Home KIDS Nature-inspired playground

Nature-inspired playground

We’ve just discovered an adventure ground that few know about… a magical, almost unexplored place that’s ideal for family outings.

Desperate to enjoy a fun, family day out, we started praying for the miserable weather to vanish. And when the right day arrived, we were armed and ready … towels, cozzies and tanning lotion. After loading up the kids, our beach canopy and a picnic, we headed for the hills – the Valley of 1000 Hills.

Easily being one of the province’s prettiest spots for an outing, we first heard about Mqueku Picnic Site on Facebook. It’s about a 20 minute drive from Hillcrest, along a very long and windy dirt road with views of beautiful, envirnomentally pristine, valleys below. It’s drivable in a sedan, but is especially fun – and less daunting – in a 4×4.

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The site is owned and managed by gregarious nature-lover and certified tour guide Sibusiso Shangase, with support from local eco-sustainability non-profit organisation Green Corridors. The venue offers fabulous birding opportunities (including sightings of the rare African Finfoot), river tubing and bum-sliding on a natural rock slide, 4×4 trails, nature hikes and picturesque picnic and braai sites. There’s a loo and water, and for those who want to make a full weekend of it, there are fully serviced pop-up camping options too.

There are open lawns with large, shady fig trees and distinctive fever trees that frame the meandering rivers punctuated with enormous granite rocks – perfect for soaking up the sun. The more adventurous can explore the river and natural water slide. There are also  places to leap off the boulders and into the water, little rapids, calm pools for swimming and the rock shape allows a natural slide to shoot down and into the water. Tubes, helmets and lifejackets can be hired for R50 each.

For those who prefer to savour nature in a more sedate way, scenic walking and hiking trails are available. Hikes are easy enough to follow unguided, or you can book a guided walk. If you prefer something less intense, you can take a slow stroll towards the old Mfula trading store, something of a landmark for Dusi canoe fans.

This is the perfect place to head off to if you’re looking for something to do over the weekends and definitely during the upcoming holidays… ideal too for corporate outings and enviro-themed functions and other small events.

Open every day from 8am to 5pm, there is a small charge to use the site (R100 a person, R50 for kids under12) which goes towards upkeep, and you do need to book ahead as it can get busy over weekends. The site, located where the uMngeni and Mqueku Rivers merge, is on Sibusiso’s family’s ancestral land. This allows him to talk to keen visitors personally and authentically about the diverse wildlife, vegetation and history of the area which is impressively peaceful, safe and litter-free.

Details: WhatsApp or call Sibusiso  on 084-823-1083.

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