"THE AMBERS" - HOWICK - DAY HIKE SUN 17 APRIL 2016 - LEADER KEITH ASHTON

Report and photos courtesy of Keith Ashton

[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]



Although the "Ambers," Amber Valley", "Amber Ridge" & "Amber Lakes" are fairly new residential areas in Howick, the largest portion of the areas within the estates is left untouched & where the many wild animals can roam freely. Also well over 200 different species of birds have been officially recorded & a recent addition is the provision of a bird hide next to one of the many dams.

So we were able to do this 10 km walk with over 95% of it being away from any constructed road & some of it off-the-beaten track. We had 10 participants, namely Ansie, Jerry, Biby & her daughter Jo, Julia, Gill, Christie, Margaret, Keith & Beatrix our newest member from Chile.

From our house in Amber Valley we set off keeping to the fence-line between "Amber Valley" & "Amber Lee" (we did not include "Amber Lee" this time on our walk as building construction is still underway in this area). After a while we reached our first steepish climb off-the-beaten track with a little bit of scrambling, but no trouble & once our group had got their breath back at the top we were able to take-in the lovely views over Amber Ridge & into the Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve.

Soon after this we had our fairly close sighting of several zebra & plenty of blesbok (we have nearly 50 blesbok within Amber Valley). We continued along the fence-line between Amber Valley & Kwa-Wula & eventually made our way down to Falcon Dam, which is stocked with trout & is a very scenic area & favourite fishing spot for members of A.V. fishing club. From here we continued around the large dam & down into a valley before rising again (seeing many impala on our way) to walk along the other side of the dam & eventually into "Amber Ridge". then climbing up the next hill to the highest point of both estates. Then it was along the fence-line between "Amber Ridge" & "Kwa-Wula" with several ups & downs as we headed in the direction of Karkloof Road.



1. Reaching the top of the first real climb - Amber Ridge below & Umgeni Valley beyond
2. Taking a breather - Julia nearest & next our newest member from Chile Beatrix
3. A few of the many animals in Amber Valley
4. A few more of the animals - impala in this case
5. Making our way up the ridge of Amber Ridge
6. A close-up of Bibbi, Gill & Ansie - Amber Valley to left & Amber Ridge Right
7. Jerry, Bibby & Ansie near the middle gate between AR & AV
8. Beatrix trying her best to remove all the blackjacks
9. Three smiling ladies, Margaret, Christie & Julia

Once at the fence-line between "Amber Ridge" & Karkloof Road we made our way back towards "Amber Valley" spotting a couple of warthogs on the way. Then in "Amber Valley" we had a very short section along Ridge Road before dropping down into the lovely "Serval Valley" which we named after seeing a lovely serval which spent several weeks in this area. Well down into serval valley we had a rest & lunch at a lovely spot next to a small stream.

From here we reached an old farm track which we descended & then walked behind the croquet lawn, tennis courts, bowling green & the two indoor swimming pools towards Karkloof Road again. After further around the next perimeter fence adjacent to Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve & past "Freeme" (the animal & bird rehabilitation facility) we eventually returned to our house after our 10 km walk in "The Ambers". Well done to Christie for completing her longest walk for a long time - we know you will keep it up with your determination.

Thanks to all our participants for your friendly companionship during our walk - here's to the next time.

Keith



10. Lunch time in serval valley
11. Jerry, Gill & Beatrix enjoying lunch
12. Julia recharging her batteries
13. A thoughtful Jerry with his banana
14. Christie just got a mouthful
15. Jo, Biiby's daughter, Bibi & Ansie chilling before we are off again
16. A colourful group photo without the leader

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