The Midmar Dam Nature Reserve situated near the KwaZulu Natal Midlands towns of Howick and Pietermaritzburg, is fed by the Umgeni river, and incorporates the dam, various recreational activities, and a nature reserve. The Nature reserve covers an area of one thousand hectares, consisting mainly of open grasslands. The Midmar Dam reserve is home to a variety of wildlife which includes red hartebeest, black wildebeest, blesbok, reedbuck, oribi and zebra. A variety of smaller nocturnal mammals can also be seen in the reserve, and include Porcupine, White tailed Mongoose, Aardvark, Black-backed Jackal, Slender Mongoose and Serval.
The area is also a well known bird watching destination, which is home to long and impressive list of species which include
White-breasted Cormorant, Red-billed Teal, Spur winged Goose, Goliath Heron, and South African Shelduck. Grassland species include Black-winged and Crowned Lapwings, Denham's Bustard, the Red-winged Francolin, African Pipit, Long-tailed and Fan-tailed Widowbird, and Cape Longclaw. The KwaZulu Natal Midlands also allows for excellent opportunities to view a variety of Raptors, which include the Black-shouldered Kite, African Fish-Eagle, Black Sparrowhawk, Long-crested Eagle, and African Marsh Harrier.
Both the dam and the reserve are managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, which also offer accommodation at the dam in the form of various chalets, log cabins and a number of campsites. Visitors to the dam are provided with scenic campsites, and braai facilities situated along the tranquil shoreline. The dam is always a hive of activity, with many forms of watersports regularly undertaken, including windsurfing, canoeing, boating and fishing. Also at Midmar visitors can hire bicycles, windsurfers, canoes and yachts as well as launch tours and sunset cruises which can be booked by prior arrangement. Midmar Dam is also the location of the Heley Midmar Yacht Club, which hosts many Provincial and National Regatta's throughout the year.
Midmar Dam also host the annual Midmar Mile, which is the world's largest open water swimming competition. The race was first held in 1973, and hosted a field of one hundred and fifty three competitors, though the first female entries were only in 1975. The number of entries have increased significantly over the years approaching a total of twenty thousand swimmers, as well as competitors from abroad.
The Midmar Dam is renowned among the angling community for its excellent fishing and regular catches of carp, bass, scalies and bluegill are landed. Visitors wishing to fish at Midmar Dam need to have a freshwater fishing license which can be obtained at the office on the way in through the gates. Located near the office is also a curio shop which sells various souvenirs, and refreshments.
The dam is also conveniently situated in the middle of the Midlands Meander, which is an association of rural businesses selling curios, art, crafts, foodstuffs and furniture as well as providing restaurants and accommodation.
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