South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal)
Lake Phobane (previously known as Goedertrouw Dam) is reached via the NkwaliniValley between Eshowe and Melmoth, a region which was once the heart of King Shaka’s Kingdom.
The dam is set in the Umhlatuze Valley with the Mabelebele Mountains offering a spectacular backdrop. It was completed on the uMhlatuze River in 1980 to provide an assured water supply to the developing port and industrial complex at Richards Bay. It is about 14 kms in length and has a massive capacity of 300 million cubic meters (10.6 billion cubic feet).
Lake Phobane is the second biggest dam in KwaZulu Natal and is fed by seven rivers, four of which are perennial. At the time of its construction it held the title of the largest earth-walled dam in the southern hemisphere.
The habitats along the dam vary from dry acacia scrub to tall mixed woodland, riverine forest patches and mountainous areas with cliffs up to 100m high dropping into the water. The dam itself is mainly open water with a few areas of quiet backwaters with plenty of overhanging vegetation. Where the rivers feed into the dam, shallow rocky areas have formed.
It is a renowned birding spot, and a popular fresh water fishing site. As many as 24 different species of fish have been identified in the lake, which boasts large numbers of Largemouth Bass, Barbel and Tilapia.
The southern shores of the dam are controlled by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife as the Umhlatuze Community Conservation Area. A variety of animals have been reintroduced here including Giraffe, Waterbuck, Kudu and Impala. Leopard have also been seen.
Boats may be launched, however, it is advisable not to leave your vehicle/picnic site unattended and there are no toilet facilities.
Location (28o52′ 16.1″ S, 31o 26′ 42.8″ E)
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iPhiva Bush Lodge, tucked away on the 380 hectares Umhlatuze Community Conservation Area, offers 5 unique floating chalets moored in tranquil coves for complete privacy. These two bedroom chalets have a shower and toilet and an open plan kitchen and lounge area. Each has its own motorized skiff on which guests can cruise around the dam or just lazily observe the magnificent bird life. All accommodation is self-catering. Meals are available on request. There also are 8 thatched two-bedroom chalets on land and 14 safari tents set in riparian forest on the edge of the dam. Birding is unrivaled with Peregrine and European hobby falcon, horus and palm swift, black cuckooshrike, yellow-breasted apalis, chinspot batis and three-streaked tchagra, and on and on and on…
Overnight accommodation in Stewarts Farm / Kwabekithunga Zulu Village is available in 24 traditional Zulu ‘beehive’ huts, fitted with electricity, en suite showers and toilets. Catering, licensed bar and swimming pool facilities complement the relaxed and informal environment. The area has a prolific bird life. By nature, the Zulus are polite and sharing people, and here Chief Thomas and his family invite you to their home.
Nestled in the scenic and fertile Nkwalini Valley (Valley of the Virgin Warrior), on the R34 between Empangeni and Eshowe, Mfuli Game Ranch is home to a variety of game including Zebra, Nyala and Duiker, as well as Ostrich and a Crocodile farm. Accommodation includes six en-suite bedrooms, four self catering cabins (each sleeping six) and a fully furnished, self catering house with 2 bathrooms and its own lounge and kitchen. The a la carte restaurant & bar serve local delicacies.