Nahoon Nature Reserve: An Urban Gem
East London - South Africa, The various Nature Reserves on the Nahoon River!.
Sometimes we become so used to the places close to home that we forget how great they are. East London, situated on the South East Coast of Africa has its own magic. The Nahoon Nature reserves deserves regular visits.
Swimming costume, goggles and snorkel, camera and binoculars are recommended on a visit to this beautiful river that flows into the Indian Ocean. A mere three kilometres from where we live in Vincent, lies the river mouth with its estuary and nearby white beach. A well designed broad walk on the East London side overlooks the famous Nahoon Reef surfing spot. On the other side of the river is the Dassie Trail along the banks of the river passing through and the most Southern Mangroves in South Africa.
There are three rivers that flow into the Indian Ocean in the City of East London, the Buffalo, the Bonza Bay and the Nahoon. Another, the Gonubie, about 15km to the N/E of East London enters the Indian Ocean in the satellite town named after it. The largest river is the Buffalo that provides East London with the only river port in South Africa. The closest to our house is however the Nahoon with its two nature reserves.
The weather is mild in this sub-tropical part of the country and rain comes in the form of cold fronts moving over the country from the S/E Oceans. Preceding these fronts is often a “berg” (mountain) wind that comes down the escarpment bringing warm winter weather to the coast, as the air is heated adiabatically from the decent down the escarpment. So the temperature in East London vary from 15 to 30 degrees Celsius, according to the season.
The Nahoon Nature Reserve seldom disappoints. Near the car park and environmental offices there is a two- level bird hide, and here a variety of local seed eaters can be observed in comfort. Often bird parties arrive in the trees around the Enviro-centre with Fork-tailed Drongoes, a variety of Weavers, Bronze-mannikins, a pair of Black-collared Barbets and some Cape White-eyes competing for an evening meal.
An Amethyst Sunbird is often looking for nectar in the Aloes around the Eco-centre, while a variety of birds call from nearby bushes, but often remained elusive. Small Blue Duiker often come to drink at the water fountain and even enjoy a snack of seed. Flocks of Red-necked Spurfowl or Helmeted Guinea Fowl arrive in noisy flocks and clean out the seed feeders on the ground. This is one of the best places in South Africa to see the elusive Buff-spotted Flufftail.
A walk to the river under the cliffs and next to the most southern Mangrove Forrest in South Africa provides views of Hadeda and African Sacred Ibis, Black-smith Lapwing, Little and Greater Egret, Black-headed Heron, White-breasted Cormorant, Pied Kingfisher, Kelp Gull and Little Tern. The beautiful but secretive Knysna Turaco often calls from the Forrest under the cliffs. Here a detour can be made through the coastal forest with its own group of forest birds.
Sometimes one can see a troop of Vervet Monkeys who live in this area and forage for food in the trees. An African Fish Eagle and a pair or Crowned Eagles control the skies in search of their particular food preferences and an occasional tern of gull flies lazily over the water looking for a shoal of small fish. In the evening the sun sets up the river and in the morning rises over the river mouth and the Indian Ocean lighting up the white sand and blue water.
From the Nahoon Point Nature Reserve with its amazing boardwalk visitors are presented with a great view of the Indian Ocean. The museum here highlights the history of the coastal area and is well worth a visit. Here from the board walk we often spot Dolphins surfing the waves at the famous surfing spot at Nahoon Point, or Whales spouting further off shore. Next to the Sandstone Caves is a secluded beach overlooking Mermaid's Pool where our children and grandchildren experienced their first snorkelling adventures in its enclosed waters.
The 800m Nahoon Beach is a really pleasant place for an evening walk and some shell collecting. A swim in the Nahoon River is strongly recommended in the water that is usually about 20-22 degrees centigrade.
Sometimes we want to travel to exotic places while forgetting that right here at home there are treasures to be enjoyed.