Umbobavango Nature Reserve
Call 031-949-2111 for bookings.
NearAmanzimtoti and featuring two coastal forest trails and a series of shallow high-nutrient dams, this reserve supports a large number of waterfowl and migrant waders during the summer months. Prevalent resident species include the African Crake, Black Crake, Baillon’s Crake, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Black-throated Wattel-eye, Southern Brown-throated Weaver, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird and Grey Waxbill.
Empisini Nature Reserve
Call 039-973-0093 for bookings.
Established near Umkomaas in 1973 and 120-hectare in extent, this wonderful subtropical reserve is named after its perennial stream meaning ‘the place of the hyena’ in Zulu and - amongst others - is home to the following species: Narina Trogon, Spotted Ground-Thrush, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Terrestrial Brownbul, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Black Sparrowhawk, Tambourine Dove and Lemon Dove.
T.C. Robertson Nature Reserve
For info call 039-975-1679.
Situated on the bank of the ‘Mpambanyoni’ (‘Confuser of birds’) River at Scottburgh, this 60-hectare reserve is named after a renowned author, ecologist, conservationist and local resident who spent the last 16 years of his life in the area. Here you can find the African Fish-Eagle, Water Thick-knee, Little Rush Warbler, Terrestrial Brownbul, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Red-capped Robin-Chat, White-starred Robin, Spotted Ground-Thrush, Barratt’s Warbler, African Goshawk, African Harrier-Hawk and Black Sparrowhawk. Booking is unnecessary.
Vernon Crooke’s Nature Reserve
Situated inland near Scottburgh this reserve covers some 2189-hectare and, ranging from 150 to 600 metres above sea level, is one of the most important coastal grassland and forest reserves along the KZN South Coast. Resident species include the African Crowned Eagle, Martial Eagle, Lemon Dove, Eurasian Hobby, Narina Trogon, Brown Scrub-Robin, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Black-bellied Starling, Green Twinspot, Red-winged Francolin, Broad-tailed Warbler, Short-tailed Pipit, Lazy Cisticola, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Pale-crowned Cisticola, Mountain Wagtail and African Pygmy-Kingfisher. For more information and bookings
For more information call 039-975-1320
One of South Africa’s best kept birding secrets; Umdoni (name of the large water-berry trees found along the estate’s watercourses and swampy areas) affords truly outstanding coastal forest birding opportunities. Situated in Pennington, just south of Scottburgh, the species likely to be encountered are the Spotted Ground-Thrush, White-starred Robin, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler, Lemon Dove, African Emerald Cuckoo, Narina Trogon, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Brown Scrub-Robin, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike, Southern Tchagra, Black-bellied Starling, Grey Sunbird, Green Twinspot and White-eared Barbet.
The Uvongo River Nature Reserve
No special arrangements are necessary, so come as and when you like.
Measuring just 28-hectare in extent, this important reserve protects the riparian strip along both sides of Uvongo’s ‘Vungu’ River, so named by the Zulus for the sound of the winds rushing through its steep-sided gorges. Walking trails through the lush riverine forest provide easy access to numerous species, including the Green-backed Heron, African Finfoot, African Black Duck, Wahlberg’s Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, African Wood Owl, Tambourine Dove, Spotted Ground-Thrush, Brown Scrub-Robin, Grey Sunbird, Purple-banded Sunbird, Grey Waxbill and Buff-spotted Flufftail.
Mpenjati Public Resort Nature Reserve
Call 033-845-1000 for information and bookings.
Encompassing the Mpenjati River Estuary and surrounding area, this 66-hectare reserve links the coastal dune forest to the lagoon and beach. Among the resident species you can find the Half-collared Kingfisher, Water Thick-knee, Osprey, Swift Tern, African Black Oystercatcher, Kittlitz’s Plover, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Brown Scrub-Robin, White-browed Scrub-Robin, Black-backed Puffback, Green Twinspot, Black-crowned Tchagra, Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike and Grey-headed Bush-Shrike.
Umtamvuna Nature Reserve
Call 039-311-1932 for information and bookings.
Situated near Port Edward and bordering the Eastern Cape, this is KZN’s most southerly reserve. Flanking the mighty Umtamvuna River - Zulu for “the reaper of mouthfuls” – this 3247-hectare reserve starts just 3km from the coast and stretches over 20km inland. Crisscrossed by streams, that through time have formed magnificent gorges, the terrain provides some really breathtaking views. Here you are likely to find Wing-snapping and Pale-crowned Cisticolas, Croaking, African Crowned Eagle, Green Twinspot, Grey Waxbill, Grey Sunbird, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike, Golden-tailed Woodpecker and the Common Cuckoo.
The following five reserves are all a 40- to 60-minutes drive inland from Port Shepstone.
Oribi Conservancy / (NPC - CIMPOR)
Call 039-687-8904 for bookings
Situated in the Mzimkulwana River valley, this is virtually an extension of the Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve, though its climate and more open valley bushveld type terrain is slightly drier. Species to be found here include the Knysna Woodpecker, African Finfoot, African Emerald Cuckoo, Grey Cuckooshrike, Striped Pipit, Narina Trogon, African Pygmy-Kingfisher, Lemon Dove, Forest Buzzard, White-starred Robin, Mountain Wagtail, African Crowned Eagle, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Southern Tchagra and Grey Sunbird.
Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve
Call 033-845-1000 for information and bookings
One of the most scenic and easily accessible birding sites in southern KwaZulu-Natal, this 1837-hectare reserve encompasses a 24 km stretch of gorge along the Mzimkulwana River. A winding tarred road down one side, alongside the river and then up the other side allows easy access to a large section of the reserve. Resident species include the African Broadbill, Olive Woodpecker, Knysna Woodpecker, African Finfoot, Striped Pipit, Narina Trogon, African Pygmy-Kingfisher, African Wood-Owl, Forest Buzzard, Cape Vulture, Mountain Wagtail, Gurney’s Sunbird, Southern Tchagra and Brown Scrub-Robin.
. Lake Eland Game Reserve
Call 083-257-9468 for information and bookings.
Also sited along the Mzimkulwana River, this 5000-hectare private reserve features a blend of high open rolling grassy hills, typical lower valley bushveld vegetation and a large dam. Known as Hell’s Gate the area consists of a deep gorge, guarded on both sides by spectacular towering cliffs. Resident species include the Lazy Cisticola, African Crowned Eagle, Cape Longclaw, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Striped Pipit, Narina Trogon, African Pygmy-Kingfisher, Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike, Southern Tchagra, Black-bellied Starling, Eastern Olive Sunbird, Cape Grassbird, Rufous-naped Lark, Streaky-headed Seedeater, Red-winged Francolin and Shelley’s Francolin.
It is not necessary to make prior arrangements with the dam’s owner.
Surrounded by well-grazed grassland, this relatively extensive stretch of water features shallows and reed beds. Resident species include the South African Shelduck, African Black Duck, Cape Teal, Hottentot Teal, Red-billed Teal, Cape Shoveler, Spotted Thick-knee,African Marsh-Harrier, Red-winged Francolin, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Zitting Cisticola and Wailing Cisticola.
For information and bookings, call 039-553-0600.
80km inland and about 1250 to 1550 metres above sea level, this is one of the largest and most accessible tracts of Afromontane mist-belt forest in KwaZulu-Natal. A prime site for the much sought after Cape Parrot, the reserve’s excellent trail system affords easy access to large parts of the forest. Other residents include the Orange Ground-Thrush, Bush Blackcap, African Olive-Pigeon, Narina Trogon, Crowned Hornbill, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler, Blu-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Olive Bush-Shrike, Southern Double-collared Sunbird and Green Twinspot.
As many sites are privately owned, or require special permits, it is advisable to enquire and arrange bookings well in advance. Useful contacts: +