The Ongoye Forest’s ancient cycads and other rare plants, as well as its unparalleled birdlife, make it a must-visit for any nature lover. Wind your way through this unique strip of lush land on hiking trails while keeping an eye out for rare birds found only here.

Did you know?

The Ongoye Forest is also home to the rare Ngoye red squirrel which is endemic to the area.

The Ongoye Forest Reserve stretches along the coast of Zululand between the small towns of Eshowe, Empangeni and Mtunzini, approximately 150 kilometres from Durban.

A bird watchers paradise, the forest shelters an impressive 605 different species of our feathered friends, many of them rare and endemic, amid lush forest punctuated by open grassland. It is the only place in Southern Africa where the rare green barbet (Stactolaema olivacea) can be seen.

The 3900-hectare forest is incredibly rich in plant life ranging from temperate to tropical climate varieties. The endemic animal, bird and plant life are among this KwaZulu-Natal forest's great attractions and visitors can feast their eyes on massive, near-extinct Wood's cycads and Pondoland fig trees.

Feathered treasures are the highlight here though, and the diversity of terrain means you’ll spot raptors above the tree canopy, ground hornbills in the grasslands, and anything from threatened spotted ground-thrushes to rarely seen Narina trogons along trails through the forest.

Nature lovers can explore the area by 4x4 or meander their way through this lush environment on foot with an experienced guide. En route, look out for Samango monkeys, baboons, mongooses, thick-tailed bush babies, dwarf chameleons, and the elusive blue duiker.

This forest in KwaZulu-Natal is unique in that it provides virtually unrestricted access to unspoiled natural bounty. Visitors can help to maintain this valuable eco-system by taking special care not to damage the environment.

The community surrounding the forest use it as a primary resource and they are actively involved in helping protect and maintain the natural beauty and value of this incredible forest. Bird lovers will be hard pressed to find a more diverse and amazing environment to indulge their passion.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Zululand Birding Route
Tel: +27 (0)83 225 5960
Email: guides@zululandbirdingroute.co.za

How to get here

It's best to contact the Zululand Birding Route for directions as there is no clearly marked signage to the forest. The forest is approximately 150 kilometres from Durban.

Best time to visit

Any time of year.

Get around

Guided hiking or 4x4 tours are the best way to get around the Ongoye Forest.

What will it cost

A permit is not required to visit the forest. Local guides are available. Rates are not standard so ask upfront.

Length of stay

A full day minimum, longer if you are an avid bird watcher.

What to pack

A hat, plenty of sunscreen, binoculars and sturdy walking shoes.

Where to stay

There is limited accommodation available at the Ongoye Forest Birders Camp (contact Zululand Birding Route to make a reservation). The surrounding area offers a variety of lodges and B&Bs.