To all Philocaly Trail walkers, sponsors, beneficiaries and crew.
Sadly due to the official announcement at 12 pm today about beach closures we are having to change our route for the weekend.
We have not had a definitive answer/press release before this time despite many phone calls/e-mails etc to authorities for a formal statement.
Our new route for the weekend (as we have had to cut out our entire original route as it is officially closed off) is:
Beachwood Mangroves to Durban Harbour wall and return to finish just before Blue Lagoon with a total distance of 17kms.
Sheffield Main Beach North walking past Tinley Manor, turning after 8.5kms for a distance of 17kms returning to Sheffield.
We have had no choice but to do this today (Thursday 21 October).
Should the route not suit you please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will refund you.
The money raised continues to go to our amazing beneficiaries doing the work – and is especially needed during these trying environmental times.
Nikki and Mike
The original route planned for the 2-day Philocaly Weekend Walk
Saturday, October 23
KZN Ezemvelo Beachwood Mangroves to Umdloti Main Beach
WALK BEGINS: 07H30
(NB: Please park at Blue Lagoon, or at the HYPER, as parking at BEACHWOOD MANGROVES is not permitted)
The first day of our 2021 Weekend Trail is a very safe and secure route on beaches that are likely to be quite busy – especially in the Umhlanga area.
You will all remember the chemical spill that happened a few months ago which resulted in the closure of the North Coast beaches. The most significant area of concern for us is the Ohlanga River Mouth which was barricaded off and patrolled to prevent entry. Fortunately, when I walked this route a few weeks ago, the mouth was closed to the sea and so there was no problem passing it. We will monitor its status and trust that it isn’t a problem on the 23rd. We will keep you appraised. We have a Plan B so don’t let this deter you.
We leave the KZN Ezemvelo Beachwood Mangrove Nature Reserve’s main gate to have a stunning 0.7km walk through the black, red and white mangroves and over wooden bridges to cross onto Beachwood Beach. We are totally privileged that the Honorary Rangers have granted us this exclusive opportunity to walk a portion of this 76 hectare protected area, which is a South African National Monument! We should see great birdlife and lots of fiddler crabs!
Once we are alongside the Indian Ocean, we enjoy a magnificent 9.3km stretch to Umhlanga over the Virginia, Glenashley and La Lucia Beaches. There will be so much to see en route including cargo ships entering or leaving the Durban Harbour; surfers; Durban Country Club’s magnificent Beachwood Golf Course; and Virginia’s ever-busy private airport with lots of planes and helicopters taking off and landing.
Our Umhlanga landmark is always it’s Lighthouse, and the famous Oyster Box Hotel, which we pass to get onto Hawaan Beach and a 1.7km stretch to the edge of the Umhlanga Nature Reserve (which has magnificent forest walks within it). There’s a further 1km to the Ohlanga River Mouth which is normally blocked off to the sea.
After the crossing, you might want to focus on your feet or look out to sea for the next few hundred metres – because you will now be on the Nudist Beach!
It’s then a much quieter 4.3km to our day’s end point in Umdloti, walking across Selection Beach and then Newsel Beach.
Our exit point will be on the Umdloti Main Beach up to the car park which serves the village shopping centre, and Java Cafe. This will be clearly marked by the Philocaly Trail banners, and this end point will be the starting point for our second day of adventure.
Sunday, October 24
Umdloti Main Beach to Ballito Salmon Bay (17km)
WALK BEGINS: 07H30
This magnificent scenic route technically has two river crossings, lots of soft sloping beaches, and one small section of relatively low rocks.
We will leave Umdloti from the main beach (below the Java Cafe) and have a very straightforward 2.6 km walk passing Sentinel Rock to La Mercy Lagoon, which is the mouth of the Mdloti River. Technically this is a river crossing, but this mouth is very rarely open to the sea (unless heavy rain has prevailed). Look out for the Fish Eagles which are to be seen in the trees bordering the Lagoon.
It’s then 5.5 km, firstly below La Mercy’s South Beach Road passing the well-known Sea Belle curry restaurant, and then the beaches of Desainagar, to the popular bar and restaurant Beach Bums – which, to our knowledge, is the only restaurant on a beach in the whole 580km of KZN coastline! We then have a 1.5km stretch over the Sea Tides beaches and Tongaat Beach, to the Life Savers Unit on the Westbrook Main Beach.
I want you all to be totally alert and only walk in groups of 4 or more for the 7 km between the La Mercy Lagoon and Westbrook because this is a very popular and easily accessible fisherman’s area, and people do live in the beachside bushes. It is not a clean stretch, and normally debris is everywhere and just before Westbrook there is likely to be smelly and dirty stormwater areas. One of our beneficiaries, Adopt-A-River, will be joining us in cleaning up parts of this stretch.
We now have the most magnificent secluded stretch of beach – about 3.5km long – accessible only to homeowners in that private section of Westbrook. There are a few rocks to get over, but they are in no way a serious climb. Just make sure you tread carefully and avoid wet or slimy areas. This will get us to the Othongati River crossing. We are aiming to wade through it, but if the current is too strong or if anyone is worried or concerned about the crossing, your section leader (more details to follow) will show you how to get up onto the M4 bridge and where to get back on to the beach a few metres after the bridge. Oh! And just note… crocodiles have regularly been seen lazing on the bank on the inland side of the river and even on the M4 itself. Don’t stop to feed them. Try to outrun your walking partner!
Our last 4kms is past the Zimbali Estate on soft sand and sloping beaches and gets us to our weekend’s final destination. Focus on the sea because I have always seen pods of dolphins on this stretch. We will round the Zimbali Beach Estate and immediately see Ballito’s Ski Boat Club on Salmon Bay. 200 metres later at the steps leading up the restaurants, our Philocaly Trail banners will identify the finish.