The key parks and reserves of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife…
Tembe Elephant Park
This remote reserve inland of Kosi Bay is managed in conjunction with the local community and harbours all the Big Five. It is renowned above all for its population of 250 elephants, which include some of the largest tuskers ever recorded in South Africa.
Ndumo Game Reserve
Cited as South Africa’s single most exciting birdwatching site, Ndumo protects the lush Phongolo and Usuthu floodplains together with a network of seasonal waterways and perennial pans lined with fever trees. Its checklist of 430 bird species includes African broadbill, Neergard’s sunbird, pink-throated twinspot, Pel’s fishing owl and pygmy goose.
Phongolo Game Reserve
Gazetted in 1895, this is one of Africa’s oldest conservation areas. It protects a tract of classic African bush inhabited by elephant, white and black rhino, buffalo, hippo, leopard, crocodile, antelope and 350-plus bird species.
Mkhuze Game Reserve
This annexe to iSimangaliso Wetland Park is renowned for its photographic hides, which give access to a steady stream of wildlife – such as white rhino, nyala, zebra and occasionally elephant, black rhino and leopard – during the dry season. It’s a birdwatcher’s heaven.
Ithala Game Reserve
Ithala protects a series of ancient hills running north from the rugged Ngotshe cliffs to the meandering Phongolo River. The inspirational scenery is complemented by some excellent game viewing – both types of rhino are common – and the cliffside Ntshondwe Resort is a reliable spot for nocturnal sightings of bushbabies and genets.
Chelmsford Nature Reserve
This reserve offers guided, self-drive or walking safaris into a game park stocked with endemic and near-endemic wildlife such as springbok, blesbok and red hartebeest, as well as the elusive oribi antelope.
Spioenkop Nature Reserve
Scenic Spioenkop protects a pretty acacia-fringed dam at the base of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg. Walking and horseback trails offer the opportunity to get close to white rhino, giraffe and various antelope. It is overlooked by Spioenkop Hill, site of an important Anglo-Boer War battlefield.
Wagendrift Nature Reserve
This low-key reserve near the base of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg is traversed by a walking trail from where a variety of antelope as well as 200 bird species might be seen.
Midmar Nature Reserve
Centred on the Midmar Dam in the midlands between Howick and Pietermaritzburg, this recreational reserve is popular with watersports enthusiasts.
Himeville Nature Reserve
This small pedestrian-friendly reserve at the base of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg is home to the endemic black wildebeest and blesbok antelope and a reliable site for the endangered wattled and blue cranes.
Mount Currie Nature Reserve
Birdwatching, rambling and angling are on offer at this scenic reserve protecting a mosaic of undulating grassland, Afromontane forest and Protea scrub on the cool slopes of the 2224m-high Mount Currie.
Umtamvuna Nature Reserve
Set along the Eastern Cape border in southern KwaZulu-Natal, this small but ruggedly scenic reserve protects a forested gorge carved by the Umtamvuna River and a cliffside breeding colony of the endangered Cape vulture.
Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve
This staggeringly beautiful canyon, carved by the Mzimkulwana River, is accessible by road or on walking trails. Its forested cliffs are home to samango monkey, bushbuck and forest birds such as the Knysna loerie.
Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve
The most important protected area on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal protects a mosaic of grassland, forest and wetland habitats. A network of roads and walking trails offers the opportunity to see zebra, half-a-dozen antelope species, and some of its 300-plus recorded bird species.
Harold Johnson Nature Reserve
Set on the south bank of the Thukela, South Africa’s second-largest river, this biodiverse reserve protects zebra, bushbuck, impala, blue and red duiker, almost 200 bird and more than 100 butterfly species.
Amatigulu Nature Reserve
Situated between the Tugela and Amatigulu river-mouths, this low-key reserve provides the chance to see giraffe, zebra and various antelope feeding on forested dunes overlooking the sea. Activities include walking trails, canoeing, a 4WD trail, and birdwatching.
Umlalazi Nature Reserve
The highlight of this small beachfront reserve is a mangrove walkway from where you can glimpse several species unique to this intertidal habitat, notably the amphibious mud-skipper fish, beautiful mangrove kingfisher and asymmetrically clawed fiddler crab.
Dhlinza Forest Reserve
Set in the heart of Eshowe town, Dhlinza protects the country’s most accessible patch of mist-belt forest and associated wildlife such as the diminutive blue duiker, which is often seen from a 125m-long aerial boardwalk.
Ongoye Forest Reserve
Primarily of interest to birdwatchers, Ongoye is the only stronghold of Woodward’s barbet, which is endemic to KZN. Other avian highlights are Narina trogon, spotted ground thrush and African crowned eagle.
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