Mbona Private Nature Reserve is an oasis of peace, tranquility and security situated in the Karkloof Hills approximately 30 km north of Howick in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands. It comprises 700 hectares of land at the interface of mist-belt grassland and indigenous forest.There are 100 homes on Mbona scattered across the Reserve connected by 28 kilometres of gravel roads. The houses do not conform to any particular design style and are set in up to 1 acre of private garden per share. Each has a unique outlook and while some are situated amongst grassland and overlook one or more of the trout dams or Lake Crystal, others are tucked into the indigenous forest or look out over the Midlands towards Albert Falls dam.
Mbona has been established for almost 50 years. It was the brainchild of Eric Mackenzie who owned the land and was advised of a similar concept in the USA. Many of the shares are still owned by the original shareholders or their families. This continuity has lent an atmosphere of mellow maturity to the Reserve.
Mbona is situated in a high rainfall area (avg 1300mm pa) with thunderstorms and mist occurring frequently in summer. Frost is common in winter with occasional snow. The mean average temperature in summer is 24.8oC with a winter low of 1oC – a good time to enjoy a warming log fire.
It is breathtakingly beautiful with both indigenous and exotic trees contributing to the natural splendour at all seasons of the year. It is a haven for a rich biodiversity of indigenous flora and fauna. The grasslands support more than 350 species of flowers including a large stand of scilla natalensis, dierama, brunsvigia, and watsonia. In the indigenous forests stands of clivia grow at the feet of evergreen trees during the spring months of the year. Summer brings the streptocarpus, orchids, begonias and impatiens flowering in the forest shade and alongside the streams. In autumn a wonderful variety of plectranthus colour the forest. The enormous yellowwood trees are believed to be amongst the oldest in the country.
Black wildebeest, zebra and blesbok have been introduced to the Reserve but bushbuck, grey duiker and reedbuck are regularly seen. Caracal, serval, jackals and even occasionally leopard frequent the Reserve. Spotted genet, otters, bush-pig, porcupine, mongoose, hares, vervet and samango monkeys are also thriving residents. Our bird list comprises of over 200 forest and grassland species. Ground hornbill, secretary bird, narina trogon, bush black cap, orange ground thrush and cape parrot are a few of the rarer birds that occur on the Reserve. At dawn and dusk it is a privilege to experience the quietness interrupted only by varied bird calls.
The ethos of the Reserve is the appreciation and conservation of Nature. The recreational activities are focused on the enjoyment of the natural environment.
- WALKING: There are many well maintained walks/hikes throughout Mbona encompassing both grassland and forest.
- HORSE RIDING: Privately owned horses can be stabled at Mbona. Horses belonging to the Reserve are available for out-rides for more experienced riders and paddock rides for children.
- MOUNTAIN BIKING is particularly popular on Mbona as the terrain offers some of the best biking in the country.
- TRAIL RUNNING is popular and the Three Cranes Challenge organized by the Wildlands Conservation Trust makes use of Mbona’s mountainous forest and grassland paths.
- WATER SPORTS: Canoeing, sailing, wind-surfing and swimming are all popular water sports on Lake Crystal and in the summer months the sounds of happy, splashing children reverberate around here. The Yacht Mole at Lake Crystal is a popular venue for family and friends to get together for picnics.
- ANGLING: The trout hatchery provides a regular stock of trout for the eight dams and the bass fishing in Lake Crystal is popular at specified times of the year.
- TENNIS: There are two tennis courts and a small tennis pavilion.
Table tennis, darts and a pool table are available at the club house.