A special Father’s Day Adventure Walk will be hosted by experienced nature guide Thulas Luthuli at his Green Corridors’ Mgababa Adventures site at the Mnini Dam this Sunday, 19 June from 8am to 11am.
This 4km Adventure Hike along a rocky river trail which feeds into the Mnini Dam, together with Thulas (whose homestead is in this area) and expert botanist Sithembiso Blessing Majoka promises a delightful mix of fascinating insights into the fauna and flora, and the rich cultural history of the area.
Sithembiso Blessing Majoka who will share his extensive knowledge of the indigenous plants of the area, gained much of his knowledge working for South African National Biodiversity Institute encoding plant specimens and then went on to become a Field Ranger for the EThekwini Municipality. He is not only passionate about the environment, specifically indigenous plant identification and bird conservation, but he is also an incredible wildlife photographer.
His amazing work with bird conservation also won him the 2021 BirdLife South Africa Owl award which recognizes the valuable contributions that people make to the conservtion of South Africa's birds and their habitats.
Don't miss out on this fantastic opportunity to walk alongside Sithembiso as he unfolds the story of Mgababa Adventures' rich landscape, which was voted by SDA Adventures as their favourite rocky river trail, Mgababa Adventures is an untouched treasure for hikers.
The hike costs R200 per person and there are limited places. The Mnini Dam site is an easy 30 minutes from Durban’s CBD.
Green Corridors also has a number of other sites to visit on Father’s Day – check out the website on https://durbangreencorridor.co.za/
Green Corridors, the Durban-based NPO which co-creates open green spaces within the City for people in communities to live, work and thrive, calls on citizens to use World Water Day, (22 March) as a time to evaluate their relationship with water.
World Water Day, which takes place during South Africa’s National Water Week (15-22 March), is an annual United Nations Observance that focuses on the importance of fresh water in the world, using the theme “valuing water” in 2021.
According to the Worldwater.org website, “while celebrating the life-giving force of water, the day is also used to raise awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water.”
Green Corridors clean-up teams and nature guides, working within communities around Durban, see the ongoing devastation of waterways and environmentally important spaces through both alien invasive plants and the irresponsible disposal of litter that ends up in waterways impacting on water health, as well as surrounding community spaces – its people, plants and animals.
“Many people, including businesses, don’t understand that water from our stormwater drains flows directly into our waterways, and so they often discard their litter and waste in gutters or even down stormwater drains” explains Susan Dlamini, from Green Corridors. “All of this flows into our rivers and the sea, with a huge impact on water quality. If we could just start at being mindful of how we get rid of our litter and waste, it would help so much towards alleviating this.”
“We urge everyone to think about how we as human beings contribute to the health, distribution of- and access to our water,” says Susan. “We encourage people to join the World Water Day conversation on social media, which will help effect some change whether through policy or infrastructure or behaviour, working towards the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 of water and sanitation for all by 2030.”
The World Water Day campaign asks global citizens to discuss how they value water, "(as this) determines how water is managed and shared. The value of water is much more than its price – water has enormous and complex value for our households, culture, health, education, economics, and the integrity of our natural environment. If we overlook any of these values, we risk mismanaging this finite, irreplaceable resource.”
For example, the Green Corridors' footprint across the City includes tourism sites near important water sources where local trained and registered tour guides rely on the health of the water for their and the communities' livelihoods and well-being.
The various Green Corridors Green Spaces teams along with partners such as Adopt-a-River, WESSA, with funders such as RMB, SAPRIPOL and PETCO, and others, such as conservancies, and eThekwini Municipality Cleansing and Solid Waste, Parks Department and Sihlanzimvelo co-ops, focus on environmental hotspots, where clean-up teams remove alien vegetation as well as litter from waterways and their surrounds in their attempts to improve the health of the water. This waste is then channelled to recycling and repurposing projects such as the Green Corridors KwaMashu Materials Beneficiation Centre which is working towards creating products from plastic waste.
“We would love to hear our local voices in this conversation about water and how we can improve water quality and access, so would encourage educators, policy-makers and government officials, civil society, NGO’s and others to join in,” says Susan.
Follow Green Corridors on social media or World Water Day, and tag your post with #water2me and #WorldWaterDay.
As nature-lovers get ready to celebrate World Ocean Day on Wednesday 8 June, Green Corridors, the Durban-based NPO that looks after green spaces in the City, employing a team of ecotourism and nature guides, clean-up co-ordinators, agroecologists, and recycling experts, call on citizens to be mindful, that the ocean is one of the City’s (and the world’s) most important resources. And have a collective responsibility to safe-guard it for the future of the planet and future generations.
To mark World Ocean Day, Green Corridors is joining forces with The Zero Waste Foundation, Pick ‘n Pay, WildTrust and Youth 4 Mpas on Saturday, 11 June from 8am to 10am at Blue Lagoon Beach for a Beach Clean-up.
“The Day aims to “propel action throughout the year to protect our blue planet”, explains Musa Shange, Green Corridors Coastal and Waste Management Projects Officer. “We are working at the coal face of humans and the natural world, and it is devastating to see the impact we humans are having on the oceans. So we invite Durban Citizens to come join us to make a difference, and to get a true understanding of what is happening to our oceans.”
In the aftermath of the KwaZulu-Natal floods in April, Green Corridors supported by Petco and Safripol galvanized support for a number of beach clean-ups. The Green Corridors team cleared an incredible 2 tons of HDPE (High Density Poly Ethylene – the hard plastic such as milk/shampoo bottles), 100 bulk bags of polystyrene, 4 bulk bags of shoes and 61 bulk bags of mixed waste that went to the landfill.
Later they moved to the devastated Quarry Road site on the Palmiet River, west of Durban, and cleared 630kg of PET, 6 tons of Invasive Alien Plants, 1460 kg of HDPE amongst other waste, preventing it from further reaching the ocean. This is waste that flowed through the urban waterways including via storm water drains into streams and rivers and finally ended up in the ocean.
‘The devastation of beaches and ocean through the deluge of waste coming down the waterways, is a sure sign that people are not aware of the impact they are having on the oceans,” says Siphiwe Rakgabale, of Tri-Eco Tours and Green Corridors Litterboom Co-ordinator. “More needs to be done to educate people and industries about waste – how it can be reduced or reused as a valuable commodity.”
For 2022, according to the official website, “World Ocean Day is raising awareness and support for the global movement to protect at least 30% of the world’s lands, waters, and ocean by 2030 (30×30). Safeguarding at least 30% through a network of highly protected areas can help ensure a healthy ocean and climate.”
“If we can work together with citizens, businesses, organisations and communities of Durban from all walks of life, with an aim to improve our disposal of solid and liquid waste in more appropriate ways, and increase our waste recycling and ultimately decrease our generation of waste, this will be an important contribution to the health of the blue planet, and our beautiful city,” says Rakgabale.
Anyone interested in supporting the Green Corridors clean-up can meet at Blue Lagoon on Saturday 11 June at 8am – bring gloves, water and sunscreen.
Pop Up Camps are a new wild camping accommodation concept for exploring some of Durban’s wildest areas in accommodation under a million stars, away from the crowds. Hilary McLernan had the pleasure. Mqeku Camp is the idyllic, very happy ending to a fun tale, which is filled with twists and turns, colourful characters and captivating scenarios.
After turning off Old Main Road in Botha's Hill there is only one junction, where you take a left, and then continue over wondrous passes and through colourful communities to the very end of this ultra-scenic road. Only Shanks’s pony can take you further.
Just like that pot at the end of the rainbow, Mqeku Camp is a treasure, so worth discovering and exploring. Sibusiso Shangase welcomes you to a beautifully kept, cleverly laid-out arrangement of level, lawned camping sites, each with a stone braai facility, all interspersed by giant granite boulders, next to the magical Mqeku River.
Susan and Nompilo of Green Corridors are in the hospitality tent with drinks and platters of fresh fruits and cheeses. Even though there are canvas chairs set out, everyone is drawn to the river and we sprawl across the granite boulders that are so huge one could only refer to them as slopes, imbibing the sights and sounds.
Everything is authentically natural and we quickly feel very at home.
It is hot and sunny, the tubes and safety gear are all lined up on the rocks, ready for those who want to go tubing. There is a deep, calm wallowing pool above the first rapid, which lures in the lazy ones.
The Mqeku has its source in the surrounding mountains and the water is clear and clean enough to drink. Susan and Nompilo spoil us further with hot cheese & onion toasted sandwiches, chicken and cheese salads, juices and coffee.
The camp itself is so comforting but also so stimulating with fantastic birdlife, ponds of aquatic life, sedges, grasses and trees, that we have to be enticed to go walking. Thulas, our knowledgeable guide leads us off and up, up, up into the scarp-forested hill behind the camp and Sibusiso follows at the back.
The beauty of this forest is that is really is pristine. Whoever has walked it, has had the respect to maintain single-file. The path is steep but wow the prize at the top is awesome. We get to see the layers of hills, the different vegetation zones and right down at the feet of the hills slithers the mighty Umgeni River, well-known for its Dusi-Canoe marathon challenge, brown and murky from all the illegal sand-mining.
It is summer and we have had good rains so the Mqeku is healthily pumping and we have to cross it a couple of times so hiking boots and shorts are probably the answer for comfort and safety. All in all, it was about a two-and-a-half-hour walk, lead by our humorous, very motivated guide, Thulas, who has excellent people skills.
Everyone has settled into their very comfortable tents, which even a tall person could stand up in, beds are turned back ready to collapse into and it’s twilight; that happy hour time when the transition from day to night makes everyone excited and we gather for an evening drink.
Lots of happy chatter and as we watch the light fade and the colours change, a most exciting crepuscular treat clambers onto the granite boulder directly opposite us. It is the elusive African Finfoot. He belongs to an ancient group of birds, Gruiformes, with a rich fossil history. Bright orange legs with large conspicuously lobed toes, he is the bird known for “walking/running on water”.
There are ponds and wetland areas within the camp and unbeknown to us there is a hive of activity has been getting going within and around them. From a single high-pitched peep, within minutes the entire froggie-chorus creates a complete cacophony; from belching oboes to sweet tinkling triangles. We take our torches out and it is nothing short of fantastic to see the number of frogs and the diversity.
So, between the frogs and the rushing river, we battle to hear one another but that’s fine because our mouths are otherwise occupied; more delicious food from the bush kitchen; vegetarian and meat kebabs, salads and hot pasta.
It is exciting to go to bed when you just know that you’re not going to need a lullaby or any other sleep inducer. There is another strong factor of utter mental unwinding; there is no cell phone reception whatsoever and that is a complete treat. One of the few remaining areas of this “health retreat” perk.
Early coffee with the bird morning chorus and a pre-breakfast walk, but this time a far more sedate kind-of amble.
Another very knowledgeable guide, Joe, joins us. We backtrack along the road, which brought us into Mqeku, which runs parallel to the Umgeni River. Joe, Thulas and Sibusiso seem to take turns in stopping us to give us various forms of fascination, from birds, to arthropods, trees and associated cultural uses and stories.
Sibusiso Shangase, our host, carries the same surname as the local chief. He has lived there most of his life and is very proud of his achievement. He tells marvellous stories about the history and the general customary ways of the people.
Life in this valley is completely authentic and I don’t think has changed much at all of the generations. The only conspicuous change is how many people have left their area, seeking the life-style of urbanization. As we walk along the road the local people greet us as they get on with their simple lives.
Sibusiso points out the large clumps of water hyacinth floating on the Umgeni River; some are green and some have been poisoned and are brown. Water hyacinth is a highly invasive alien plant, originally introduced from the Amazon basin, which clogs up water bodies very quickly. It not only dominates over and kills indigenous plant species but also depletes the oxygen level in the water, which is necessary to sustain all aquatic life.
Joe tells us about one of the strands of the massive interconnected web of interventions Green Corridor has created. Green Corridor to uplift communities in conjunction with their local environments. There is a recycling project where pavers are created in a clever combining of water-hyacinth, Spanish-reed (another invasive alien) and plastic. The fibers from the plants reinforce the molten plastic.
At the end of the road, just before it bridges the Umgeni River, is Mfula store, which used to be a thriving bustle and a pumping throng on weekends. Again, due to the mass desertion of the area, the store is quiet but imperative to the locals. The storekeeper has a lot of mango trees and he makes and sells bottled green-mango atchar; one of the helpful introduced species and practices.
Our stomach enzymes affect our pace and soon we are back with the wonderful Susan and Nompilo and their wonderful food; scrambled eggs and bacon and hot crumpets with syrup and a hot cup of coffee.
We only had the one night in Sibusiso’s magical Mqeku Camp, but it felt as if we had been away for a week. He can be very proud of his camp; not an alien plant in sight, not a hint of litter. Perhaps granite boulders heighten gravity but whatever it is, something draws you in at Mqeku Camp and you will want to return.
Durban-based NPO Green Corridors, which cares for green spaces around the City, this week was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation by Plastics SA for its commitment and dedication to helping restore rivers and for protecting our waterways and natural environment.
The Caroline Reid Award was presented to Green Corridors’ Coastal and Waste Management Projects Officer Musawenkosi Shange, who works with the NPO’s Green Spaces programme, and Tri-ecotours founder and Green Corridors’ Litterboom Coordinator, Siphiwe Rakgabale.
Caroline Reid was an ocean conservation warrior who coordinated hundreds of beach and diving clean-ups, was central in the work done with the loss of plastic pellets (nurdles) in the Durban Harbour in 2017 and with her networking skills, increased the awareness of plastic pollution on the KwaZulu-Natal Coastline.
Green Corridors has the vision to provide solutions and support for cleaning of natural environments, ensuring waste is recycled, repurposed, or removed, and that communities within these areas are significantly involved.
“We would like to thank Plastics SA for this recognition as we continue to carry on the legacy of Caroline Reid,” says Musawenkosi Shange. “The work we do is very much in collaboration with a number of partner organisations and stakeholders including Adopt-a-River, WESSA, and Umgeni Estuary Conservancy, DUCT’s Amanzi Eyethu Nobuntu programme, the eThekwini Municipality’s Solid Waste and Parks Department, with support from sponsors such as SAPRIPOL and PETCO.”
“We hope that the work we do in restoring and cleaning riverways helps to create improved natural spaces for people to connect with nature, and the planet and improve their quality of life,” says Siphiwe Rakgabale.
For more information about Green Corridors visit https://durbangreencorridor.co.za
For more information about Plastics SA visithttps://www.plasticsinfo.co.za/
This February, the GO!Durban Cycle Academy celebrates its fifth anniversary, having significantly impacted on the lives of young people through its dynamic youth development programmes.
The Academy was launched in 2016 as a joint initiative between the eThekwini Transport Authority and Green Corridors NPC, and fast made its way to being recognised as Durban's leading youth development and active mobility programme. It provides free cycling training, academic support, and life skills opportunities to youth at four sites in the heart of communities in Inanda, Chesterville, KwaDabeka, and Kwamashu.
Now the largest cycling development programme in South Africa, the Academy has 400 beneficiaries between the ages of 6 and 18 years at these sites. The primary objective is to offer recreational cycling at a grassroots level, but talented riders are recognised and selected to participate in provincial and national events based on technical ability as well as their school academic results according to the “no pass, no race” rule. The programme is the only cycling development academy in South Africa to cover all five Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)*disciplines of mountain biking, i.e. XCO (Cross-Country Olympic), Marathon, Pump Track, Downhill and Enduro.
"We can see the way the cycle academy has made a difference in the community; it's not just about cycling, it's also about helping kids to overcome their problems." - Brightson Dladla: KwaMashu Coach
As a pioneer in the discipline of pump track in South Africa, the Academy is home to three world-class Velosolutions pump tracks and has hosted two Red Bull Pump Track World Championships qualifier events (2018 and 2019) at the first track built in the province in KwaDabeka.
Setting the precedent for similar programmes across the country, the Academy won the Sports Development Programme of the Year Award at the 2019 Hollard Sport Industry Awards. The awards celebrate outstanding accomplishments in the South African sports industry, and the Academy was recognised for its holistic approach to youth development, achievements within the sport of cycling, and its positive impact on the community. In addition to improving the lives of its direct beneficiaries, the programme creates gainful employment for a number of bike park staff including coaches, bike mechanics, trail builders, tutors, cleaners and caterers.
"Awande loves riding a bike and there is a lot of improvement in her school work. It is important to have the academy in our community because it takes our kids off the street and provides a healthy lifestyle for them." - Phumelele Sibiya, Mother of Awande Sibiya (age 12) from KwaMashu Bike Park
A key focus in the last two years has been female development, and the programme made history in 2019 when it produced the first Black female riders to ever compete in the KZN Gravity series (Downhill and Enduro MTB), as well as represent the province of KwaZulu-Natal at the Spur High School MTB League national finals in October 2019.
"It takes our community to another level and makes our kids united. They have fun, learn respect, and get skills for cycling and school." Jabulile Dlamini, Mother of Sfundo Dlamini (age 14) from Inanda Bike Park
In 2019, the programme expanded to include a musical theatre academy where youth are enrolled in singing, dancing and acting classes. Every year, this academy stages an original "edutainment" production in the local communities which creates an opportunity for the youth to showcase their talents while at the same time delivering an important message to the audience.
The programme has continued to invest in the success of the youth during the Covid-19 pandemic. This included providing monthly food packs to all members, as well as adapted academic support where Mathematics and English tutors conducted Whatsapp sessions with Matric students to assist them in preparing for their final examinations.
“We began the GO!Durban Cycle Academy as a proactive way to encourage a culture of active mobility within communities who would not usually have had access to cycle training and equipment,” explains Head of the Ethekwini Transport Authority, Thami Manyathi.
“Little did we envision that this would become so much more than just a place to learn to cycle. We have seen how, through the care and efforts of the managers, coaches and teachers, these youths' lives have changed with improved academic results and cycling abilities, as well as greater involvement and commitment to the sport, and their communities. Thanks to all in the City and our private sector partners for believing in this worthwhile programme.”
(Above: Tube riding at Mqeku Picnic Site)
Holidays are upon us, and Green Corridors tourism sites offer a wonderful array of outdoor activities for the whole family, and only a short distance from Durban’s CBD – self-drive or fully-guided.
eNanda Adventure Park on the exquisite Inanda Dam has picnic sites and an awesome pump bike track for the adventurous. Guided mountain biking, birding excursions, hiking trails, and canoeing are on offer.
South of Durban is the beautiful Mnini Dam set in the heart of the picturesque uMgababa area offering two superb sites for picnics, canoeing, fishing (large-mouth bass, tilapia), and some spectacular birding, hiking, and MTB trails. Two offerings are found here: Thulas’ Adventures, with a special holiday event in the form of a pop-up camp taking place on 26 March for Earth Hour with a night walk; and the Mnini Dam Tourist Resort.
(Above: Mnini Dam boasts an incredible network of wild, beautiful hiking trails)
The Mqeku picnic site in the exquisite Valley of 1000 Hills has a unique ‘bum-slide’ on its river, a sparkling clean tributary into the Umgeni. This crazy, fun slide ends in a serenely calm pool, where you can simply float on a tube. Walks, hikes, and birding are on offer here.
Also in the Valley of 1000 Hills is Isithumba with hiking, MTB, and cultural tours; while Lower Molweni is a hikers, birders, and nature-lovers paradise with a network of community-developed nature trails that lead hikers through the spectacular rugged cliffs and forests of the area, just on the outskirts of the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve.
(Above: The various trails around Lower Molweni provide breathtaking views)
Near the Blue Lagoon in Durban is the GreenHub with some amazing eco-tourism activities including birding, hiking, canoeing, and a visit to the fascinating Ezemvelo Beachwood Mangroves (on selected days).
Green Corridors sites and tourism experiences are so easily accessible, although guided tours can enhance one’s experience. Shuttle tours are offered to many of these sites in an aircon mini-bus and qualified guides. Most sites also offer some form of accommodation or spend a night or the entire weekend with one of Green Corridors fully-catered and arranged Pop Up Camps.
(Above: Pop up Camping, a fully organised camping adventure for the entire family)
All sites have a nominal entrance fee - camping and activity fees vary from site to site, helping to drive the local tourism economy in these areas.
Four organisations in Durban, have been collaborating to support and develop the exquisite Lower Molweni Valley for local and international tourism, in an effort to stimulate and drive the community’s economy in a setting that has high tourism potential.
Lower Molweni is a short drive into the Valley of 1000 Hills from Hillcrest and is a hikers, birders and nature-lovers paradise. Now Durban’s Green Corridors, with its vision to see communities thrive in balance with the habitats around them, is working together with the local organisations: Kloof Conservancy, Philangethemba Impact, and 1000 Hills Community Tourism Organisation, to develop eco-tourism initiatives that create local employment and business opportunities and at the same time protect the environment.
These organisations, which have varying mandates, have pooled resources and ideas with Green Corridors: The Kloof Conservancy, aims to promote environmental awareness and conserve the area’s natural habitats; Philangethemba Impact, is a collaborative empowerment programme between the social outreach ministry of St Agnes Anglican Church in Kloof, and the neighbouring Molweni Valley community, and 1000 Hills CTO, is the local community tourism organisation promoting tourism in this area.
Currently, in this area there is a network of community-developed nature trails that lead hikers through the spectacular rugged cliffs and forests of the area, just on the outskirts of the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve. This reserve is a biodiversity treasure trove including 50 mammals, 253 bird, 35 reptiles, 150 butterflies, 273 tree and over 1500 plant species.
Much work is being done by partners on the ground including the community of Lower Molweni Trust around various new and exciting tourism opportunities, including a 1.4km zipline, which is planned to be the longest in South Africa, experiential and cultural tours around the local community, and Pop up Camping - Green Corridors’ unique portable camping experience which can move from site to site.
For local community members, microbusinesses have started up, as a result, providing employment opportunities and are expected to grow as interest in the area increases. Businesses include trail clearers who cut paths and remove alien plants from the trails; litter and waste controllers, a catering business K&X Café and Ibongezi Crafters based at the Philangethemba Impact site – the start point of the nature trails. Local trail guides are being trained and mentored by experienced Green Corridors nature guides.
“We aim to develop local tourism opportunities and help stimulate community-based economies, through our vision to connect people to the planet,” says Duncan Pritchard, of Green Corridors. “The support of tourism in this area plays a pivotal role in ensuring the long-term conservation of this incredibly beautiful part of Durban. This is all achievable by integrating socio-economic needs with conservation needs, and by working hand in hand with local organisations and the communities in and around the area.”
“Our overall goal is to create hope and tangible outcomes for the people in this area,” says Siphiwe Gumede of Philangethemba Impact. “Adding an adventure aspect to the offering like the zipline, will help to draw people to the area, and stimulate the various small businesses that rely on tourism.”
“Central to what we do is to promote the area to support businesses operating in this exquisite environment here in the Valley of 1000 Hills,” says Jennifer Gregory, of the 1000 Hills Community Tourism Organisation. “Key to this is ensuring the environment lives up to the promise, so part of that is to have local buy-in and interest in what is being planned, to maintain its natural beauty.”
Paolo Candotti, Chairman of the Kloof Conservancy says, “This is a really exciting collaboration for us all, as we work together to find the solution to the social and environmental needs of the people in this area. As we collaborate to find workable and sustainable ways to develop the tourism offerings, we are always open to sharing knowledge and welcoming other organisations and partners who are interested.”
It’s been a long tough road for many people, during the Covid-19 Lockdown levels and now as people are beginning to move more freely, community spaces are looking forward to welcoming visitors who are eager to be outdoors once more to enjoy fresh air and recreation after many months of indoor isolation.
Post-Covid-19, there will be more pressure on governments, NGO’s, and the private sector to drive small economies in local communities. With an expected rise in unemployment, a bi-product of the forced global lockdowns, new ways to derive incomes are going to be key for survival, and especially in the poorer communities in South Africa.
Public voting has started for the inaugural Commonwealth Litter Programme's STOMP (Stamp Out Marine Plastic Pollution) Awards, which was initiated to discover and encourage innovations to reduce and eliminate marine plastic pollution.
Just 30 minutes south of Durban’s CBD, in the heart of quiet rural uMgababa area alongside the Mnini Dam there are a number of fun outdoor leisure activities hosted all-year-round by Green Corridors and its partners.
With the COVID-19 pandemic expected to reach its peak during the July holidays, and with citizens being urged not to travel unnecessarily for leisure, there are many healthy and safe outdoor options close to home which allow families to have some good old-fashioned fun.
Activities on offer include fishing, canoeing, boating, hiking and birding. There is also a network of trails that allow for exploring, birding, mountain biking and hiking - all enabling safe social distancing for groups in their own “bubbles.” There are accommodation choices too for overnight and mini-break stays.
The dam itself boasts largemouth bass, tilapia and an abundance of bird life.
The two tourism sites at Mnini are Thulas’ Adventures, which hosts pop- up camps, and guided nature and birding hikes, and cycle tours; and the Mnini Dam Tourist Resort for picnics, boat launching, fishing, birding, and hiking.
Thulas' Adventures, with host Thulas Luthuli, an accredited guide, gives insightful and engaging guided walks and cycling tours around the area including a visit to the local Sangoma. For bird-lovers, there is also great birding, and for the more adventurous canoeing, and a spectacular walk up the Nsingizane River to a waterfall and pool, where, in hotter months, you can enjoy a leisurely swim. Join him as he expands on the cultural history of the area, as well as allowing you to just enjoy being outdoors and in nature. Thulas, together with partners Green Corridors, also offers accommodation in the form of the pop-up camps – with up to eight two-man tents, a communal catering area (fully catered or self-catered), ablutions, and security. All these are booked via Green Corridors.
Mnini Dam Tourist Resort, hosts, Mlu and Sphiwe Shezi-Mqadi welcome guests all week, offering catch and release bass fishing, canoeing, picnicking and trail options. Permanent gazebos with braai facilities, a jungle gym, and grassy lawns overlooking the dam, make it a safe and fun space to relax.
Mlu and Sphiwe offer boat hire and launch facilities, a bar and grill, frozen braai packs, and bait, and overnight camping. When lockdown regulations allow, they also cater regularly for special events such as weddings and birthday parties.
They have recently built four warmly appointed rooms with en-suites, which they offer at a BnB rate with a full English breakfast, for those wanting a more comfortable overnight stay away from the city.
Both sites enjoy committed involvement from their communities and the well-being and security of guests is important to them. Take time to stop and chat to people on the roads, and expect yells of delight and joyous laughter from children, as you are welcomed with open arms to this small slice of paradise.
In celebration of youth month, and in continued support of active mobility efforts throughout the City, the eThekwini Mayor, Cllr Mxolisi Kaunda today, 19 June, opened a new bike park in KwaMashu.
The opening ceremony highlighted the collaborative efforts of the stakeholders who have provided support towards establishing the new bike park, namely the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, the Federal Republic of Germany (through its Ministry for Economic Development (BMZ)), represented by KfW Development Bank, and the City’s local implementation partner, Green Corridors (NPC); to officially open the new site to the community.
The GO!Durban Cycle Academy Programme was founded in 2016 and has achieved great success in the five years of its existence, growing from one site in eNanda, to a total of four bike parks within the City including; KwaDabeka, Chesterville, and the newly developed site in KwaMashu. Overall, the programme impacts approximately 400 youth on a weekly basis, providing free cycling training, academic support and life skills development.
The new bike park in KwaMashu features a world-class Velosolutions asphalt pump track which provides an ideal training ground for youth with varying skills sets, from young cyclists who are learning to ride, to the more advanced riders who are training to compete in professional events. To enable the delivery of the additional services provided by the cycle academy programme, the new site also provides related supporting amenities to the users of the Academy, all of which were funded by the KfW German Development Bank on behalf of the German Government.
“The GO!Durban Cycle Academy bike parks are a beacon of hope in their communities,” says His Worship the Mayor, Cllr Mxolisi Kaunda. “They bring young people together to play and learn, using the sport of cycling as the common focus, whether it be for recreational, commuting or sporting purposes. Our hope for the new KwaMashu bike park is that it will continue to provide opportunities for youth and adults alike to experience the joy of riding a bicycle and to contribute to the creation of a robust cycling culture, in line with the City’s active mobility plan.”
In addition to youth and sports development, the GO!Durban Cycle Academy bike parks protect and maintain valuable green spaces throughout the metropole - a further testament to the efforts of all partners involved to achieve a more sustainable and liveable City in line with the National Development Plan, Vision 2030.
“It is true that when people hear of the name “Cycling Academy” they might be inclined to think that the only activity that the academy undertakes is to teach the participants how to ride bicycles, but looking at the work that the Cycling Academies have undertaken, it is evident that the impact is much more far-reaching,” indicated Dr. Thulie Khumalo, Deputy Director-General – Climate Change and Air Quality, of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Forestry.
“The KfW, on behalf of the German Government, has proudly supported the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs and eThekwini Municipality with advancing Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) alternatives to traditional means of transport. It is rewarding to see such an important initiative bear fruit” said Silke Stadtmann, the Country Director for KfW South Africa. KfW, on behalf of the German Government, has supported this initiative with grant funding towards construction and maintenance of walkways, bicycle lanes and parking facilities in eThekwini Metro, the City of Johannesburg and Polokwane Municipality.
Ms Stadtmann adds, “The GO!Durban Cycling Academy contributes to one of KfW's key mandates of responsibility for Air, Planet, and Climate and provides a glimpse into what a carbon-neutral future could look like”. Through the programs implemented, this initiative promotes people's physical activity as well as inclusivity, where communities gather and for the sake of youth well-being.
In a further demonstration of the City’s commitment to promote recreational and commuter cycling for a healthy lifestyle and in an effort to contribute towards the reduction of the transport-related carbon footprint, the eThekwini Municipality also today launched the as an advocacy intervention aimed at raising awareness on the positive benefits of cycling for recreational, health and socio-economic purposes.
“In order to build a successful active mobility network, the system needs to be adopted and embraced,” explains the Chairperson of the Human Settlements and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Thanduxolo Sabelo. The GO!Durban Cycle Academy programme addresses the first important and practical step in this process by teaching community members to cycle. The GO!Durban Bicycle-Share Programme will give community members access to the equipment and related mechanical support which is required to ensure sustainability of the Programme.”
The bicycle-share pilot Programme will comprise three key elements namely; training, equipment and ongoing maintenance. Fifty community members have been identified through a rigorous selection process and they will each receive a bicycle, helmet and reflective safety vest. The bicycles are all fitted with innovative tracking units that will enable GO!Durban to collect valuable data that will allow the City for better active mobility planning in the future.
“We are truly excited to launch the Bicycle-Share Pilot Programme in KwaMashu,” says Mr. Thami Manyathi, Head: eThekwini Transport Authority. “The GO!Durban Cycle Academy has contributed greatly to our goal of advancing the uptake of active mobility in the City, and this programme will further allow members of the community to put their cycling skills into practice. By distributing these bicycles, GO!Durban is giving people more than a physical asset, we are connecting them to economic and social opportunities through improved mobility.”
Commonwealth Litter Programme Announces STOMP Awards for South African Innovations that will help reduce and eliminate plastic waste The Commonwealth Litter Programme (CLIP), the international science and outreach programme working in partnership with governments, universities, NGOs and communities in countries across the Commonwealth to take action on plastics entering the oceans, has announced the introduction of its STOMP (Stamp Out Marine Plastic Pollution) Awards in South Africa.
13 year old Aphiwe Goge lit up the cycling field with her speed and technical ability this year. She has made her mark as a versatile rider who is able to excel in multiple disciplines, and this has earned her a nomination as a finalist for the Newcomer of the Year category at the 2019 Kwa-Zulu Natal Sport Awards.
In a combination of passion for the environment, a drive for economic opportunities, and the need for people to make a living, a number of civil society organisations, government structures, businesses and informal waste pickers are working together to do clean-ups, recycle and repurpose waste material that benefits all, in what promises to be a workable prototype for the City of Durban.
For several years, informal waste pickers, known as the Roadhouse Crescent Recyclers, which now number 24 people, have been working in and around Durban North and North Coast Road collecting paper and cardboard waste. They eventually began to assemble under the Connaught Bridge over the Umgeni River near the Bird Park. Here they sought a safe and shaded space to be able to sort, pack, and then await commercial paper recyclers to collect.
Alongside their efforts to eke out a living, came the unwanted dumping of potentially recyclable waste as residents and businesses in the area erroneously believed they were either supporting the recyclers, contributing to the recycling or that it was a legal waste site. But in fact, these “contributions” merely turned the site into an illegal dumping ground and eyesore for ratepayers, and the pickers were the target of the local community’s frustration.
In stepped a number of concerned organisations, one of them being Green Corridors, with a vision to provide solutions and support that could benefit all. A local area co-ordinator, Musa Shange, supports this collaboration and works with the various stakeholders. Siphiwe Rakgabale, Green Corridors’ litter-boom and clean up coordinator, who has also worked with waste collectors around Durban, and who has known the Roadhouse recyclers for some time, and Jonathan Welch, technical consultant and project manager of the Green Corridors KwaMashu Materials Beneficiation Centre (KMBC) provide technical support for this complex “eco-system”.
They work with the Green Corridors’ Green Spaces teams along with vital knowledge and implementation partners such as Adopt-a-River, WESSA, and Umgeni Estuary Conservancy (under which the site falls), who together supervise 10 enviro champs under DUCT’s Amanzi Eyethu Nobuntu programme, the eThekwini Municipality’s Solid Waste and its Parks Department, the local ward Councillor Shontel De Boer, concerned individuals and businesses along with sponsors such as SAPRIPOL and PETCO to clean up and remove waste from green spaces, and waterways. This waste is sorted and is then goes to recycling and repurposing projects such as its own KwaMashu Materials Beneficiation Centre, the NPO’s pilot programme which is working towards creating products from plastic waste that can be monetized.
Recently, with generous assistance from locally-based business Logtrans, the area under the bridge was levelled off, the illegally dumped waste removed, the area fenced off to ensure control of the site, and a security guard assigned to the area. Green Corridors has sourced funding for a container to use as an admin space for the site. Already discussions are on the way to set up a paper baler that will help the local recyclers to bale their daily collections for sale to commercial recyclers.
Green Corridors already has several programmes in informal settlements with its litterbooms on tributaries into main waterways trapping waste, which is collected, sorted, and transported to its materials beneficiation centre for repurposing.
“The Connaught Bridge collaboration is a work in progress, and going forward we hope to also have exciting solutions for the use of the plastics which would not usually be recycled because they are either too dirty or contaminated,” says Jonathan Welch. “By doing this, we create more value for these materials, which then supports a smaller informal economy, such as that of waste collectors.”
Around 300 people are currently being trained and deployed, under DUCT’s catchment-wide Amanzi Ethu Nobuntu programme, under supervision by organisations like Green Corridors and Adopt-a-River, to monitor river water quality and ensure cleanups take place regularly and the waterways and banks are cleared of alien invasive plants such as water hyacinth and waste.
“Our ultimate aim is to support these recyclers to establish a viable formal cooperative they can lead and operate, providing a key link in value chains that re-use waste materials and build a sustainable circular economy,” says Musa Shange.