Written by: Anna da Graça
I recently took a trip out into the Umgeni River Valley. Now I have had the privilege of seeing a lot of the undiscovered natural beauty of this area in my role as the marketing manager at Durban Green Corridor and I thought I had already seen the best of what was on offer. But I was wrong, very wrong. I was also a little spooked at the discovery of the newly named ‘Tokoloshe Valley’!
I started out at Maphephetheni which lies on the majestic Inanda Dam. The dam is an impressive backdrop and the birdlife tempts you to pull out the binos with all the twitterings of communication going on. You get just the occasional reminder that human life goes on with the smell of a wood fire or a passer-by on a bicycle. The potential for hiking in this area is incredible as I was surrounded on one side by enticing hillside just yearning to be climbed, but my trip was to take me much further into the valley.
I took a drive along the road west from the dam with the Valley of a Thousand Hills as my ultimate destination. But sometimes the journey can prove far more rewarding than the finish line! The road hugs the Umgeni River at a low level for some time before starting to climb… and climb it certainly does! Before I knew it I had an impressive drop to one side of the vehicle and the road had winding up and up through a million shades of green!
I stopped on a very precarious bend and my guide pointed out a house with its own vegetable garden which was booming, totally unprotected by fencing. I was amazed at all the fresh produce that was completely unattended. My guide informed me that it is believed by locals that this place houses a ‘Tokoloshe’ which, for those that are not aware, in Zulu mythology is a mischievous and evil spirit that becomes visible only by drinking water and which is called upon by malevolent people to cause trouble for others. Fascinated, yet a little freaked out, we made our quick escape along the never ending green road.
It was an extremely inspirational day out for me. The fresh air, feast for the eyes, and all these new discoveries. There is just so much out there to see and enjoy in this beautiful, dramatic green valley and I challenge any visitor to Durban to take a Saturday or Sunday away from the beach and explore the Umgeni River Valley. Drinking water is definitely recommended for the trip but maybe give it a miss at the house on the corner with the perfect looking veggies or you may see more than you bargained for!