Half Day | Wilderness Ride - Durban
by Erroll de Wet
The Stainbank Nature Reserve is nestled in the residential suburb of Yellowwood Park, approximately 14km from the Durban city centre.
The Reserve has great trails for walking/hiking as well as cycling. There is also a wheelchair friendly trail for the disabled. The ablutions are clean and easily accessible. I found a toilet next to the main car park, one at the picnic area as well as one at the bottom of the Reserve in the Idube Area.
The trails: The trails consist of gravel/sand roads which are great for cycling. This section of road makes a loop from the main gate, takes a left soon after the gate and goes for about 4 km up past the picnic area and then past the castle back down to the main gate. There are well maintained grassy paths branching off from the road which allow for a closer experience of the amazing flora and fauna in the reserve. The reserve also has 4 sections of singletrack for the more adventurous mountain biker. The Idube trail is the least technical section of singletrack and makes for great cycling or hiking under the canopy, right in the heart of the trees, bush and shrubs.
The Dam: A small dam with benches is my favourite resting place in the reserve after a sightseeing cycle. I just love to relax at the dam and admire the abundant birdlife in the reserve. There are over 200 species of birds in the Reserve and we have found a pair of Fish Eagles nesting in the trees on the edge of the Dam.
The Wildlife: I got to cycle up close to a herd of Zebra who seemed quite comfortable with our presence. I would say a distance of about 4 metres between us and these majestic animals.
There are numerous species of Buck in the Reserve including Duiker, Red Buck and a few others which are unfamiliar to me. They feed in large groups in the open grassy areas where one can stop to view them without them being concerned about the presence of humans in their space.
My cycle started at the main gate and we followed the road to the left. There are a few small hills to climb but these are short and manageable to the average cyclist, others might need to get off and push up the last hill approx 50 metres. At the top of that hill the road levels out and is great for comfortable cycling and sightseeing. The picnic area is on the left hand side and has toilets, benches, braai facilites, and a wash up area. The surrounding trees provide welcome shelter from the summer sun.
Continuing along the gravel road for approx 800m brought us to a grassy trail which was smooth and well maintained. An amazing view from the top of this path overlooks the Durban Harbour/City and nearby Quarry. I loved stopping here to watch the hustle and bustle whilst being in the tranquil surroundings of the Reserve. My next stop was at the Castle, which was a private home and has now been preserved for guests to view the décor of days gone by. Groups of 10 or more can book a guided tour around the inside of the Castle.
I decided to tackle the Idube singletrack which was easily manageable with erosion poles being the only real obstacle to the cyclists. This singletrack is completely covered by vegetation, trees, shrubs etc and you feel at one with mother nature. This trail exits at an open grass area with braai spots and toilets. The windy path allows the cyclist to navigate between trees and over small roots.
The road starts again to the right of the grass section and leads back up to the main gate. There are a few small climbs en-route back to the gate.
I have since been back many times and discovered new places and routes/trails. I just love this Reserve and am blessed to live so close
I highly recommend a trip to this “Gem” of a Reserve.