiting.
The Greytown Museum is a must-see destination for history buffs and curious visitors alike. This National Monument is considered to be one of the finest small museums in South Africa, and it offers a unique blend of indoor and outdoor exhibits. Visitors can explore the rich history of the area, including the Anglo Boer War and the conflicts between settlers and local Zulu folk. The museum also features a Hindu Room, a Victorian Children’s Room, and the Coach House, which provides a glimpse into the past.
One of the most popular exhibits at the Greytown Museum is the canon that dates back to the 1750s. This impressive piece was brought through rugged terrain from Port St Johns to Greytown in the mid-19th century. Visitors can also admire the steam engines, a restored Cape cart and an authentic hearse, which are displayed in the outdoor area of the museum.
Another highlight of the museum is the fig tree that dates back to around 1900. This tree was planted by General Louis Botha’s sister, who was also the wife of the original builder of the house, Dr Birtwell. The museum is open from Monday to Friday and on certain Sundays, making it a convenient stop for tourists visiting the area.
The Greytown Museum is located in the heart of the picturesque town of Greytown, known for its ample production of timber, which is used locally and exported. It is situated on the banks of the gorgeous Umvoti River and is a perfect addition to your itinerary when visiting the Umvoti Flower Reserve. Take a step back in time and explore the rich history of the region while visiting this fantastic museum.
If you’re a history buff, then the Battlefields region of KwaZulu Natal is a must-visit destination. Not only is it home to some of the most picturesque landscapes in the country, but it also holds a concentration of historical battles that shaped South African and British history. Once you’ve booked your hotel or Battlefields accommodation, explore the town and destination pages below for info on attractions, activities, and things to do when you visit this fascinating region.
One of the most famous battlefields in the area is Isandlwana, where the Zulu forces armed primarily with traditional spears and shields thrashed the mighty British Colonial Empire forces in a two-hour battle. This is considered to be one of the few times the British were ever routed by an indigenous army. Another famous battlefield is Rorke’s Drift, where eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded to those who defended the British post.
The Battlefields Route is a popular self-drive experience that takes you through the heart of this beautiful and fragile region. You can follow maps and brochures to trace the battles that involved historical figures such as Mahatma Gandhi, Churchill, Shaka, and General Louis Botha, all of whom played strategic roles in these intense clashes. The Battlefields Map is a useful guide to help you navigate the area.
Apart from the rich history, the Battlefields region offers a range of activities and attractions for visitors. Visitors can take a tour of the area, explore the historic sites and monuments, and even visit the graves of the fallen soldiers. The region is also home to many hiking trails, bird watching spots and offers a great opportunity for nature photography. The Battlefields region is a unique and fascinating destination that should not be missed.
The Umvoti Flower Reserve is located within the Midlands Meander. It is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The reserve is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, including the rare and endangered Umvoti lily. Visitors can explore the reserve on foot, by bike, or even on horseback, taking in the stunning views and experiencing the peacefulness of the natural surroundings.
In addition to the natural beauty and outdoor activities, the Midlands Meander also offers a wide range of arts and crafts. The area is home to a vibrant community of artists, potters, weavers, woodcrafters, leather workers, metalworkers, box makers, herb growers, cheese makers, beer brewers and more. Visitors can explore the many art studios and craft shops, and even take a class to learn a new skill.
Accommodation in the Midlands Meander is varied, with options to suit all preferences. Visitors can choose from traditional hotels, tree houses surrounded by wildlife, caves in the mountains, lush forest campsites, or upmarket Bed and Breakfasts or Guest Houses. The area also boasts an array of fantastic restaurants, offering a diversity of mouth-watering munchies to choose from.
The Midlands Meander is a place to slow down and take your time, to wander at random and enjoy the winding paths of this beautiful region. Whether you’re a nature lover, outdoor enthusiast, history buff or art lover, there is something for everyone in the Midlands Meander. So why not plan your next trip to the Umvoti Flower Reserve and experience the beauty and diversity of this unique and unforgettable destination.
If you are a nature lover, and particularly interested in wildflowers, the Umvoti Flower Reserve is a must-see destination. With its wide variety of flowering plants, including the rare Hilton daisy, it is a true hidden gem that should not be missed.