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Lotheni Nature Reserve

The Lotheni Nature Reserve is situated within a remote section of the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park and is noted for its magnificent scenery and beautiful camp. Visitors to the area are provided with many scenic walking trails, which are suitable all ages. The Emadundwini Trail is a circular route covering 11.8km, crossing a number of small streams and traveling up a steep incline. This trail is highly recommended as it allows for spectacular views of the Drakensberg. Other trails in the Lotheni Nature Reserve include the Eagle, Falls, Canyon, Jacobs Ladder and the historically interesting Gelib Tree Trail.

The Gelib tree stands in the reserve as a reminder of an incident which occurred during the second world war, near the Ethiopian settlement of Gelib. An officer of the 1st Royal Natal Carbineers named Captain Charles Eustice, who fought in what was then Italian Somaliland, collected a few seeds of an Acacia tree. The seed was planted by Eustice many years later on his farm which became part of the Lotheni Nature Reserve. The seed was planted in memory of thirteen carbineers who were ambushed during the campaign to capture Gelib, which was held by Italian forces at the time.

Wildlife to be seen in the park includes such species as common and mountain reedbuck, grey rhebuck, eland, grey duiker and oribi. There is a diversity of birds, which includes black storks, black eagles, bearded vultures, lanner falcons, Cape vultures and giant kingfishers, to name but a few. Birdwatching in the area is also a popular activity amongst visitors, with a bird list of 172 species. A Mountain biking trail is also featured in the reserve. Approximately 14km long and rated as moderate in difficulty, the trail travels past the historical Gelib Tree site and returns along the tarred road. On a good warm day it's essential to stop for a swim at the magnificent Cool Pools. Trout fishing at Lotheni has also gained much popularity, with 16kms of the Lotheni river stocked with brown trout, and available for fly fishermen to test their skill. Although somewhat chilly, swimming in the Lotheni River is safe unless it is in flood , and there is a very good swimming spot approximately 1km below the camp.

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