Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve Hot
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Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve, situated on the KwaZulu Natal south coast and within a 15min drive from Scottburugh protects some of the last remaining patches of coastal scarp forest and coastal grasslands.

This mix of habitats, in turn, is home to 56 mammal, 23 amphibian and 33 reptile species. Birding is also excellent with specials such as the African Broadbill, Narina Trogon and Orange Ground Thrush being amongst the over 300 confirmed species that may be sighted. Insects and butterflies in particular make this location one of the best for macro-photography.

There are 19 kms of tourist road and a nature trail network of 15kms with varying lengths of trail that traverses the grasslands, wetlands and forest patches. This allows ample opportunity to explore the richness and diversity of this 2189ha reserve that sits at between 150 and 610m above sea level. 


Best Time to Photograph
Dawn over the grasslands provides a spectacular golden glow and many of the grassland birds can be found displaying and calling from prominent positions at this time. Insects become more active as the day warms up, while the forest patches are most active at dawn and dusk. The various game species are best photographed during late afternoon.
Type of Photography
  • Birds
  • Game
  • Insects
  • Scenery
Best Time of Year
  • Summer
  • Spring
Photographic Tips
Birds are generally shy on this reserve and it is best to try and photograph them during the first hour of dawn when they are displaying. The forest/grassland eco-tone provides excellent opportunities for insect photography and particularly for a wide range of butterfly species. The spring months covers the grasslands with a wide diversity of small flowers, which once again provide fantastic macro opportunities.
Recommended Gear
Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve is definitely one of those locations where every lens from wide-angled, through to macro, through to telephoto lenses will be used. Given that many insect species are nocturnal, flash is also a necessity. For the dark interiors of the forest patches, a tripod and cable release also aid photography.


Season and Weather
Summers can be extremely hot and humid with afternoon thunderstorms. Winters are generally more pleasant but nights can be very cold. Take extra drinking water with you as none is available on the reserve.
Other Activities
  • Bird Watching
  • Hiking


Closest Town
Getting There
Vernon Crookes lies on the R612 and is best reached via the N2 freeway. Take the Park Rynie/Umzinto fly over and follow the Highflats/Ixopo road. The reserve turnoff is approximately 3kms past the town of Umzinto and 12.5kms from the freeway. The reserve is well signposted from this point
Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve:


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Peter Chadwick
Author: Peter ChadwickWebsite: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
As a dedicated conservationist, Peter Chadwick has 30 years strategic and operational conservation experience in terrestrial and marine protected area management. He has worked within all of the major biomes in southern Africa as well as having provided expert conservation advice at a global level. His conservation and wildlife photography is a natural extension to his conservation work where he has numerous opportunities to capture photographs that showcase the beauty and complexity of the outdoors. Peter’s photography is internationally recognized, with this work appearing globally in a wide range of print and electronic media.