Amatikulu Nature Reserve is situated at the confluence of the Matikulu and Nyoni rivers, the latter running parallel to the coast for about 8 kms before entering the lagoon.
The Reserve, which served as a leper colony until the 1970’s, occupies a narrow strip along the coast reaching a maximum width of 3 kms and a length of about 17 kms.
Infrastructure within the Reserve consists of two roads, a 4×4 trail, a few hiking trails as well as accommodation in a tented camp. There are at least 7 kms of navigable waterways to explore and visitors can hire a two man canoe or a pontoon boat. Only motorboats with a maximum engine size of 15hp are allowed.
Despite its size, the Reserve contains many different habitats and has an impressive checklist of over 300 birds including 25 species of raptor.
There are no dangerous animals in the Reserve but there are healthy populations of game including giraffe, kudu, zebra, impala, waterbuck and bushbuck.
Humpback whales are often seen between September and November from the observation tower built on one of the high dunes overlooking a magnificent stretch of unspoilt coastline.
To get to the beach, you can either paddle there or walk next to the Amatikulu River and wade through the Nyoni but be warned that crocodiles have been sighted in the river. The beach is long and empty with crashing surf and a sense of complete and utter isolation.
Take a packed lunch, an umbrella and a good book. Enjoy!
Amatikulu Nature Reserve is open daily: 06h00 – 18h00.
An entrance fee and community levy is payable at the entrance gate.
On the north bank of the Amatikulu River mouth is one of the most unusual restaurants in Zululand The Prawn Shack.
Over weekends visitors can spend a leisurely afternoon on a timber sundeck overlooking the estuary and enjoy a seven course seafood meal with prawns harvested from a nearby prawn farm and grilled on an open fire.
Besides prawns, the menu includes fresh linefish, Zulu sushi and a local favourite known as a Prawn Bunnie Chow. Diners are encouraged to take a stroll on the beach halfway through this marathon culinary session.
Contact: 084 737 6493
The Beach and River Trails are just over 1km long and take visitors through coastal and riverine habitats.
Visitors wishing to go to the beach should hire canoes from the reception office as crocodiles do occur in the Nyoni river.
The Whale Trail is highly recommended as the view from the observation tower is probably the best panoramic view to be enjoyed on the entire Zululand coast.
The iLala Trail is long (a round trip of 14 kms) but is the best for game viewing and takes hikers through rare iLala palm bushveld. The striking greyleaved Lala palm with its large bunches of shiny brown fruits is very common in this area.
The trail's turning point is Matshangulo Pan which often provides good game viewing at sunrise or sunset when the animals are more active.