The Umtamvuna River carves its way through steep scenic gorges from its source in the Ngele Mountains down to the Indian Ocean. From Caribbean Estates, it is navigable to the Old Pont Resort, approximately 4 kilometers inland.
High rocky outcrops, verdant hills, small sandy beaches and secret little coves provide the most peaceful and lovely scenery. Look out for the Samango monkeys, baboons (generally on the highest point), Monitor lizards, Vervet monkeys, Sandpipers and the regal Fish Eagles.
If you decide to proceed on foot from the Pont into the Umtamvuna Nature Reserve, even more spectacular views await you. There is a simple walk alongside the river up to Leopards Beach (no-one's seen a leopard there, but you could believe that they might be around!). This is a short easy trail of about half an hour through riverine bush. It is well worth packing a picnic lunch to enjoy on the white sands of the beach - you can even cool off in the deep rock pools.
The Umtamvuna Reserve stretches some 25kms alongside the river and is 3,300 hectares in length. There are some rare plant species that can be seen; a total of 1,300 indigenous flowering plants. There are a number of walks and hikes to choose from. There is a second access with delightful covered braai areas about 8kms up the Izingolweni Road (turn inland at the Port Edward traffic lights).
In the reserve, look out for Bushbuck, Serval, blue and grey Duiker, Reedbuck and lots of other small mammals, including the Scrub hare and some mongoose. Also, keep a look out for the charming little woodland Dormouse, who may not be terribly visible, as they are 17cms long and live in trees! On the riverbanks themselves you may well see Dassies on the rocks, clawless Otter spoor (look out for the crunched up crab shells), and certainly lots of water and bush birds.
Jan and Natalie Abbot offer guided walks, bird watching and Bass fishing, Landrover day trips, tree and flower spotting, as well as mountain bike trails through the reserve and farmlands (there are bikes for hire). Contact Jan or Natalie on (039) 311 1130 / 083 549 6710 for more details.
The Caribbean Estates hosts a vast diversity of bird life, in and around the estate. Our favourite residents are the beautiful peacocks, yellow bishops and white whistlers, all content with living on the estate. Bird enthusiast will be in awe, so bring your binoculars.
Located only a few kilometres from Caribbean Estates, the Umtamvuna Nature Reserve is an absolute must. Run by the KwaZulu Conservation Services, it covers some 3250 hectares and lies along 25 kilometres of the river. There are several trails for walkers of varying degrees of ease and severity.
To quote Tony Abbott from the Reserve's publication: "The magic of hidden waterfalls, of staggeringly beautiful cliffs of curious colours and fantastic formations, the views over grassland to gorge and sea beyond, the blaze of colour as the grasslands burst into spring flowers ... a complete peace: all this and more is here to tempt you".