Zululand Birding Route

The Zululand Birding Route is the first BirdLife South Africa avitourism project and has been running for more than a decade, focused on conserving our birds and their habitats by developing and promoting birding tourism (avitourism) in the Northern Kwazulu-Natal region. This is helping conserve birds in Zululand by giving them direct financial value and the project is able to carry out this role of socio economic development and conservation work in Zululand through generous sponsorship from many bodies.

To date the Zululand birding route has trained and mentored more than 35 community bird guides for the route, resulting in 10 full-time tourism/nature related jobs and 18 SMMEs. It has also marketed the area by exhibiting in trade shows nationally and internationally, was selected as a finalist for the Smithsonian Institute sustainable tourism awards in 2003 and made considerable progress developing birding infrastructure in the Northern Kwazulu-Natal region.

With more than 600 species recorded, the Zululand Birding Route is southern Africa’s birding diversity hotspot! A network of 16 self-drive routes offers a range of great birding localities that will thrill the most seasoned birder. For convenience these are grouped into four regions – North East Zululand (Elephant Coast), North West Zululand, Southern Zululand and North Coast Route (Zulu Root).

World-famous birding venues provide forest, grassland, wetland, bushveld, mountains, estuarine, coastline and open ocean habitats, making this southern Africa’s most diverse area for birding. There are 63 Southern African endemic or near-endemic species present, making this region a must on any birders’ wish list.

Eshowe falls under the Southern Zululand region and has three fantastic birding spots: Eshowe provides easy access to a range of superb forest birding, as well as a wide variety of other habitats. The signature locality of this route is the mystical Ongoye Forest, famed for the rare Woodward’s Barbet, which is the logo of the Zululand Birding Route.
1. Dlinza Forest
2. Ongoye Forest
3. Theunissen’s Dam
4. Amatikulu Nature Reserve
5. Dreadnought Walking Trail
6. Ntumeni Forest
7. Goedetrou Dam Road

Accommodation in Eshowe for Birders. Sugar Hill Manor Guesthouse close to the entrance to Dlinza Forest.

Guesthouse in Eshowe near Dlinza Forest entrance. Can arrange guides, picnics and all meals.

Special rates for groups. We have also got a Tented Garden Camp with Gazebbo and cooking area. Enquire Graham.

10 specials to try and spot in Dlinza and Ongoye forests

1. The Fan-tailed Widowbird (Kortstertflap) is a common resident of reedbeds and moist grassland where the males can be seen displaying to the drab females.

2. Most active at dawn and dusk, the Chorister Robin-Chat (Lawaaimakerjanfrederick) is an excellent mimic and copies the sounds of insects and birds, and some of ours.

3. Probably one of the most characteristic birds of African waterways, the African Fish Eagle (Visarend) is found throughout South Africa except in the dry west.

4. A pair of Woolly-necked Storks (Wolnekooievaar) is regularly encountered on the open mud flats at Umlalazi Nature Reserve, where they feed on a variety of crabs, shellfish, amphibians and fish,

5. The Rufous-naped Lark (Rooineklewerik) displays from a perch where it utters a repetitive call and rapidy flaps its wings.

6. The female Thick-billed Weaver (Dikbekwewer) is heavily streaked underneath, while the male is a uniform chocolate brown with white forehead and wing patch.

7. The Mangrove Kingfisher (Manglietvisvanger) is uncommon in wooded coastal rivers and mangroves and is differentiated from the similar looking Woodland Kingfisher by its red bill.

8. The Collared Sunbird (Kortbeksuikerbekkie) is common in dense woodland and coastal and riverine forests.

9. The aptly named Goliath Heron (Reusereier) is the largest of the heron species, standing 1,5m in height.

10. The male and female NarinaTrogon (Bosloerie) may be differentiated by the male’s brighter colouration and emerald head

(11) Buff spotted Flufftail…..spotted near our Guesthouse bird hide recently

Bird Guides recommended.

Bird Guides

Sakhamuzi Mhlongo 083 436 2252

Junior Gabela 082 667 3704

Using Sugar Hill Manor Guesthouse as a base you can cover the Melmoth, Babanango & Mtunzini areas quite easily.

This area is known for its grassy plains and dense natural bush and, with the adjacent valleys and forests, is home to a variety of birds including grassland specialities such as Short-tailed Pipit and Bald Ibis.8. Weni Farm
9. Kortbegrip Farm
10. Nkandla Forest
11. Wintershoek Farm
12. Upata Ranches
13. Mgungundlove Museum Grounds (AMAFU)

Set in endless rolling hills and meandering valleys, this high altitude area offers a number of species not found at the lower altitudes Further down the route.14. The Emakhosini – “Valley of the Kings”
15. Babanango Valley
16. Mangeni Waterfall and Gorge

Mtunzini, with it’s Raffia Palm groves, swamp and coastal dune forest, estuarine mud flats, mangroves and open grassland is home to South Africa’s rarest breeding bird, the Palmnut Vulture, which can be viewed from the Boardwalk trail, the beach and mud flats.17 Mlalazi Nature Reserve

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