Did you know?Legend has it that during the early 1870s, John Goodman Houshold and his brother built a glider and launched it from the top of a 300m precipice in the Karkloof area.
A 2 800ha reserve boasting incredible biodiversity is being added to and preserved for future generations thanks to the foresight of a local resident.
For close on a century, starting in the mid 1800s, the entire Karkloof Forest was harvested for hardwoods, leaving the area virtually stripped of large yellowwoods and other indigenous hardwoods. However, this situation was turned around in 1983 thanks to Timothy Hancock who established The Karkloof Nature Reserve.
Hancock entered into a long-term agreement with local wildlife authorities to lease Rockwood Farm to them to ensure the protection of Karkloof. Since then, on behalf of the Hancock families and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Rockwood Leisure has consolidated additional farmland, forestry land, grassland, wetland and a private nature reserve to grow the reserve to its current extent.
Within the reserve, which ranges from 1000 to 1767m above sea level, you’ll encounter mist-belt forest, mist-belt grassland and wetland habitats.
This environmental mix supports a number of endemic flora and fauna species, most notably the Karkloof blue butterfly (Orachrysops ariadne).
The forest is also home to duiker, samango monkeys or birds such as the narina trogon and a sub-species of the crested guinea fowl.
Rockwood Leisure is currently renovating existing accommodation and constructing new lodges, while Ezemvelo is responsible for reserve management.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Karkloof Nature Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)31 502 4043
How to get here
Take the N2 from Durban towards Pietermaritzburg. Pass Pietermaritzburg and Hilton, then start looking out for the Midlands Meander signposts. You will find the turnoff about 22km north of Howick on the Rietvlei road.
Best time to visit
All year round. Winters can be quite nippy, so pack warm clothing.
Around the area
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to see the spectacular Howick Falls or a visit to the many arts and crafts outlets along the Midlands Meander.
Tours to do
Karkloof Canopy Tours are a spectacular means of enjoying the forest from treetop level.
Self-drive, but bring your mountain bike to enjoy the trails.
Where to stay
Accommodation is available at one of four Rockwood Lodges. The reserve is only open to guests of the lodges.
Look out for the annual Mr Price Karkloof Classic mountain bike challenge, incorporating nine events over three days in April.