Zululand Birding Route
Did you know?
South Africa’s largest diversity of butterflies are also found in the Zululand region.
The Zululand Birding Route provides twitchers and casual birders alike access to southern Africa's most diverse and popular birding region.
Thanks to the diversity of habitats found here – coastal, estuarine, grassland, bushveld, wetland, forest, woodland, cliff, gorge and valley – Zululand teems with birds: more than 600 different species are found in the region.
The mighty Tugela River lies at the heart of Zululand, which stretches from Kranskop inland and Tinley Manor along the coast, past Umvoti and Zinkwazi in the south, to Amatikulu in the north. A choice of 16 routes provides access to the various habitats and sought-after birds such as the swamp nightjar, mangrove kingfisher and African finfoot.
From the warm coast of Zululand, between Mtunzini and Richards Bay, the southern Zululand route moves inland through estuarine swamp forest up to coastal scarp forest in the foothills of Eshowe, including the Ngoye Forest. This is where you'll find a real special - the green barbet.
A section of mist belt extends to thornveld cliffs where lanner falcon, southern bald ibis and rock kestrel breed. On foot in the forest you're likely to see blue duiker, while in the canopy samango and vervet monkeys share their spoils with bronze-naped pigeons and trumpeter hornbills.
Bounded by the Lebombo mountain range to the west and the Indian Ocean to the east is northern Zululand, with its broad-leaved woodland, seasonal pans and coastal floodplains. Here the iSimangaliso World Heritage Site offers birders access to over 420 species.
St Lucia is also popular for self-guided trails and hides. Habitats here are also varied, from the estuary and its floodplains and pans to dune forest, sand forest, coastal thickets, mangroves and grassland.
The Mkuze, Ndumo and Tembe game reserves are world-renowned birding destinations where the shy sand forest specials such as pink-throated twinspot, African broadbill, Neergard's sunbird and Rudd's apalis may be seen.