Paradise Valley Nature Reserve KwaZulu-Natal South Africa

Paradise Valley Nature Reserve is a hidden KwaZulu-Natal gem tucked away between Pinetown and Pietermaritzburg. The coastal forest and grasslands have local history, including “mysterious burial mounds” and the remains of Umbilo Waterworks. Built in 1887, today it’s a South African national monument.


“In the late 19th Century, Durbanites caught a train to Pinetown Bridge and walked down to The Waterworks for picnicking, boating, fishing, and hiking. In 1905, a destructive flood quickly put an end to Umbilo Dam.”

Waterworks Ruin

Waterworks Ruin


“In 15 devastating hours 16 inches of rain fell, and logs, bamboo, and debris blocked the river at Pinetown Bridge.”


Waterworks Ruin Spillway

The bridge gave way, and the ensuing tidal wave killed hundreds of people and destroyed countless homes on the lower Umbilo riverbanks. Durban discovered alternative water supplies, so Umbilo Dam was never rebuilt.

Strelitzia Nicolai – Wild Banana Tree

Hiking Trails

There are four hiking trails in the nature reserve – Duiker, Bushbuck, Waterfall, and Dormouse. They begin at the Interpretive Centre on a path leading down to the picnic area. The start of the Waterfall Trail is a walk over old wooden bridges on the other side of the Umbilo River. The trail continues following beautiful flat river rock and thick jungle-like terrain with massive strelitzias – wild banana trees.


The Waterfall Trail passes sprawling yellowwood trees, ponds, and a historical waterworks slipway. Near the bottom of the falls beyond the turnoff to Duiker Trail, there’s a natural viewing platform. In the summer heat, a large pool below the falls is tempting, but water quality is poor, and swimming isn’t recommended.

Paradise Valley Wooden Bridge

I’ve been a bit under the weather with a stubborn virus and haven’t done much strenuous activity for a week or so. The gentle Waterfall Trail was perfect. I met several couples enjoying the romantic falls and heard but did not see animals. Fragrances in the light, humid air and the sweet sounds of birds singing were magnificent!

Bushbuck Cardo Kleberg

Dormouse Pinterest

5 thoughts on “Paradise Valley Nature Reserve KwaZulu-Natal South Africa

    • Thanks Gwen – the virus is a tough antibiotic-resistant one and it will take time to recover fully – several different antibiotics, cortisone, and inhalers for congestion. The doctor says it must be resolved quickly as my next stop in Mozambique is not the best place for medical assistance.Sounds like I smoke 3 packs a day…. ;(

      Liked by 1 person

      • We had a super-charged virus last year which they have nick-named the Australian Flu, and several countries then went on to experience it. If it is like that one, I have to warn you it was not a quick recovery. I was laid flat on my back for about three days, and needed an inhaler also. Hope it’s not that.


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