It might not be the best time of year for a swim in the dam, so here are some ideas of things you can do at Midmar this autumn and winter from Andrea Abbott.
Midmar Dam and Nature Reserve in the KZN Midlands is famous for the Midmar Mile that takes place every February and is said to be the world’s largest open water swimming event. That signature event along with sailing, boating, water-skiing, windsurfing, canoeing, as well as fishing make Midmar a prime water sport destination that pulsates at weekends and during holidays.
Mid-week at Midmar
If crowds and energetic recreation are not your scene, and you’d rather not jostle for space at the braai stand, consider a mid-week trip to Midmar in mid-autumn, arguably the best season to be in KwaZulu-Natal. You’ll find azure skies and a blue dam as still as a mill pond; trees dressing up (or is it down?) for autumn, emerald lawns at the water’s edge where you could spread out a picnic blanket and spend hours basking in the tranquility that belies the busy N3 highway on the other side of the spillway.
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Take the Scenic Route
If you need a little action, roads and paths make for easy cycling and walking, or you could drive the loop around the nature reserve on the southern banks of the dam. Here expansive grasslands support mammals like Red hartebeest, Black wildebeest, oribi and zebra. Midmar is also a favourite birding destination. Those in the know say to look out for Black-rumped Buttonquail, Short-tailed Pipit, Cuckoo Finch, Denhams Bustard, Red Winged Francolin and African Fish-Eagle. There is an abundance of water birds and if you’re lucky, you could spot Ground woodpeckers. Stay over and you have a chance of seeing, or at least hearing, Marsh owls and African grass-owls. If flowers are your thing, return in spring and summer to see the special wild flora that light up those grasslands.
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Where to Stay
Opened in 1965 – construction began in 1961 – Midmar Dam has a surface area of nearly 1800 ha while the total Midmar Resort is 2857 ha. The dam is on the uMgeni River that rises in Dargle within the uMgeni Vlei, a protected area and a declared Ramsar Site whose permanent wetland is recognised as one of international importance. The dam is the third largest on the Mooi/Mgeni systems (Albert Falls downstream of Midmar is the largest, and Inanda Dam near Hillcrest second).
Operated by KZN Wildlife, the resort offers picnic sites, camping and caravanning sites – some with plug points – and modest self-catering chalets sited close to the water’s edge. A restaurant – Midmar View Restaurant – is open for breakfast and lunch, offering light meals like lasagna, curry, burgers and wraps.
Entrance is R40 per adult and R20 per child for SA residents and SADC nationals unless you have a Rhino or Wild Card and then there is no charge.
+27 (0) 33 330 2067/8/9; [email protected]
Words and Photography Andrea Abbott