Down the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal you'll cross the iVungu River at Uvongo, where the Uvongo River Nature Reserve was established to protect an array of riverine birds. Rare species found here include the grey sunbird, purple-banded sunbird and grey waxbill.

Did you know?

The buff-spotted flufftail, sometimes heard but seldom seen, is endemic to the Uvongo River Nature Reserve.

The 28-hectare Uvongo River Nature Reserve on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal flanks the iVungu River, not far from where it plummets steeply to meet the Indian Ocean.

The reserve falls within the environs of popular seaside town Uvongo, famous for its gorge and a waterfall that drops 23m into one of the deepest lagoons in the country.

Uvongo is a popular swimming and surfing beach, with large rock formations that provide a great vantage point for visitors simply wishing to take in the view or anglers looking to land a big one. Pedal boats may be hired to explore the upper reaches of the river.

Easily accessible walking trails along both riverbanks extend upstream from the Uvongo Beach Lodge on the north bank and from the Thure Lilliecrona Park on the south bank, providing easy access to the riverine forest that's a popular south coast birding spot.

Bring your bird checklist along and you’ll be able to tick off most of these feathered species: Green-backed heron; African finfoot; African black duck; Wahlberg's eagle; African crowned eagle; African fish eagle; African wood-owl; tambourine dove; purple-crested turaco; narina trogon; spotted ground-thrush; brown scrub-robin; and yellow-bellied greenbul.

Some of the lesser-known birds found here, which you will have to be very patient and observant to spot, include the grey sunbird, purple-banded sunbird and grey waxbill.

Bird lovers should also make a point of visiting the adjacent Uvongo Bird Park, which has walk-through aviaries. A but further down the coast lies the Umtamvuna River Gorge in Port Edward, where vultures can be seen soaring above the cliffs.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

South Coast Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)39 682 7944

Hibiscus Coast Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)39 682 7944
Fax: +27 (0)39 682 1034

How to get here

The Uvongo River Nature Reserve lies 130km south of Durban. Take the N2 south and head toward Port Shepstone. Between Port Shepstone and Margate, the road passes over a bridge spanning the iVungu River. The reserve stretches upstream from this bridge. Cross the bridge to the south bank, then turn in at the first road to the right.

Around the area

The Shell Museum, with the biggest display of seashells in South Africa, is across the road from the Shelly Centre in adjacent Shelly Beach. Just inland lies the Oribi Gorge, a spectacular destination featuring a bungee jump and swing that’s not for the faint of heart.

What will it cost

Entry is free.

What to pack

It can get very hot in the area, especially in summer, so take ample sun protection and water along. And don't forget the binoculars, camera and birding checklist.

Where to stay

Uvongo is a holiday resort town boasting numerous B&Bs, holiday apartments, guesthouses, hotels and lodges.

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