KwaZulu Natal Tourist AttractionsZululand Birding Route
Where? Includes north east, north west and southern Zululand, KwaZulu Natal.
KwaZulu-Natal is a world-famous birding venue, its forests, grasslands, mountains, wetlands, bushveld and estuarine, coastline and open ocean habitats a feast of diverse birding.
The coastal province is divided into two main birding routes - the Southern KwaZulu-Natal Birding Route, and the Zululand Birding Route.
Running now for over 10 years the Zululand Birding Route is BirdLife South Africa's first avitourism project. It has trained and mentored over 35 community bird guides and conserves the over 600 recorded species of South African Birdlife in what is considered southern Africa's birding diversity hotspot.
By taking part in the route, you help conserve birds and create awareness of their value to the province.
The area's specials include the green barbet, Pel's fishing owl, the palmnut vulture, Neergard's sunbird and the pink-throated twinspot.
The route has three sub-routes:
The Elephant Coast (North East Zululand)
The Elephant Coast is so rich with bird life that it is further sub-divided into five routes – iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Hluhluwe, uMkhuze, Sodwana and Tongaland. Each of these areas is totally unique in character and each has its own set of specials.
North West Zululand
This region includes a diversity of habitats and is home to about 500 species of birds. Well known for its wetlands, rolling hills and a variety of big five game reserves, you will also find 58 of the country's endemic and near endemic birds in this area's grasslands and wetlands. The route is also further subdivided into five birding areas: Louwsberg (including the Ithala Game Reserve), Pongola (including the Hlatikulu Forest), Ulundi, Umfolozi (all within the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park) and Vryheid.
Starting between Mtunzini and Richards Bay this route is regarded as the major forest birding route. It moves inland through estuarine swamp forest and up to coastal forest in the foothills of Eshowe, where there are numerous forested areas like the Nogoye Forest and many self-guided hiking trails. The region includes swamp forest, dune forest, scarp forest and the mistbelt forests of Nkandla.
The route is also further sub-divided into four birding areas: Eshowe, Melmoth, Mtunzini (including the Ongoye Forest) and Richards Bay (one of the top waterbird areas).