Ongoye is regarded as one of the 'gems' along the Zululand Birding Route for its rather impressive 605 bird species, particularly the rare Woodward's barbet or green barbet, which is reputedly only found in one place in the world – Ongoye Forest.
It is not the bird life alone that draws visitors to this lush reserve but also the beauty of the forest that lies at the top of the list in KwaZulu-Natal in terms of biodiversity conservation, and is inhabited by ancient cycads, epiphytic ferns, orchids, and other rare plants.
Until recently Ongoye was only accessible to a select few tourists in possession of a 4x4 vehicle. Today a road upgrade has resulted in broader access but you need a permit to visit the forest and a minimal gate fee and community levy is charged on entry.
The special 'quality' of the reserve could suffer as a result of opening up to greater tourism, although a community project that involves the rural and poor community that uses this forest as their main natural resource means an improvement in their socio-economic development.
The almost velvet-like grassy hills appear intermittently amongst the dense forest, occupied by tall trees that achieve 30 metres in height, and all 3903 hectares of the reserve lie on a ridge of hills overlooking the Indian Ocean. Rocky granite outcrops, covered lichen rock domes and bushy clumps are also home to the forest's endemic Ngoye red squirrel.
Other animals include samango monkeys, baboon, mongooses, bushbabies and the elusive blue duiker. The Zululand dwarf chameleon is easy to spot, whilst the forest is also home to a unique green butterfly.
Popular Attractions near Ongoye Forest Reserve
Route 66 Zululand Heritage Route
Zululand's Route 66 traces the path of transport riders, missionaries, soldiers, settlers and farmers as they made their way inland. It also explores the incredible clashes that took place here - the tribal wars of the early 1800s, the Voortrekker...
More info and contact details: Route 66 Zululand Heritage Route
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Contact the Zululand Birding Route on Telephone +27 (0)83 225-5960.
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