Adventure - Biodiversity - Community

Shongweni Nature reserve is an non profit company and the operating company for the community trust called the Zwelibomvu Community Trust. The Trust comprises of the 150 families who were removed from the area by government when they built the dam to supply Durban it’s potable water.

Shongweni is rich in biodiversity, a term most people do not bother themselves with or find relevant, however one that refers to that part of nature that gives life to all. In fact, biodiversity links us all, no matter where we live on the plant and it does this through its immense capacity to clean the air we breathe, the water we drink and it provides us with the basis from which we eat and drink and the cures for diseases that threaten our health.

Biodiversity is that balance on the globe that provides us with life, but that which we continue to undermine and destroy. Nature based tourism seldomly references the foundation of life biodiversity offers us all, nonetheless, people in general feel its immense power when immersed within these beautiful spaces.

Shongweni has an abundance of natural spaces with biodiverse landscapes that are breath-taking, offering the soul nourishment and healing. The reserve’s diversity beyond flora and fauna to cultural riches that extend back 30 000 years with evidence of modern mad living here and using the area as home, living off its riches.

What Clients Say


A wonderful experience! A beautiful project carried out by the team and the residents of the nearby communities. I didn’t want to leave the place, but I will definitely return.

Francisco, Peru

Wild walk and kayak

Thanks for the wonderful experience and looking forward to visiting you again when I am back in KZN.

Isaac, South Africa

Wild walk and kayak

It was such an amazing experience at a wonderful place 🙂

Thuto, South Africa

Wild walk and kayak

Where Did It
All Begin

Our History

The Shongweni Dam was constructed by Italian engineers fromaround 1922-1927 to supply drinking water to Durban, then a city of some 200 000 inhabitants about 30 kilometers away.

The building of the dam caused the displacement of 150 families that had their houses in the area.

Dr. Ian Player of the Wilderness Foundation proposed that the management of Shongweni Dam, which was owned by the state-owned entity Umgeni Water, be taken over by the Wilderness Leadership School (WLS). The WLS thus established a private operating company with the mandate of managing Shongweni Dam and the land around it.

After 10 years under the Wilderness Leadership School, the state-owned company Umgeni Water acquired 100% of the company shares from WLS.

Between 2005 and 2010 the reserve was at its best, with a flourishing biodiversity, serveral mammalian species including white rhino, buffalors, wildebeest, waterbuck, giraffe and kudu, and a rich bird life with over 250 species recorded.

In 2007 a land claim was lodged with the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights by the Zwelibomvu Community Trust, the representative of the 150 families that were displaced in 1922. A land claim is a request for the restoration of a right in land.

The land was successfully declared private land and was given to the Zwelibomvu Community Trust in 2013.

On 30th June 2018 the previous management company left the reserve and the new operating company together with the newly appointed mentors, Conservation Guardians, took over the management of the dilapidated reserve and started the tough task trying to restore the reserve to its original beauty, albeit with zero resources.

On Mandela Day, 18th July 2018, the new appointed mentoring company embarked in a 67km’s paddle around the dam to raise funds for the reserve.

The very poor conditions the reserve had been left in, the several acts of vandalism and the delay in receiving the post settlement funding due from the government, forced the new management to close the reserve for 2 and a half months.

365 days after the new management took over and the mentoring process by Conservation Guardians started, the reserve still hasn’t received the funding due to it.

Without resources, the new management has been able to create miracles: the reserve supports, either directly or indirectly, a total pf 83 people. We have implemented sustainability projects that provide opportunities for small cooperatives from the community to learn skills and earn an income, and have developed and certified 2 local men as mountain climbing supervisors, and is in the process of developing bird guides, trail run guides and there is more to come.

A tough year for all of us. COVID-19 has slowed down the impressive progress that the reserve and the team had managed to achieve.

But we definately not the type of team who gives up and on July 18th, Mandela Day, Conservation Guardians and Shongweni Nature Reserve organized a virtual paddling event to raise funds and awareness.

The respond was incredible and with the funds raised the reserve was able to purchase so far: uniforms for our field ranger and anti poaching unit, de-snaring and first aid kit and a mobile kitchen trailer.

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A paradise for birdwatchers

You would be suprised how much beauty you can come across during a slow, quiet paddle around the dam. White-backed night heron with her chicks, a Swamphen gracefully walking on water hyacinth and the iconic yellow-billed duck. Shongweni is a little paradise for birdwatchers too.


Every day is giraffe day!

Nothing better than a wild walk with our wildlife to brighten your day. Celebrate your birthday, spend some time with your partner or just to be in Nature. A gentle walk or a sporty hike, you set the standard and we tailor-make the walk to suit you.