Indigenous wildlife and spectacular vistas can be observed in the parks and nature reserves surrounding Pietermaritzburg.
Midmar Public Nature Reserve
In the Inhluanza Hills, to the west of Howick, is the Midmar Public Nature Reserve (area 2,844ha/7,025ac), within which is the Midmar Dam, a favorite haunt of water sports enthusiasts and anglers. Visitors can observe - from a boat or a cross-country vehicle - white rhinos, zebras, wildebeests, antelopes and water birds. There is good walking and riding in the reserve, which also has tennis, boccia and squash courts, a swimming pool, a children's playground, camping sites and a restaurant. Accommodation for visitors is available in chalets and huts.Near the reserve is Midmar Historical Village, with an exhibition of mementos of pioneering days. There is also a smithy, a typical Zulu village, old steam locomotives and agricultural implements.
The impressive Howick Falls, 119m/360ft high (near the town of that name, 25km/15mi north of Pietermaritzburg), are the most striking feature in the Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve, which attracts thousands of visitors every year. The reserve contains more than 200 species of birds, as well as giraffes, zebras, wildebeests and many species of antelope. There are hiking trails along the river; some accommodation for visitors.
World's View is a viewpoint 18km/5mi northwest of Pietermaritzburg on the old road to Howick (which rejoins N 3 at Hilton). From the top of the hill (1,083m/3,553ft) there is a magnificent view of the city. The old voortrekkers' road can be seen winding its way up the hill (picnic spots).
Albert Falls Nature Reserve
23km/14mi northeast of Pietermaritzburg, on the road to Graytown, is the Albert Falls Nature Reserve (area 3012ha/7440ac; open throughout the year). Here, in a beautiful setting, is a lake fringed with vegetation, with excellent opportunities for bird-watching, sailing, rowing and picnicking. There are also hiking trails and a riding arena. The fauna consists mainly of zebras and various species of antelope and gazelle. There is accommodation for visitors in two camps with well equipped chalets.
Queen Elizabeth Park
Queen Elizabeth Park (area 100ha/250ac;), 8km/5mi north of the city, has a luxuriant growth of vegetation, including aloes and proteas, and many species of birds. Good walks; picnic spots.
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