The Mpenjati Nature Reserve lies just 20km from the bustling holiday resort of Margate, on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast. This 60-hectare nature reserve is home to the shy, forest-dwelling blue, red and grey duiker, as well as numerous bird species and a host of vervet monkeys.

Did you know?

The red duiker is listed on the IUCN red list as a threatened species.

Mpenjati Nature Reserve is a large protected reserve of indigenous coastal bush flanking the Mpenjati River and extending to the shores of KwaZulu-Natal's south coast.

Mpenjati Nature Reserve, which lies about 20km south of the holiday town of Margate, is made up of a series of interlinking wetlands, grasslands and dune forests that sustain a variety of flora and fauna.

Activities on offer at this nature reserve include hiking, bird watching, fishing and swimming. Picnic and braai (barbecue) facilities, along with ablution blocks, have been provided on both the north and south banks of the river.

The 1.2km-long Ipithi trail on the south bank holds the promise of sighting the indigenous blue duiker, red duiker and grey duiker, as well as larger forest antelope species and the resident troop of vervet monkeys.

The Yengele trail on the north bank is 1.8km long and takes hikers through one of the largest dune forests on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast. Look out for forest antelope and a breeding pair of fish eagles, the main attractions on this trail.

If you’re keen on birds, look out for a variety of coastal and forest species. You might see the half-collared kingfisher, Kittlitz’s plover, and osprey. In the dune forest, keep an eye out for the forest canary, orange-breasted bush-shrike, black-bellied starling and green twinspot.

Ideally situated observation platforms on each trail provide excellent vantage points from which to view the lagoon, wetlands and the beach. The lagoon is a popular spot for canoeists, windsurfers and fishermen, and is safe for swimming.

In the interests of wildlife protection, pets are not permitted in the reserve, and there are no facilities for the disabled. While there are no shops at Mpenjati Nature Reserve, the proximity of Port Edward, just 12km away, makes stocking up for your picnic as easy as pie.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Mpenjati Nature Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)39 313 0531
Fax: +27 (0)39 313 0447

Pure Venom Snake & Reptile Park
Tel: +27 (0)39 685 0704

How to get here

Follow the main south coast road from Durban toward Port Edward. Pass through Margate and continue for a further 20km. You will see the Mpenjati Nature Reserve signposted from the main road.

Best time to visit

Gates are open from 6am to 6pm in summer (October to March) and from 7am to 5pm in winter (April to September).

Around the area

The Pure Venom Snake & Reptile Park in nearby Shelly Beach is a great place to spend a few hours, especially if you have children who like creepy-crawlies.

Get around

The main dirt roads into the reserve are accessible by all vehicles. Once inside the reserve, park your car and take a hike.

What will it cost

R5 per vehicle.

What to pack

The sun is fierce in this part of South Africa so always pack plenty of sunscreen and a hat, no matter what the season. There are no shops in the reserve itself, but the town of Port Edward is a mere 12km from the reserve.

Where to stay

Mpenjati Nature Reserve is suitable for day visitors only and there are no overnight facilities available. The KwaZulu-Natal south coast, however, is very traveller-friendly, with plenty of B&Bs, hotels and holiday flats all along the coast.

Related articles