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Howick, Midlands Meander Howick falls KwaZulu Natal
Howick lies in the Natal Midlands on the Midlands Meander and its main attraction is the Howick Falls. The Howick falls are easily accessible for everyone. The falls fall some 90 m and the view from the top is definitely impressive. For those of you a bit more energetic Howick offers some worthwhile short trails. The town offers a good selection of antiques, arts and crafts.
Hikes and Trails in Howick
Gorge Walk: Start this interesting walk through the thick undergrowth on the stone steps from the Gorge Walk sign at the bottom of Harvard Street and wind your way down to the pool, at the bottom of the Howick Falls. You will meet up with the trickling Karkloof Spruit and see it meet the Umgeni River on your way to the base of the Falls. The walk there and back takes a leisurely hour or two, returning along the same path to the start. Trail guides can be arranged! Umgeni River Trail Try this one out in dry weather only - it starts at the Scout Hall (off Plane Crescent - in the Greendale Park area of Howick) and winds along the Umgeni River past the Mills Falls area, to just beyond the Umgeni Gardens Flats in Oakleigh Drive where the trail ends. This one will take you roughly an hour.
Beacon Hill Trail: This walk starts from the clearing at the end of Lakeview Road (near the Currys Post road turn-off) and turns right, past the reservoir, going up Beacon Hill - and over the top. Thereafter it follows the timber-line to the left, around the perimeter of the hill returning to the clearing at the start. The walk will take you about an hour - but pausing to take in the great view might draw things out a bit.
The area around Howick Falls was first settled by a retired Wesleyan missionary, John Archbell. In 1850, it was named Howick by Earl Grey, the then Secretary of State for the Colonies, after his estate in Northumberland. The original ford across the Umgeni River which flows through Howick, was at Alleman’s Drift, just below the present Midmar Dam wall, but by 1850 it had been moved to the more convenient site just above the falls. At most of the important fording places, blacksmiths, traders and innkeepers established businesses to supply travelers. The first inhabitant of Howick was a hotelier who also provided a ferry service. His young son was swept over the falls during a flood. A pile of stones marks his grave on the banks of the pool at the foot of the waterfall. There are several other waterfalls in the vicinity. Today Howick is a bustling town supporting a number of thriving commercial, industrial and agricultural undertakings. Yet despite it’s burgeoning business portfoliom modern shopping and recreational facilities and increasingly popular residential areas, Howick retains it’s original country character and hospitality.
How to get there - Estcourt 60 km, Mooirivier 40 km, Pietermaritzburg 25 km
Altitude - 1050 m above sea level
ATM’s – 3
Average Rainfall – 1044 mm per annum
Average Temperatures – 28,8°c
Banks – Absa, Fnb, Standard
Dams – Midmar
Rivers – Mgeni
Waterfalls – Cascade Falls (25 m), Shelter Falls 937 m), Karkloof Falls (105 m) 16 km
A fine stone house built in 1855 as a doctor’s residence and hospital, it is today an a la carte restaurant.
Howick Falls Hotel
Built in 1850 and boasting VIP visitors such as Mark Twain, Paul Kruger, Cecil John Rhodes and Bishop Colenso.
Next to the arts and crafts centre. A fascinating look at the history of the Lions River district and Old Howick
Built by the townspeople immediately after the Battle of Isandlwana in 1879 as protection against a possible Zulu attack.
Library - Built in 1897
Opposite the Umgeni Institute in Main Road. The Institute served as a military hospital and a concentration camp during the Anglo Boer War (1899 – 1902). There are 64 British and 84 Boer graves in the cemetery.
St Luke’s Church
One of the historical sites included on the Midlands Meander, dating back to 1869. It was the first place of worship built in Howick.
A spectacular sight in the summer rainy season, and a special attraction for tourists visiting the ‘Heart of Waterfall Country’. The falls plunge 100 m over dolerite cliffts into the gorge. Nature’s wonder can be seen from a viewing platform opened in 1993. the falls and the surrounding area were proclaimed a National Monument in 1951 as protection against development.
One of the giant waterways of Kwazulu Natal. As it powers it’s way to the coast from the foothills of the Drakensberg, it pools it’s recources in four immense dams and pours itself over precipives and through valleys gouged out over millions of years. It descends hundreds of metres. One of the Mgeni’s most dramatic drops to sea level is a compulsory stop on the Midlands Meander. At the heart of Howick, plunging almost 100 m to the gorge below, are the famous Howick Falls. Known to the Zulu as ‘KwaNogpaza’ (‘the place of the tall one’), the falls and surrounding 32 ha were proclaimed a National Monument in 1951.
Midmar Lake & Resort
Above the Howick Falls, the Umgeni River was dammed in 1964 to provide an excellent inland water sport centre, Midmar Lake, which has a shoreline of 60 km. The 2831 ha resort is 24 km from Pietermaritzburg on the N3 highway, and is surrounded by the Inhluzana hills. In keeping with the elegant setting, the lawns are manicured, yachts bob in the water, and tea is served in the restaurant. This pleasant resort is open 24 hours a day, throughout the year. From KZNNCS vehicles or boats one can view rhino, springbok, wildebeest, zebra, eland, blesbok, impala and waterfowl. The resort has much to offer sport enthusiasts, including tennis, bowls and squash. There is a swimming pool, a children’s playground, camping and caravan facilities. Fishermen are also catered for and bass and carp are found in the Umgeni River. Pony rides can be booked.
Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve
Situated in the Umgeni Valley below the Howick Falls. Supports a wide variety of animal and plant life. Owned and managed by the Wildlife Society of Southern Africa, the reserve specializes in nature conservation education, and thousands of school children attend it’s courses each year. The facilities are open to the general public when not being used for educational purposes. For the nature lover who wants anything from a few hours walking to a weekend in a fully equipped rustic cottage, it’s an easily accessed and rewarding bushveld experience. The reserve winds along 7 km of the Umgeni River from the base of the Howick Falls, and contains an abundance of flora and fauna, and over 80 bird species. These can be viewed on foot from a variety of trails or along a leisurely 6 km drive along the rim of the valley. It loops back at a viewsite facing Otto’s Bluff and Albert Falls. The entrance gate to the reserve is about 1 km from Howick on the Karkloof road.
The old Agricultural Hall near the Falls has been turned into what must be the largest and best stocked curio and craft centre in the country.
Arts & Crafts
If you are an inveterate browser or curio shopper, there are numerous outlets in and around the town. The Old Agricultural Hall, built in 1898 and beautifully restored in 1990, houses one of the largest and best stocked curio and craft outlets in the country, while the Howick Falls Craft Boma, opposite the viewing platform, offers a range of stalls with genuine African crafted buys.
Craft Southern Africa
African handwork from within and beyond South Africa’s borders clamours for visitors attention.
Howick Falls / Gorge Trail
From the Howick Falls the trail proceeds down into the gorge and follows the Karkloof Spruit until it meets the Umgeni River, after which it continues to the base of the Howick Falls, returning along the same path to the start, approximately two hours.
Beacon Hill / Umgeni River Trail
One hour. Winds along the Umgeni River past the Mills Falls area to just beyond the Umgeni River Garden. Flats where the trail ends in Oakleigh Drive. Horse Riding, Power Boating, Water Skiing, Windsurfhing, Yachting.
WHERE TO STAY
McMuddle’s On The Hill (Howick B&B)