Dlinza Forest Nature Reserve, KwaZulu Natal
Found just outside the little town of Eshowe, the Dlinza Forest is one of two indigenous forests that lie close to one another in this southern part of Zululand; the other is Entumeni.
Dlinza, 250-hectares of incredibly beautiful forest bisected by numerous walking trails and a 10-metre high aerial boardwalk, is extremely popular with bird lovers, has good picnic facilities, and is particularly special considering the urban environment in which the forest exists.
For those who want to remain in the car, and miss the opportunity of sighting the Dlinza Forest Pinwheel, a snail that only occurs here and is the forest's most endangered species, then the Royal Drive passes through the centre of the reserve and offers a quick alternative to the average day trip. Here for the day, Dlinza easily becomes the playground of children who delight in climbing along the wooded walkway to spot monkeys and birds and exploring the forest.
Eshowe is at the heart of the Zululand Birding Route, no surprise when you consider the rarities at Dlinza such as the spotted thrush and Delegorgue's pigeon. But really it is the butterflies that take centre stage, particularly in Autumn when 70 or so recorded species that include the mocker swallowtail, mother of pearl and the gaudy commodore, take to the air and provide a lightness and dash of colour to Dlinza that is hard to beat.
The forest trail leads from the picnic sites on the western side of the forest and offers roughly two hours' through the forest accompanied by bird calls. And if you venture here at the best time of the day early mornings a chorus of frogs, cicadas and other insects will accompany you on your journey.