Ngome Forest Reserve

Forests / Nature Reserves in or near Nongoma, Zululand in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.

Game Reserves in KwaZulu NatalNgome Forest Reserve

Where? Ngome Forest Reserve, Zululand, KwaZulu Natal

Overnight? Nongoma, KwaZulu Natal

Ngome Forest lies on the southern slopes of high altitude mistbelt grasslands, near the western extremities of Zululand, 70 km east of Vryheid. Here the rolling hills have a climate of their own, and the air is cooler.

The treasure trove that is the Ntendeka Wilderness and Ngome Forest extends across 5 000 hectares of grassland, towering cliff faces and forest. These are the only grasslands in the province that support the endangered blue swallow, who breed here. There are also unusual wild flowers. Countless small streams and rivers criss-cross the floor of Ngome Forest, the result of a high rainfall to the area.

Because it is set in the nether reaches of the province the forest has remained largely untamed. It is described as a fairy tale forest, alive with orchids, ferns and mosses that holds for even those with a remote interest in botany, hours of captivating discovery.

Dripping trees, damp leaves underfoot, effortless giant-leaved streptocarpus and clivias, as well as huge ferns with fronds that extend over two metres along the edges of streams and on the road that leads into the forest, are other of its secrets.

Ngome Forest is alive with uncommon trees that include the threatened Atalaya natalensis, also known as the forest krantz ash or Natal wing-nut. This rare forest tree occurs only in highly specific habitat within isolated forests. There is a healthy sub-population at Ngome.

Samango monkey, bushpig, leopard and baboons live in the forest, whilst the bird life is prolific; the forest and reserve are part of the Zululand Birding Route. Specials include the orange ground thrush and Eastern bronze-naped pigeon, both usually difficult to sight.

Look out for the country's largest butterfly – the emperor swallowtail in the clearings and canopy of the forest. It is virtually the size of a bird.

The Ngome Marian Shrine, known as the Shrine of Our Lady of Ngome, is a shrine dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary near Nongoma. One of the sisters of the Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing was said to experience ten visions between August 1955 and May 1971 in Ngome. It is one of the most popular pilgrim sites in southern Africa.

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