In the heart of the balmy east coast city of Durban, South Africa, is a verdant retreat from the commotion of the city centre, the exquisite Pigeon Valley Park. This has been proclaimed a Natural Heritage Park and a municipal nature reserve, thanks to its natural diversity and its aesthetic loveliness, all within an otherwise urban setting.
Pigeon Valley Park was originally set up in an effort to provide a safe habitat for coastal forest trees, particularly (but not exclusively) the Natal elm and the Natal loquat. The slopes that benefit from their south-facing orientation are covered in canopy forest, while those facing the north are bedecked in thorny brush. This unique positioning, therefore, gives the park so much natural value and lends it an extraordinary biodiversity.
Because it is so diverse, the 11 hectare extent of Pigeon Valley Park is the home of choice to a number of bird species, including rather rare finds. Avid bird watchers love to visit the park and look out for some of the more than 150 recorded species in the area. These include the Narina trogon, spotted thrush, Cape white-eye, African paradise flycatcher, European nightjar, black-throated wattle-eye, buffspotted flufftail and the green twinspot. The spotted ground-thrush is an endangered species that can regularly be found here during the cooler winter months (June to August). Of course, birds are not the only wildlife to make this their home. Visitors should keep an eye out for the red and blue duikers, banded mongooses and water mongooses.
There is a walking or running trail called the Natal Elm Trail, which takes visitors around the reserve. The trail is only some 400 metres long, but promises gorgeous views and plenty of photo-perfect moments. The picnic area and public toilets make this the ideal spot at which to enjoy a day with friends and family during your time in KwaZulu-Natal.