Durban and surrounds – Krantzkloof Nature Reserve

About the Birding

Krantzkloof is a large and well-known reserve situated west of Durban in the suburb of Kloof, named for the deep gorges formed by the Molweni and Nqutu Rivers. The reserve itself covers around 600 hectares and rises in altitude from 10m above sea level in the east, to almost 500m above sea level at the crest of ridges. The area is dominated by the spectacular gorges, densely vegetated valleys and sheer cliffs with patches of more open grassland and Protea scrub on the crests of the surrounding hilltops.

The north-facing slopes are considerably drier in the rain-shadow and tend to be dominated by dry mixed bushveld. Still quite common in the coastal scarp forest is the Forest Cycad, while many specimens of the Natal Cycad grow on the rocky slopes and cliff faces. The forested valleys are richly endowed with flowering plants of many species, with the Streptocarpus family being particularly well represented. One of the large species is S. molweniensis after which the Molweni River was named.

Birdlife in the Krantzkloof is rich and abundant. Several pairs of Crowned Eagle nest within the forested sections, preying on the abundant Rock Hyrax and Vervet Monkeys. Krantzkloof is also among one of the better sites in all of KwaZulu-Natal to search for the shy and diminutive Green Twinspot. Search for this species in quiet areas of the reserve, where forest grasses are in seed, and listen for their high-pitched and frequently uttered contact calls. Key forest species include the Grey Cuckooshrike, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Forest Canary, Lemon Dove, Olive Woodpecker, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Red-capped Robin-chat, Narina Trogon, and Collared Sunbird. Spotted Ground Thrush, White-starred Robin, Barratt’s Warbler, and Chorister Robin-chat are all seasonal visitors between the months of April and September. Magpie Mannikin has been recorded and is typically associated with stands of bamboo. Other shy residents of the forest include the Buff-spotted Flufftail and African Broadbill, both of which are regularly heard calling at dawn and dusk in the summer months.

Grassland and protea scrub in the higher sections of the reserve may yield Sentinel Rock Thrush, Croaking and Rattling Cisticola, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, and occasionally Red-winged Francolin. Gurney’s Sugarbird is nomadic through this area, appearing when proteas come to flower. Overhead, watch for a variety of raptors potentially including Peregrine Falcon, African Cuckoo-hawk, Long-crested Eagle and Black Sparrowhawk.

Key species:

Green Twinspot, Magpie Mannikin, African Crowned Eagle, Chorister Robin-chat, Buff-spotted Flufftail

About the Birding Site

The eThekwini Metropolitan Area (Durban) is a major harbour city situated on the east coast of South Africa. It serves as the most accessible port of entry into the KwaZulu-Natal province with daily flights to all other major cities in South Africa, and further afield (e.g. Mauritius, Dubai). The city and surrounding towns are popular among holidaymakers, given the sub-tropical climate and extensive beaches along the rich waters of the Indian Ocean. Moreover, the city falls within a global biodiversity hotspot – the Maputaland-Pondolona-Albany (MPA) Hotspot.

This region is home to more than 7000 species of plant, more than 25% of which are found nowhere else on Earth. The variety of landforms and sub-tropical climatic conditions, combined with its unique biogeographical position, have resulted in a range of aquatic (wetlands, rivers, estuaries) and terrestrial (mainly forests and coastal grasslands) environments which additionally support a plethora of interesting bird, mammal, reptile and amphibian species. The eThekwini area contains three of South Africa’s eight biomes (namely savanna, forest and grasslands), and supports more than 2000 plant species, 82 terrestrial mammals, 69 reptiles, 25 endemic invertebrates and well over 500 bird species – making it South Africa’s most biodiverse city, by far. To be expected then, the region offers a variety of prime birding spots featuring a number of South Africa’s most sought-after bird species. Top among these are the Spotted Ground Thrush, Mangrove Kingfisher, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Green Malkoha, and Knysna Woodpecker. Durban is also well known for its variety of waders and marine species, often turning up rarities such as the Lesser Black-backed Gull. Key sites within the eThekwini Metropolitan Area include Tala Game Reserve, Pigeon Valley and Krantzkloof Nature Reserves, Durban Bay Head and the Durban National Botanical Gardens.

In addition, as a further attraction to this rich region, the eThewkini Natural Science Museum has world-class ornithological displays and collections.

Key species:

Green Twinspot, Magpie Mannikin, African Crowned Eagle, Chorister Robin-chat, Buff-spotted Flufftail

Other Related Information

Head west from Durban along the N3 in the direction of Pinetown. Just after the top of Field’s Hill, take the Village Road exit and turn right at the T-junction to cross the highway. Continue along this road, turn right at the next T-junction and cross the railway. From here, follow the signs to Krantzkloof Nature Reserve along Kloof Falls Road.

Notable points of interest include the:
Main entrance: -29.7718, 30.83043

Other related information:

Access and facilities:
The Reserve is under the control of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and there are several entrances with a well-maintained network of trails and several picnic sites. An interpretive centre is located opposite the main picnic site on Bridle Road above the main falls. Access to some parts of the reserve is restricted and there are limits to the number of visitors allowed into the picnic sites at any one time. A nominal entrance fee is payable and maps are available upon request. Safe parking and toilet facilities are available.

Recommended accommodation nearby:
A number of Birder Friendly Establishments are available within the wider eThekwini Metropolitan Area including Camperdown/Kloof/Pietermaritzburg.

For more information, view:

Local guide information:
No community bird guides are currently available within the wider eThekwini Metropolitan Area.

Text prepared by:
Daniel Keith Danckwerts (Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Tours)

Key species:

Green Twinspot, Magpie Mannikin, African Crowned Eagle, Chorister Robin-chat, Buff-spotted Flufftail

Contact details:

For more information, contact:

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Tel: +27 (0)31 764 3515