The Wonders of Mtunzini
In December, while we had a bit of free time we decided to try and see a bit of our local area … our journey took us to the coastal town of Mtunzini which is located just 90 minutes drive north of Durban. The word Mtunzini is derived from the Zulu word emthunzini which means ‘a place in the shade’ and in the history of this coastal town it refers more to the place under the milkwood trees near the Mlalazi River.
Overlooking the Umlalazi Nature Reserve, Mtunzini is a lovely coastal town, well known for its status as a conservancy and also for being a town with a safe, clean and peaceful environment. As had already spent the morning exploring the Amatikulu Nature Reserve we were in need of lunch when we arrived in Mtunzini and stopped for a quick bite to eat at The Clay Oven Restaurant.
The Clay Oven must have the best view in Mtunzini … the restaurant, with its wide, covered deck area overlooks the golf course and further on from that, the Indian Ocean. Sit back and relax while spotting ships make their way to the Durban harbor, golfers putting for a birdie and sometimes, buck grazing on the lawn.
Although the Clay Oven has an extensive menu comprising seafood, hamburgers and pasta, we opted to share two pizzas which were made in a wood-fired oven. Over a weekend and on public holidays, the restaurant serves a decadent breakfast. Meals are created using fresh, seasonal ingredients wherever possible. The restaurant is wheelchair-friendly and offers free Wi-Fi!
The Clay Oven (closed Tuesdays) is open weekdays from 11h00 to 21h00, weekends and public holidays from 09h00 to 21h00 and for breakfast during the school holidays from 09h00 to 11h00. They are found at 32 Hely Hutchinson Street, Mtunzini and can be reached on +27 (0)35 340-1262.
Feeling revitalized after our lunch we made our way to the well known Raphia Palm Forest; a grove of raphia palms which has been declared a natural monument and is the best place to spot the rare Palmnut Vulture which nests near the top of the palm.
The palms, which grow to a height of 25m and have leaves which are among the largest in the plant kingdom, were introduced to the town approximately 100 years ago. They are one of only six palm species that are indigenous to South Africa.
There is a timber boardwalk that runs through the swamp forest; providing a very easy walk through the colony of palms. It really is a fascinating walk with the gigantic palms towering overhead!
Mtunzini has a lot to offer; fantastic birding, a nine hole golf course, pristine beaches, the Umlalazi Game Reserve and much more. The quaint town really is worth visiting whether it be for an afternoon as we did or for a lot longer!
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