|Location: South Africa » Kwazulu Natal » Hibiscus Coast » Uvongo|
The borough of Uvongo, established in 1954 some 132km south-west of Durban, includes the townships of Manaba Beach, Uvongo Beach and St Michael's on Sea.
The name is a corruption of the Zulu word iVungu (the place where a low, rumbling sound is made), from which the river also takes its name. It refers to the waterfall near the beach where the river tumbles 23m into a pool some 27m deep at the edge of a large lagoon.
* Thure Lilliecrona Park on the banks of the Vungu River commemorates the first owner of the farm, the well known angler and surveyor TG Lilliecrona who laid out the settlement as a garden village.
* The Uvongo Bird Park boasts a large collection of birds.
Is famous for it’s waterfall that plunges 23 m down into the lagoon forming one of the deepest lagoons in the country and the huge rock escarpment, dense with foliage, that shelters the beach. Alongside the river runs a foot path, leading to the UvongoRiver Nature Reserve. Hawkers can be found on the beach selling their fruit, basketry and craft. A children’s paddling pool is situated on the grassy banks shaded by trees.
How to get there
Cape Town 1507 km, Durban 140 km, Johannesburg 735 km Port Elizabeth 793 km
Altitude – 960 m above sea level
Average Rainfall – 125 mm per month
Average temperatures – Summer 18°c – 31°c; Winter 16°c – 20°c
Banks – Absa (ATM), FNB (ATM), Nedbank (ATM), Perm (ATM), Standard (ATM)
Rivers – Izotsha, Umtamvuna, Umzimkulu
Margate Art Museum - Displays by talented local artists.
Empisini Nature Reserve
There are picnic and braai sites alongside the dam for use by day visitors. Several excellent trails meander through the various habitats in the reserve and the trails along the Empisini Stream provide excellent forest birding. Mammal species include vervet monkey, large spotted genet and blue duiker.
Mpenjati Nature Reserve
Magnificent views of the lagoon and the wetland system can be enjoyed from the observation platforms situated along the walking trails. Shy forest antelope can also be sighted on occasion.
Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve
One of the most scenic reserves in southern Kwazulu Natal offering attractive picnic sites and several walking trails of 1 km to 9 km in length. Larger mammals found in the reserve include aardwolf, leopard and chacma baboon.
Skyline Nature Reserve
The arboretum includes some 76 indigenous tree species, about 300 other indigenous trees and 400 exotic tree species. Self guided trails along path ways boasting majestic tree species.
TC Robertson Nature Reserve
There are several picnic and braai sites in the reserve. A system of trails about 10 km in length covers all habitats in the reserve. Mammal species include Slender Mongoose and black backed jackal.
Umdoni Nature Reserve
There is an extensive network of trails through Umdoni. The forest birding is excellent. Mammals on the estate include bush buck and blue duiker.
Umtamvuna Nature Reserve
A botanical paradise offering numerous walks and fantastic scenery. Many small mammals can be seen and numerous bird species including a breeding colony of the endemic and threatened Cape Vulture.
Uvongu River Nature Reserve
Well defined walking trails extend upstream through sub tropical forests. Picnic and braai sites are available. More than 129 bird species can be found here.
Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve
Fifty six mammal species including zebra, blue wildebeest and impala. Over 300 bird species and an interesting variety of flora surrounding the picturesque picnic spots
Weza Ngele Forest
A network of trails and forestry roads, varying between 1,2 km and 16 km in length, lead through the forest.
Air Show - Largest of it’s kind in South Africa, staged annually in May
Take an unforgettable journey on this narrow gauge steam train which passes through Shelley Beach on it’s journey from Port Shepstone to Izotsha, Paddock and Harding. Walking tours include the baboon trail at Oribi Gorge. How about a picnic in the Station Master’s garden at Paddock? Short trips to Izotsha Ethnic Handcraft Village and back are very popular. Tickets can be purchased in advance from the Information Centre on Margate’s beachfront or at the Shelley Beach Centre.
A variety of arts and crafts including woven articles, rugs, wall hangings, mohair blankets and a selection of pottery are available at Die Spinwiel.
Visit the Uvongo Rotary Club’s fleamarket for the biggest selection of arts, crafts and gifts for all occasions. Every Saturday 07:30 – 13:30.
The festival is held during the July school holiday. It includes street parades, beauty pageants and beach entertainment. Held in Margate.
Always alive with action. The ‘mile long’ beach is an attraction that appeals to all. In season there is a festive holiday programme with beauty pageants, musical concerts, and lots of fun for the whole family to enjoy. Like the green parks of London, Margate Beach is an intrinsic part of the town that surrounds it. How you will find an amusement park, an Olympic size fresh water pool and an expanse of sand for playing beach games.
Model Car Racing
Regular meetings are held at the Douglas Mitchell Sports Grounds in Uvongo. The dirt track and asphalt race circuits are as good as any in the country. Visitors and novices can bring their cars and compete in special classes. Off road every 1st Sunday, on road every 2nd Sunday. Both tracks are of international standard.
Mzwelele Craft Shop
Visit for the most spectacular array of crafts gathered from the far corners of the world.
Organized weekend bird watching outings and special trips can be arranged.
Old MacDonald’s Animal Farm
Old MacDonald’s Family Farm offers entertainment for the whole family. Spend a day on the banks of the Izotsha River fishing or just relaxing while the kids amuse themselves. Pony rides, tractor rides and feeding the farm animals and birds are great fun for the little ones.
Riverbend Crocodile Farm
Situated on the old national road 500 m off the new toll road at Southbroom. Visit the most popular tourist attraction on the South Coast. Riverbend Crocodile Farm. This commercial crocodile farm, 8 km south of Margate, designed to please tourists with it’s beautifully landscaped pools and thatched buildings, attracts thousands of visitors annually. The farm, the second of it’s kind in South Africa, was established in 1981 and is now home to more than 200 Nile Crocodiles ranging in size from new born hatchlings to 50 year old giants of 4,5 m in length. These prehistoric animals can be viewed in their natural aquatic habitat as they bask in the warm, tropical South Coast sun. The farm acts as a breeding farm for one of the biggest rearing farms in the country situated in the Natal Midlands, producing 3000 hatchlings annually. A bridge over the pools allows a bird’s eye view of the crocodiles in the water, the mating shallows, and the sand banks where eggs are laid. A number of birds have been attached by the watery environment and now share a home with their 200 million year old cousins, the crocodiles. The most common birds seen include the Hamerkop, Water Dikkop, weavers, plovers, herons, Yellowbilled Kite, and Fish Eagle. The crocodile pools encircle an audio visual room and Crocodile Museum where some interesting facts on crocodiles can be discovered. Crocodile feeding on a Sunday afternoon at 15:00 is a major attraction being spectacular in summer when the crocodiles are hungrier.
Did You know?
There are 23 species of crocodile and alligators in the world. (The Nile Crocodile being the only species endemic to South Africa). Nile crocodiles have been known to reach 110 years in age and can attain a size of up to 6 m and weigh as much as 850 kg. crocodiles still result in more human deaths than any other animal in South Africa. Crocodiles can remain under water for 2 – 3 hours and while doing so can see and hear. Crocodiles can swim at 15 km / h and reach speeds of 18 km / h on land. Crocodiles, being cold blooded reptiles, regulate their body temperature by expelling or absorbing heat from the inside of their mouths.
Curios / Farmstall
Besides crocodiles, Riverbend also offers a farmstall selling fresh produce and the best bananas on the coast. The curio shop is not only well known for it’s elegant crocodile and ostrich leatherware but is famous for it’s home preserves, nuts and fruit rolls.
The Riverbend Art Gallery, a further attraction has established itself as one of the best art outlets on the South African artists and potters, as well as locally manufactured jewellery.
A family tea garden / restaurant which offers light lunches and specializes in waffles, cream teas and many other delicacies. It is a venue which is often used for 21st birthday parties, weddings and other family functions. Open seven days a week, with exception of Christmas Day and Good Friday.
Sithela Tribal and Nature Experience
Here in the Zulu Tribal area of Nzimakwe, ‘the place of iron’, the discerning visitor may discover the true face of Africa. Be it in the great contrast between the harsh reality of everyday life and the mystique of age old traditions, beliefs and the mystique of age old traditions, beliefs and customs by which the people are still ruled. Picture, in your mind’s eye, a wash day below the waterfall of the Little Mpenyati, or the changing of the sangoma, consulting the ancestral spirits in the inner sactum, to guide her in treating ailments or solving the personal problems of her people. Experience the atmosphere of reverence at the Hill of Worship, where the people pray for rain. Visit common folk in their home or the Royal Princess Nombuso at her courtroom. See the handcraft of artistic tribespeople, or view distant snow capped mountains, majestic birds of prey hovering over awesome gorges.
Ski Boat Bay
Popular venue in Ramsgate for the ski boat fraternity and at Big Tree you will meet up with wind surfers on the Mbizana Lagoon.
Is sure to help you find your place in the universe. Discover the stars, planets, UFO’s and aliens with the largest private collection of telescopes, lazers and optical equipment in Africa.
The Mud Hut Gallery
Is the ultimate browse, curios, crafts, pots, handcrafted jewellery, clothing and much more.
The Wildabout Art and Craft Trail
Uvongo Bird Park
The most beautiful display of exotic and indigenous birds on the South Coast can be found at Uvongo Bird Park. A walk through the aviary gets you close to the birds and the animal farm and duckpond will keep the children amused.
Wild Coast Sun
Take time out, go wild. Explore the Wild Coast Sun’s magnificent beaches. Take part in a wide array of outdoor adventure activities. Tee off at one of South Africa’s top golf courses, dine in the finest restaurants, or go for that million at this world class casino.
Zizamela Tour Gamalakhe Cultural / Township Tours
Gamalakhe is a modern township situated inland from Margate on a flat plateau overlooking the rolling hills beyond. It is home to 15 000 residents, many of whom live in a modern neighbourhood whilst other still live in the yet to be demolished transit village of Tintown. Here the new South Africa and old tribal customs merge, providing a fascinating mixture of old world customs and modern day consumerism. A cultural tour to Gamalakhe will introduce the visitors to the local community. You will meet traditional leaders, the Inkosi, and spiritual healers, the sangomas. Your hosts Ntombizonke Khowa and Ntombikayise Mthembu, part time workers at the Vulindlela Guest house in Ramsgate, will provide you with a fascinating account of life in Gamalakhe. Visit the Inkosi in his kraal and see where he holds court. They will take you to a training school for the sangomas. See craft manufactured by modern and traditional methods. Enjoy refreshments and a social exchange in a modern home. The three to four hour tour caters for a minimum of four people. Bookings is essential at Vulindlela Guest House of the Tourist Information offices on Margate Beach.
Boating / Canoeing
Paddle boats and canoes are available for hire at Margate, Ramsgate, Uvong and St Michael’s.
Boardsailling - Ramsgate lagoon is the top spot for boardsailers
Diving – Scuba Diver’s Paradise
The southern Natal coastline has become a paradise for scuba divers seeking the thrills and splendour of, amongst others, the adventurous shark dive on the Protea Banks. With as many as 40 000 dives a year taking place at Aliwal Shoal, which is 60 km north of Margate, many enthusiasts are traveling further south to explore the Protea Banks that run parallel to the continental shelf approximately 7 km offshore from Margate. The launch site for Protea Banks is the Shelley Beach small craft harbour. From here dive operators take up to 10 divers at a time out to sea in specially designed semi rigid dive boats. Protea Banks is considered to be one of the best shark dives in the world. The depth varies between 26 m and 30 m, with a generally strong current running. Divers must have at least an advanced qualification to participate. Sharks encountered on Protea include Zambezi, Scalloped and great Hammerhead Shark, Tiger Shark, Copper Shark, Blacktip Shark, Ragged Tooth Shark and, if one is lucky, a Great White. There are also large concentrations of game fish to be seen year round. They offer full dive resort facilities including air fills, nitrox fills, dive courses, sales, services and daily dive charters to Protea Banks.
Dolphin, Whale and Marine Bird Watching
Take to the sea by boat and view the most spectacular sights during the winter months.Watch thousands of Cape Gannets dive bombing for sardines. Get a close up view of other marine birds that follow the sardines, the Tern, the White Chained Petrels, Wilson Storm Petrels and even the Shy Blackbrowed and Yellow Albastrosses may be sighted. Dolphins are found all year round but are in abundance with the annual winter migration of the sardines. Approximately 3000 Bottlenose Dolphins 30 000 Common Dolphins move inshore to feed off the sardines, providing a never to be forgotten spectacle. You can swim in the water and listen to the dolphins communicating in clicks and squeaks or witness Humpback, Southern Right and Minke Whales breaching. The lucky few might even spot a turtle or two. Enquiries at Margate Tourism.
Five of the top fifty golf courses in the whole of southern Africa are found less than 45 minutes drive from Margate. The challenging layouts of the Wild Coast Country Club and San Lameer, the parklike setting of Selborne and Umdoni Park and the unique coastal location of Southbroom are completed by a string of highly popular holiday courses for the visitor to enjoy all year round. The Margate Country Club is an extremely popular venue. The course, redesigned by professionals in recent years, offers a rewarding challenge to low and high handicappers alike and the social encounter at the clubhouse can be highly rewarding. The St Michael’s golf course has an interesting nine hole layout, winding it’s way through the residential neighbourhood, whilst the finishing holes border on the lagoon. Packages for golfing groups are organized by Margate Tourism and include accommodation, transfers, tee off times and entertainment.
Igoso Trail – Experience Zulu culture
Hooked on Fishing
Popular fishing spots are found along the entire coastline. Margate pier and Uvongo pier are very popular all year round. Fishing is best during the shad run, which starts in May. The Kwazulu Natal South Coast offers one of the finest angling areas in the world – with very good reason. The surging sea is home to an infinite variety of fish, from cold water species such as Galjoen, Garrick and Salmon to the gamefish which the warm Mozambique current brings with it every summer – Kingfish, Barracuda, Queenfish and Gunter. From endless stretches of golden sands or from a gently rocking ski boat, fishing off Margate is a relaxing experience. Lagoons, piers, jetties, rocks and deep sea fishing are all within easy reach. The coastline boasts massive rock formations where anglers stand endlessly on the lookout for the elusive Shad. Tackle and sports shops in town will advise you on local rules and conditions. Licences are required to remove any maring life from the sea and shore and in some cases there are bag limits. The season for crayfish is from November 1 to the last day in February whilst the shad season is from December 1 to end August (these dates are subject to change).
Quiet, pleasant rides through a private game park on well behaved horses, River Valley Stables. Beginners are welcome.
Mountain Biking / Cycling
Take to the hills of the beautiful country by mountain bike and experience the Hibiscus Coast’s most scenic attractions.
Oribi Gorge – The longest commercial abseil in the world
Imagine the exhilaration of abseiling down a 101 m rockfare overlooking the 170 m Lehr waterfall which tumbles into the gorge way down below. Qualified instructors are on hand to show you the ropes.
Take a day trip down the Umzimkulu river in a five man inflatable raft. The run includes a number of rapids up to grade four, depending on river conditions. Lunch is served on the river banks.
St Michael’s beach is not the only surfer’s paradise on the coast – Uvongo beach, Lucien Point and Margate beach also provide some challenging rides.
Tidal pools have been built into the rocks at Margate, Manaba, Uvongo, Ramsgate, St Michael’s and Shelley Beach. The water is refreshed by the morning tide. There is a fresh water Olympic standard swimming pool at Margate beach.
The Sardine Run
During winter, starting in June, more often than not there is a spectacular display of large migrating pilchard, known locally as sarding, that swim north of gigantic shoals. They are followed by a frenzy of game fish, dolphins, sharks, birds and excited anglers. This is a unique phenomenon, which seldom occurs elsewhere in the world. On occasion, millions of these small fish are beached by the incoming tides and that is when ‘Sardine Fever’ grips the local fisherman and visitors alike as they scramble to catch a bucketful, providing an unexpected harvest of food for the local communities, or bait for the hook with a bigger catch in mind. Shad fishing off the rocks and piers is extremely active during the sardine run and for those who love the taste of fresh fish from the sea – shad has no equal. Nature puts on a wonderful display – with birds diving into the ocean from lofty heights – dolphins wave jumping and surfing in the translucent waves – and you may even spot a whale basking offshore. Generally the safe bathing nets are lifted to avoid the unnecessary capture of the dolphins but are reinstated the moment the shoals have passed.
The Umtamvuna River is te perfect location for water skiing or taking a jet ski ride. There is also a sundown or booze cruise that takes you on a leisurely trip up the river.
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