Situated just seven kilometres from Howick and 24 kilometres from Pietermaritzburg, the Midmar Dam Nature Reserve is a great spot for locals and visitors alike. The large fresh water dam is fed by the uMngeni River, offering a fun water sports and fishing venue. Day trippers often make use of numerous shady picnic areas and braai facilities along the shoreline.
Windsurfing, canoeing, swimming and mountain biking are popular activities around the Midmar Dam. In certain areas it is zoned for yachts and powerboats. The world’s largest open water swimming event, the Midmar Mile, draws over 16 000 international and local competitors annually to swim the dam in record time.
The reserve is also home to numerous red hartebeest, blesbok, reedbuck, black wildebeest, oribi and zebra. Carp, bass, scalies and bluegill fish proliferate in the dam. Pick up a freshwater fishing licence at the office near the entrance gates. Below the dam, the uMngeni River plummets over the Howick Falls on its way to the Indian Ocean.
Abseil Howick FallsIf life has become a little dull, why not walk over the edge and abseil down the second tallest waterfall in South Africa. At the bottom of the thundering 107-metre-high Howick Falls, you plop into an inflatable boat that takes you to the start of an indigenous forest walk.The trail takes you through the Howick Falls Conservancy where you may catch a glimpse of nesting crowned and fish eagles. If you’re quiet you might even spot shy bush buck in the shadows. The Zulu name for Howick Falls is KwaNogqaza, meaning Place of the Tall One. According to local teachings, the plunge pool at the bottom is the home of the Inkanyamba, a Loch Ness-type creature. It is believed that only sangomas can safely approach the falls, and only to offer prayers to the Inkanyamba ancestral spirits.Contact www.spiritofadventure.co.za for abseiling: +27 (0)31 769 1981.
Things to do near
*Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling
Winterskloof (14.5 km from Howick)
The Doreen Clark Nature Reserve is only a short distance from the north of Pietermaritzburg. The seven hectare nature reserve consists of a podocarpus forest with grassland running along its edges.
There are quaint picnic spots scattered around the reserve, as well as hiking trails ranging in difficulty but suitable for all ages. The reserve is a bird watcher's paradise with regular visitors such as the African emerald cuckoo, narina trogon,and white-starred robin. The magnificent African crowned eagle is also a resident bird of the nature reserve, and visitors can spot more than five different species of cuckoo during the summer season.
Hilton (15.8 km from Howick)
Serving as the headquarters of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, KwaZulu-Natal’s nature conservation service, this small reserve offers an outdoor leisure and environmental education facility for the Natal Midlands.
Situated in Hilton, Queen Elizabeth Park Nature Reserve is home to impala, zebra, blesbok, bushbuck, grey and blue duiker, dassies, and crowned eagles. Numerous indigenous and exotic plants grow throughout the park. Of special interest are several cycads species and endangered Hilton daisies occurring naturally in the grasslands.
There is no accommodation but day trippers can make use of three picnic areas with braai and ablution facilities. More energetic folk can do the circular self-guided iDube trail.
Albert Falls (22 km from Howick)
One of the largest dams in KwaZulu-Natal, Albert Falls Dam and Nature Reserve is a popular playground for sailors, canoeists, twitchers, hikers, horse riders and fisherfolk.
The dam is rated one of the best bass fishing dams in the world and an international bass fishing competition is held there annually.
The reserve has abundant bird life as well as zebra and several antelope species. In winter Otto's Bluff is worth checking out when the aloes are flowering.
Galleries and Museums
Pietermaritzburg (24 km from Howick)
You’re always assured of seeing something new at the Natal Museum
Here you’ll view a constant array of fascinating temporary exhibitions and happenings ranging from xenophobic violence to a mixed children’s art exhibition at this dynamic museum.
2010 sees the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indian people and an exploration of the history of segregation in the US.
Eight natural history and ten cultural history galleries showcase numerous mammals including the last wild elephant in KwaZulu-Natal, birds, amphibians, insects and an extensive mollusc collection. Kids will love checking out the life-size T-Rex model.
Stroll through a life-size rendering of a Drakensberg rock art cave or walk the plank of a wrecked trading vessel in the Towns and Trade Exhibition.
The museum has an internet café, resource library for learners, film room and coffee/snack bar.
Open Monday to Friday 09:00 – 16:30, Saturdays 10:00 – 16:00 Sundays 11:00 – 15:00.
Galleries and Museums
Pietermaritzburg (24 km from Howick)
The statue of Mahatma Ghandi commemorates the centenary of his experience at the Pietermaritzburg railway station in 1893 when he was cast out from a first class carriage because he was not White. Gandhi had close links to Pietermaritzburg and his passive resistance campaign is closely linked to the city.
“My life is my message”, Mahatma Ghandi.
Galleries and Museums
Pietermaritzburg (24.8 km from Howick)
The Blue Caterpillar Art Gallery is situated in the Butterflies for Africa complex in Pietermaritzburg. The gallery was established in 2001 and exhibits both local and international artists.
There is a wide variety of paintings, prints, sculptures, ceramics, and photography on display. The different styles and subject matters include sublime landscapes, quirky French villagers and contemporary woodcut prints.
Pietermaritzburg (25.4 km from Howick)
Take an inspirational walk through the tropical house of Butterflies for Africa. This lush and spectacular environment brings visitors into close contact with free-flying indigenous and exotic butterflies.
Butterflies for Africa flies high with some of the top butterfly houses from around the globe with some unique offerings. The complex features a walk-through butterfly house, craft shop, art gallery, coffee bar, African art and craft centre, butterfly nursery and a garden planted with a big variety of food plants for butterflies.
+27 (0) 33 387 1356
37 Willowton Rd, Willowton, Pietermaritzburg
Tuesday to Friday 09:00 – 16:30
Saturday 09:30 – 15:30
Sunday 10:30 – 15:30
Closed on New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Scottsville (25.9 km from Howick)
Scottsville Racecourse's modern facilities incorporate all the very best in racecourse comfort, elegance and intimacy. Easily one of the most attractive racecourses in South Africa, Scottsville is situated 2.5 km from Pietermaritzburg’s city centre.
The Spanish-style course buildings include a number of restaurants, an pub and a picnic enclosure as well as the more usual racing facilities. The Golden Horse Casino is conveniently attached to the Scottsville Grandstand allowing both racing and casino customers easy access to both facilities.
Pietermaritzburg (25.9 km from Howick)
One of the most popular casinos in KwaZulu-Natal situated opposite the Scottsville Racecourse. Offers hi-tech gaming facilities as well as event and conference facilities.
Galleries and Museums
Fort Nottingham (34.3 km from Howick)
Fort Nottingham is very quiet and there’s not much to do except visit the smallest town hall in South Africa – it’s more like a medium-sized garden shed – and spend an hour or so in the museum that’s now housed in the old fort.
Fort Nottingham derives its name from Nottingham shire's Regiment - the 45th 'Sherwood Foresters', who were stationed there in 1856. This fort was originally developed when a body of troops manned it to protect settlers in the foothills of the Drakensberg from Bushman or San cattle raids. Visitors can visit the Fort Nottingham Museum located 15 km southwest of Nottingham Road.
Open Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 – 16:00. Closed Monday to Tuesday.
The annual Bell’s Fort Nottingham Highland and Traditional Games are held on the grounds of Fort Nottingham (8 km from the village). The festival encompasses events, exhibitors, food stalls, highland dancing and athletic games typically found at the Breamar Games in Scotland.
Camperdown (40.3 km from Howick)
Home to eleven of the twelve owl species, five of the eight vulture species and numerous magnificent raptors found in Southern Africa, the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary is well worth a visit.
Dedicated to conserving indigenous raptors, the haven is also a base for continuing research, breeding and rehabilitation projects for birds of prey, mostly run ‘behind the scenes’. There is also a large selection of captive-bred or ‘non-releasable rehabilitation’ birds. These feathered friends can be viewed in their ‘micro-environment’ visitors keen to discover more about South Africa’s beautiful aerial predators.
Specially trained birds wow spectators with their daily flight displays, given to educate and facilitate awareness of effective conservation of our environment and its creatures. These demonstrations allow the winged beauties themselves to become both teachers and ambassadors for their wild counterparts, giving the audience a first-hand experience of these rare and elusive birds.
Open Tuesday to Sunday 09:00 – 16:00. Closed on Christmas Day and during the Comrades Marathon.
Flying Display Times: weekdays (except Mondays) 10:30, weekends and public holidays 10:30 and 15:00.
'Gobble and Squabble' Vulture Feeding Sessions: weekends 12:00 (phone and confirm should this be your primary reason for visiting).
+27 (0) 31 785 4382
Four By Four Trails
Mooi River (49.9 km from Howick)
The Hidden Valley Trail or Southern Cross is a scenic and mountainous 4x4 trail, 40 km from Mooi River. The trail is ideal for both the experienced and beginner 4x4 driver with a difficulty grading from 3 to 5. Low range, high clearance vehicles are necessary for this trail. The trail can be completed in about 3 hours. Please call for further information.
Camperdown (50.9 km from Howick)
Enjoy an exhilarating flight with awesome views as you climb to altitude over Durban's golden beaches, the turquoise Indian Ocean and the Valley of a Thousand Hills.
Durban Skydive Centre will lift you up into the sky to jump at an altitude of 8 000 to 12 000 ft. You will be firmly attached to a qualified and experienced tandem instructor and free-fall for an unforgettable 45 seconds.
After the free-fall, you will have the opportunity to fly the canopy during the 6-minute parachute descent. The instructor will take over for the landing.
Need to know Everything is provided; all you need to bring is running shoes. Maximum weight limit is 110 kg. Open daily from January to December; bookings are every hour from 09:00 to 14:00.
072 214 6040
Central Drakensberg (58.1 km from Howick)
The Kamberg Rock Art attraction is very popular in the area.
The rock art has existed for hundreds of years and attracts people from all corners of the world. The climb to the rock art takes about 1 and a half hours and you can get a guide for as little as R25. Guides have a rather extensive knowledge of the area and are very informative.
Drakensberg (58.3 km from Howick)
The Kamberg Nature Reserve is located on the foothills of the mountains in the Natal Drakensberg Park. There are many picnic sites near the river, trout dams, and well-maintained walks, one of which is handicap friendly.
The self-guided and guided trails pass through the surrounding areas of the 'Little Berg' and along the Mooi River. There is also a rock art shelter with original Bushman rock art. The San people inhabited the area before they encountered violent clashes with the white settlers and the Nguni tribes.
Wildlife in the reserve includes reedbuck, blesbok, black wildebeest, grey rhebuck, eland, duiker, red hartebeest, and oribi.