KwaZulu Natal DestinationsMkuze, Elephant Coast
The little village of Mkuze lies in the shadow of the Ubombo Mountains just 18 km west from the entrance gate of the Mkhuze Game Reserve on the N2 north of Lake St Lucia.
In this remote north eastern wilderness of Southern Africa, human presence is felt less and vast plantations of scrubland, freshwater pans and lakes form sanctuaries for rare plants, hippos, turtles and crocodiles. Summer temperatures soar and winters are mild and, although the Mkuze Game Reserve tends to be overshadowed by the Hluhluwe and Umfolozi reserves, this area is worth a visit for the amazing variety of bird and animal life and the incredible range of plant species - over 700 - as well as the different reptile and amphibian species sheltered in the park.
Wildlife in Mkhuze Game Reserve includes the big Five including lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino to rare species such as wild dog, suni, leopard and hyena.
Mkhuze Game Reserve now forms part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (previously known as Greater St Lucia Wetland Park) with over 360 km² of land. It was proclaimed a protected area in 1912 and is a birdlife mecca with around 450 identified species of bird in the area. Mkuze’s landscape is one of contrasts - primarily flat, dry sandy dunes, some of which are over 2 million years old.
There are also water pans, a river gorge embedded with marine fossils and a thick acacia forest. A rare giant fig tree forest lies on the banks of the Mkuze River, which curves along the northern and eastern borders of the reserve.
There are five pans throughout the park. Three of these - the Kubube, Kamasinga and Kwamalibala - are set up with viewing hides to provide some of the best game viewing in South Africa, especially during the drier months when these waterholes attract large numbers of game.
The Hhlonhlela and Nsumo pans further north in the park are home to communities of hippo, crocodile and white and pink backed pelicans.
Just outside the reserve is the legendary Ghost Mountain. The mountain is steeped in legend, which claims that the site witnessed a number of fierce Zulu battles and is also said to be the place where bodies of the previous chiefs of the Ndwandwe clan have been laid to rest in secret caves along it’s base.
Please note, this is a low malaria risk area but precautions should be taken when travelling to the region.