Have you heard? There is a well-kept secret in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) known as the Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve. Though it has been there for decades, it sees relatively few visitors. Only recently has it gained its deserved recognition. Especially with the lockdown restrictions, it has become one of the places locals enjoy visiting.
The scenic Oribi Gorge is an hour and 45 minutes from Durban and 30 minutes from Port Shepstone. This is KZN’s adventure province with a long list of activities that attracts people from different parts of the world. It boasts breathtaking cliffs, spectacular hiking trails and a host of picnic spots and is a few killometres from the beach. Caution, 48 hours is not enough for one to say they have fully explored the area. Plan your time wisely. When you get to Oribi your first stop should be the Lake Eland Game Reserve.
Lake Eland Game Reserve
The minute you set foot at Lake Eland Game Reserve where most of the activities occur, you know it’s going to be a great day. What immediately caught my attention was how seriously the team takes safety. After registration you get assigned a qualified trainer who will show you everything you need to know about each activity, and take you through it step by step with safety as a top priority throughout.
You can get a bird’s eye view of the Lehr’s Waterfall, the lovely lake by the campsite, the game, the magical landscape and Baboon’s Castle viewpoint. Oribi Gorge is packed with exhilarating experiences that are built to be enjoyed by everyone who is brave enough to try them out.
A great way to start your day is with a relaxing early morning game drive at Lake Eland Game Reserve. Alternatively, after all the exhilarating stuff you would have immersed yourself in, you would want to kick back and relax, while listening to Dan (one of the oldest guides in the reserve) narrating all the lovely stories about the animals and the reserve. Lake Eland is a place of peace and tranquility. It covers 2,500 hectares with diverse ecosystems of bushveld , grassland, coastal forest and wetlands. I prefer the morning game drives to afternoon game drives because you spot more animals earlier in the day. Which one will you be choosing.
The Oribi suspension bridge walk and cave
Once you get rid of your fears, you will find that the walk across the suspension bridge is a journey into spectacular scenery. Spanning 80 metres across the gorge and at a height of 130 metres, the suspension bridge offers amazing photo opportunities for those who appreciate spectacular landscapes. Most importantly, it offers a panoramic view of the gorge.
On the other side of the reserve you get to do a tour of different viewpoints where you get to see the beauty of the reserve. The views are breathtaking as the walk takes you down to a point where you get to see the river and the gorge in close proximity and get to appreciate all its beauty. What is most amazing about this walk is that it ends in a cave. This cave is said to have been previously occupied by San people and will be a perfect spot for history buffs.
I don’t know about you but a lot of people see zip lining as a relaxed option in comparison to the Wild Swing. Oribi Gorge Game Reserve is the thrill seeker’s paradise, with a 4.5 kilometre zip Line tour which soars across the magnificent Oribi Gorge. The tour consists of 14 zip line slides starting at the top of the Oribi Gorge down to the bottom. Once you have finished the ten minute induction, strapped into your full body harness in total comfort, you will then zip Line across the top of the gorge from Lehr’s Waterfall. The highlight for me is touching the water as you zip line over the river.
The Wild Swing and Abseiling
The Wild Gorge Swing – the world’s highest swing, is truly one for the brave-hearted, otherwise, you will have to sit this one out. Secured with a full body harness, from the top of the Lehr’s Waterfall you will leap off the edge and dive into the depths of this 165 meter gorge. This swing is equivalent to launching off a 55-storey building. On this Wild Swing you free fall over the edge of Lehr’s Waterfall, getting up to a speed of 120 kilometres per hour while soaring down into an arc that is 100 metres long. This activity really gets your heart racing. If you only do one activity this should be it.
If the swing sounds too scary, you may prefer to abseil down a 110 metre cliff next to the Lehr’s Waterfall to experience the best views of the gorge. Having said all that, do not underestimate it. It will also have your blood rushing and get you questioning your life decisions. It starts with a fun rocky part where you feel safe, then to the part where you are literally swinging and you only have yourself to depend on, and of course pray that the ropes are secured.
This is the latest addition to the offerings from Wild 5 Adventures, which operates in Oribi Gorge. At face value, this is the easiest of the lot, until you get on that bike and have to remember that you will need to always use your back brakes to avoid being shot out of your seat. You must have your mind stuck on that while dealing with the narrow and bumpy road down the river. Now tell me what is simple and easy about this adventurous ride? This one is comparable to the other activities, it has all the characteristics of a grand adventure.
White Water Rafting
Nothing beats the rush you get as you put your life jacket on to hit the water and brave rapids of different grades. White water rafting down the Umzimkhulu River will certainly get your blood pumping. Umzimkhulu River, whose source can be traced to the Drakensberg Mountains, is a powerful river that offers thrill seekers a variety of rafting adventures. This experience might take up to six hours. It boasts grade 2 to 4 rapids, offering an enjoyable activity by all, with no experience needed.
With all these exciting and perspective changing activities to choose from, you will not be disappointed and are sure to have the time of your life. Apart from what has been highlighted above, there are other fun activities like, kayaking, horse riding, hiking, a foefie slide, adventure trail and team building exercises to delve into. Therefore, let this be nothing but a guide to your fun in Oribi Gorge. I must say I have made two trips there and I still have not gotten to do all the activities, so I guess three will be a charm for me; then I can finally say I have conquered the Gorge.