Our little piece of paradise has more history than you can imagine
+350 spotted bird species
an abundance of birdlife, fauna & flora
Our 5000 hectare malaria free nature reserve is home to over 350 spotted bird species, an abundance of fauna & flora, and home to South Africa’s plains game.
A pristine malaria free wilderness of some 5000 hectares, enable guests to enjoy the exclusive experience of tranquillity and the natural African Wilderness.
Topographically the reserve consists of plateaus, steep densely wooded slopes, valley bottoms, drainage lines and a large central basin. The main watercourses are the KwaNcibi, KwaJakaza, Mtungwane and Nkoxweni rivers. Large hills that are prominent include Sandluluba, Ndulwini and Spitz Kop.
The reserve is situated in the summer rainfall region with annual rainfall in the high lying areas of about 800mm and 700mm in the lower lying areas. The range in altitude is considerable, varying from 820 meters above sea level in the southwest to 430 meters on the banks of the Umkomaas River.
Duma Manzi has a wide range of geological features, including outcrops of sandstone and dolerite, which give rise to the spectacular cliffs. There are also sedimentary rocks formed from melting glaciers (called glacial tillite), that have drop stones from the Witwatersrand Complex embedded in them. The soils derived from the above rocks, together with the steep slopes, river valleys and undulating hills and plateaus, result in variety of landscapes, which in turn supports many different plant and animal species.
The eco systems support more than 300 species of birds, among the specials on the bird list are African Fish Eagle, Martial Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Verreaux (Black Eagle), Ground Hornbill, Narina Trogon, Knysna and Purple Crested Tauraco (Loerie). A wide variety of butterfly species are seen in the woodlands and high lying grasslands and frogging is also high on the list with a variety of species found in the reserve.
Besides our prolific bird life and other animals, Duma Manzi is home to the following wildlife: disease-free buffalo, the elusive leopard, giraffe, zebra, blue wildebeest, kudu, nyala, bushbuck, impala, blesbok, oribi, grey and blue duiker, common reedbuck, eland, serval, striped polecat, banded mongoose, slender mongoose, water mongoose, white tailed mongoose, African weasel, aardwolf, African wildcat, honey badger, black-backed jackal, clawless otter, caracal, large-spotted genet as well as many smaller mammals, predators and reptiles.
Duma Manzi Nature Reserve was born out of the owner’s personal love for the African bush and an innate passion for wildlife conservation.
In August 2005 the properties (consisting of 16 farms) acquired by the owner, were officially transferred to the new owners. The former cattle ranching farms, now formed the future 5000 hectare Malaria- Free reserve that is, Duma Manzi Nature Reserve.
The owner’s chose the name ‘Duma Manzi’ the Zulu words meaning ‘ Thundering Water’- as the reserve has 12km of the thundering mighty Mkomazi (Umkomaas) river flowing through it.
A comprehensive business plan was compiled, where the owners’ vision and the cost implications for the projects that lay ahead, were clearly defined to create a sustainable nature reserve. It was also a prerequisite, that as far as possible, all staff members be employed from the local surrounding communities; to create employment opportunities within our circle of friends “our local community.”
The owner’s put forward their vision for the reserve; the emphasis being on developing a holistic approach to this gem of a nature and game reserve. The vision was that Duma Manzi becomes a unique conservation initiative that allows animals to be re-introduced to the area where they once roamed freely; making a contribution to the conservation of our natural heritage. The impending challenge was to re- establish the original flora and fauna species to the area, after the removal of alien weed, to restore the land to its former glory; creating a birder’s paradise and a nature lover’s dream.
The first project that commenced was the clearing of bush and alien vegetation, and the erection of game fencing on the outer boundaries of the reserve. This presented an immense task, given the natural fall of the property; with its steepcliffs and undulating landscape.
The remaining months of 2006 were utilized for the removal of alien weeds, building of water holes and the creation of animal social sites, laying of water pipes and the like; while the fencing teams continued to erect game fencing surrounding the perimeters of the reserve.
After careful consideration and planning, the lodges’ building program began; this was a journey in its own right. Every aspect of building was to incorporate and regard the natural surroundings; as well as correspond with our environmentally friendly and responsible approach.
Upon completion of the lodges, we began our next building project; the construction of Duma Manzi Eco Spa. Firstly, we began with a rather exiting venture- the construction of the cave- like building that is Duma Manzi Eco Spa. The Spa has been built to blend seamlessly into its natural surroundings, to further enhance our policy of incorporating a holistic environment into our buildings.
For those who have a historical interest, Duma Manzi Nature Reserve is steeped in history. Cecil John Rhodes first arrived in Durban on 1 September 1870. He brought three thousand pounds his aunt lent him and used it to invest in diamond diggings in Kimberly. After a brief stay with the Surveyor-General of Natal, Dr. P.C. Sutherland, in Pietermaritzburg, Rhodes joined his brother Herbert on his cotton farm in the Umkomaas valley in Natal.
The C J Rhodes 1870 National Heritage Site is situated in the heart of Duma Manzi, where Cecil John Rhodes and his brother Herbert, first farmed cotton in 1870. The first wagon road from Pietermaritzburg to Cape Town is found on our nature reserve. In October 1871 Rhodes left the colony for the diamond fields of Kimberly.
“I never saw such an extra-ordinarily beautiful place in life. There, hundreds of feet below us, stretched out the whole valley with our huts looking like specs, and in the distance there were hills rising one above another, with a splendid blue tint on them”
(Cecil John Rhodes, 1870)
Hilltop House – built in 1880, has been kept in its original state by the owners and offers a bygone era Victorian Colonial Experience.
Duma Manzi Eco Lodge and Spa is situated in Richmond, with another 4000 hectares that lie across the Mkomazi River, which falls into the Ixopo region. Richmond is a town with an illustrious history, just like the Reserve itself. The Original settlers to arrive in Richmond came from Beaulieu, the seat of the Duke of Buccleuch in Richmond. As a result of difficulty in pronunciation, the town was later renamed Richmond.
Ixopo, immortalized in Alan Paton’s “Cry the Beloved Country” is the main centre of the Southern Midlands. Although originally named ‘Stuartstown’, the original onomatopoeic Zulu name has prevailed. When pronounced in Zulu, the ‘click’ letter (letter ‘x’) is reminiscent of the cattle’s hooves moving through the local marshes.
The original Dead Man’s Tree, where funeral notices were posted is still outside the Post Office. The Off Saddle Hotel is reputedly the oldest hostelry in South Africa to have retained its original name.
Ixopo’s countryside is very attractive, ranging in height from 400m to 1800m and therefore, encompasses many different topographies that give Duma Manzi a very distinct and diverse landscape.
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