The River Valley Nature Reserve hugs a section of the iVungu River which meanders down through a valley of hills into the Indian Ocean at the well known Uvongo Beach, where one finds the iVungu falls (the onomatipoeic Zulu word for the reverberating roar of the falls). It is a small reminder of the once untouched natural coastline with it’s varied ecosystems consisting of grassland, riverine and coastal forest.
The Nature Reserve boasts a herd of impala and a herd of nyala. The shy bushbuck as well as the elusive blue duiker and the more common grey duiker are also present on the reserve. Smaller mammals such as porcupine, the large grey, banded and water mongooses as well as the cape clawless otter are evidenced by the presence of their tracks. They are sometimes spotted if you are at the right place at the right time. The lesser known tree hyrax and the more common rock hyrax can be seen too.
As many as 145 species of birds have been sighted in the iVungu area and these include the unusual sightings of the beautiful Narina Trogan, the majestic ever present African Crowned Eagle, the colourful Knysna and Purple Crested Turaco, the Green Malkoha (Coucal), the “Lord deliver me” Fiery necked and the Freckled Nightjar, the Blue-Mantled Crested Flycatcher and the Mountain (Long tailed) Wagtail. Early mornings and still days are the most productive times to satisfy any birders hunger for these diversely created feathered creatures.
One of the other attractions, if one enjoys the greener things of life, is the dense stretch of coastal-riverine forest that extends along the river. The easily recognisable spreading flatcrown (Albizia adianthifolia) is ever present as well as the Natal Strelitzia (Strelitzia nicolai) as well as numerous other tree species. This healthy forest is determined by the expansive, leaf-littered floor which contains numerous saplings and shrubs. A transition then occurs from coastal riverine forest to wooded thickets to open grassland. The wooded thickets are characterised by shorter, denser trees and rambling shrubs and the grasslands show off their spring flowers after their winter weariness.
All of this can be enjoyed by taking a leisurely stroll along our well marked walking trails with it’s varied habitats home to the many plants and animals that our Creator has created.
We are also home to many reptiles including the rock and water monitor lizards, which are frequently seen sunning themselves on the banks of the river or dams. Along with the legged reptiles are the non-legged “less desired” slithering snakes which can be seen if one really wants to!
The best time for frogs or toads to be seen is by the light of a torch at night after a summer rain, in puddles, pools, swamps or streams. They are easily recognisable by their calls. If you are up to frogging on an extremely good night one my be able to see up to 24 of the 101 species found in South Africa.
If one is interested in fish, eight of the fifty-seven indigenous freshwater fish occur in the river and dams, the green chested tilapia being the most common species. Large mouth bass have also been introduced into the dams and river.