This weekend my daughter and I had to drive to Scottburgh, 30 kilometers up the coast, to buy basic foodstuffs like sugar, flour and milk which are not available in our little town. This is no hardship, as we love traveling through the amazingly beautiful countryside, our heads swiveling from left to right to take in the scenery.

We missed the first turn-off (due to too much talking and head swiveling), which means that we had to approach the town from the opposite direction … which means that we lost our way. Again. “Just make a u-turn”, I said. My daughter ignored this (she rarely accepts this kind of back-seat driving instructions from me), and turned off into a quiet side street to execute a very smart three-point turn in a parking lot. To our delight, we spotted this version of the South African flag painted on a dead tree trunk.


As we turned onto Route 102 leading to the shopping mall, we spotted a lovely green strip of land just beside the road, which we knew to be the T C Robertson Nature Reserve, but have never visited before. On the spur of the moment, we decided to put off the shopping for another hour.

We discovered a gem in the form of 60 hectares of forest, coastal grasslands and wetlands on the banks of the Mpanbanyoni floodplain. We learned that Mpanbanyoni means “the gathering place of birds” and that there are more than 200 bird species in the reserve. We were told that we could expect to see lots of weavers, sandpipers, black sparrowhawks and, if we were lucky, an African fish eagle. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay above an hour, but we did manage to spot egrets and Egyptian geese in the water, as well as a few butterflies fluttering around in a garden created for them. We went for a short walk and discovered a resting area with barbecue and picnic facilities, and immediately decided that we will come back for a proper visit on another day.

“Now you see, Mother”, says my wise daughter, somewhat sarcastically, “good things happen to those who avoid sudden u-turns”.

Natuurlik het ons effens laat aangekom by die winkel en die helfte van die goed wat ons moes gekoop het, het nie by die huis aangeland nie, want my liewe dogter het alweer die lysie met kruideniersware op die kombuistafel gelos. Dis wat gebeur as haar ma nie ‘n u-turn maak in die kombuis om selfone en lysies in die handsak in te prop voordat ons ry nie. Iemand gaan bitter koffie drink hierdie week en ek wil sien hoe wikkel sy haarself uit daardie situasie sonder ‘n u-turn.

Dalk moet ons meer kere so ‘n bietjie verdwaal en sukkel om op die regte roete te kom, want daar is werklik baie mooi natuurreservate en teetuine wat ons nog nie besoek het nie. KwaZulu-Natal bly nog steeds vir ons ‘n heerlike ontdekkingsreis, hoewel ons baie selde ver weg van die N2 af dwaal en nog geneig is om op ‘n lekker sonnige dag net oor die treinspoor te hardloop, reguit strand toe. Ons is nog steeds maar net binnelanders by die see.