Head for the great outdoors, enjoy the early-winter crisp weather and discover somewhere new: visit the Mqeku Picnic Site – a magical unexplored playground only 20 minutes from Hillcrest in the heart of the Valley of 1000 Hills.
With Youth Day and Father’s Day both coming up in the next fortnight – families may be looking for interesting things to do together.
Mqeku offers fabulous birding opportunities (including sightings of the rare African Finfoot); river tubing or “bum-sliding” on a natural rock slide, 4×4 trails; nature hikes and picturesque picnic and braai sites, with a toilet and water – all in pristine indigenous vegetation. For those who want to make a full weekend of it, there are fully serviced Pop Up Camping options too.
Owned and managed by the gregarious nature-lover Sibusiso Shangase, with marketing and management, support from Green Corridors, a Durban-based environmental non-profit organization supported by the economic development unit of eThekwini Municipality. Sibusiso is a certified South African Tourist Guide, and his qualified team welcomes guests to the site and offers a guiding service to visitors keen to know more about the area. The site is on his family’s ancestral land, which allows him to talk to visitors personally and authentically about the diverse fauna, flora, and history of the area.
The area is environmentally pristine. Situated on the confluence of the uMngeni and Mqueku Rivers, Shangase and his family are proud to have kept the bush wholly indigenous, with distinctive fever trees framing the meandering rivers punctuated with enormous granite rocks – perfect for soaking up the winter sun! The more adventurous can explore the river and the natural water slide on tubes.
Mqeku is accessible with a conventional car – but is especially fun for 4×4 fans – offering various trails throughout the reserve – self-drive or more formal 4×4 trails offered by Monteseel Adventures.
For those who prefer to savor nature in a more sedate way, scenic walking and hiking trails are available. Hikes are easy enough to follow unguided, or visitors can book Shangase for a guided walk. Visitors can take a slow stroll towards the old Mfula trading store, something of a landmark for Dusi canoe fans, and still has a small shop in operation.
Mqeku is a perfect destination for family groups or meetings of friends – also for corporate outings and enviro-themed functions and events.
The site is part of the Green Corridors initiative: an eco-sustainability project which involves collaboration with local communities, creating multiple opportunities for members to participate in the health and welfare of their natural surroundings. Green Corridors partners with a variety of stakeholders, to create open spaces in key local destinations and plays a vital role in improving the quality of the environment within which communities live, work, play, and thrive.
Good to Know:
Mqeku Picnic Site is about 20 minutes from Hillcrest.
There is a nominal entry charge which goes towards the upkeep of the site.
Activities include picnic sites, amazing bird watching (including a local African Finfoot), 4×4 trails, hiking trails, MTB rides, river tubing, and local cultural walks.
River tubes, helmets, and lifejackets can be hired from Green Corridors
To find out about these and other things to do in the area – visit The Valley of a 1000 Hills Community Tourism Organisation website at https://www.1000hillstourism.co.za/
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