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Five drives you must take on the South Coast


USING Port Shepstone as your starting point, here are five leisurely drives you really should take when you can.

This is just a basic 'sketch' so it's advisable to get your own map book or GPS so you don't get lost - although, it could be argued, that's half the fun.

1. Oribi Gorge.
Head out on the N2 towards Harding. It's about a half hour drive (around about 70km there and back) at a casual pace. The Oribi Gorge has some beautiful scenery and the road through the gorge is believed to follow an ancient elephant trail. You can stop and picnic in the nature reserve for a small fee. The Umzimkulwana River runs through the gorge. The Lake Eland Game Reserve is a hop, skip and jump away, and definitely worth a visit, as is Leopard Rock - a restaurant with unbelievable views.

2. Beaver Creek Coffee Farm.
Take the R61 and head south to Port Edward (about 50km). Then go inland and follow the signs. The restaurant boasts some of the finest home-grown coffee to be found in the land. There are a number of farm stores and craft shops along the route from Port Shepstone, plus a number of spots where you could stop for a meal. Along the way you can enjoy views of the undulating coastal grasslands and nearby ocean. It's also worth a quick drive to see the lighthouse and perhaps Splash Rock, a popular fishing spot. If you keep going inland after your stop at Beaver Creek, you'll end up going past/through Izingolweni and finally reach Paddock, which is the more inland entry point to the Oribi Gorge. 

3. Batstone's Drift.
It's close to town, but a gentle cruise inland of Port Shepstone can be enjoyed by going past Spiller's Wharf and by driving down into the Batstone's Drift area. It's a windy, twisty road which runs parallel to the Umzimkulu river, and allows for a rather different view of the Port Shepstone Country Club and nearby Umtentweni suburb. Perhaps avoid if there has been heavy summer rain, as the water level in the Umzimkulu River can rise alarmingly, and crossing the low lying bridge takes on a new level of 'fun'. Take a drive past the sugar mill. The Batstone's Drift bridge is also the end point for the annual tube race.

4. Old Road to Hibberdene.
If you have never taken the old South Coast road from Port Shepstone to Hibberdene, this drive is worth a try. It's not a long drive - it should take about 20 minutes - but there are a number of bridges to cross and the resultant views of lagoons and rivers makes one wonder about what things looked like 100 years ago in terms of the wildlife. Keep going after Hibberdene for another half an hour and you'll come across the Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve, perfect for walks and bird watching.

5. Ingeli Forest.
This one is a longish drive, where you keep going past Paddock and head out all the way to Harding. A good place to stop is the Ingeli Forest Lodge, and if you are a keen birder, a visit to the nearby forest is a must. You may get to spot a very rare Cape parrot, or even more rare, blue swallow. If you have the time and inclination, carry on all the way to Kokstad and even Matatiele, especially if there is snow in winter time (not uncommon at all). 

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