North-east Zululand (Elephant Coast) – Falaza Game Park

About the Birding

Situated near False Bay on the western shores of Lake St. Lucia, Falaza Game Park comprises roughly 800 hectares of pristine sand forest, bushveld, riverine forest, grassland and wetland supporting well in excess of 300 species.

Perhaps the main attraction is the large area of pristine sand forest which supports the localized Pink-throated Twinpost and Rudd’s Apalis; two of South Africa’s most sought after near-endemics. The Neergaard’s Sunbird is present and is best detected by its distinctive call, quite unlike the other co-occurring sunbird species within this habitat.

Other notable forest specials include the aptly-named Gorgeous Bush-shrike, Eastern Nicator, Narina Trogon, African Broadbill, Dark-backed Weaver, Red-capped Robin-chat, Bearded Scrub-robin and Crested Guineafowl. Seeding forest grasses attract the shy Grey Waxbill and Green Twinspot. Grasslands and palm savannahs are also productive and could deliver both the Lemon-breasted Canary and the threatened Orange-breasted Waxbill. The scarce Shelley’s Francolin is present and is often heard calling in the early morning. Thornveld and bushveld habitats should be checked for Burnt-necked and Yellow-bellied Eremomelas, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Long-billed Crombec and Golden-breasted Bunting.

Key species:

Pink-throated Twinspot, Lemon-breasted Canary, Gorgeous Bush-shrike, Rudd’s Apalis, Neergaard’s Sunbird

About the Birding Site

The Zululand Birding Route in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa was the first of BirdLife South Africa’s avitourism projects and has now been running for nearly two decades. The specific objectives of this project were to promote birding tourism within northern KwaZulu-Natal, which in turn would assist in helping to conserve the birds of Zululand by giving them direct financial value. To date the birding route has trained and mentored over 35 community bird guides, making considerable progress in developing the birding infrastructure within the region.

With more than 600 species recorded, this region is also by far southern Africa’s richest birding hotspot featuring a high diversity of endemic and range-restricted species. Thus, in the interest of birding routes, the region is divided into four main regions altogether including a network of 16 self-drive routes that will thrill even the most seasoned of birders. These groupings are as follows: north-east Zululand (Elephant Coast), north-west Zululand, Southern Zululand and North Coast (Zulu Root) routes.
The north-east Zululand (Elephant Coast) route is arguably the richest route within the greater Zululand region, featuring five key bird areas as follows: Hluhluwe, iSimangaliso (St Lucia), Mkhuze, Sodwana, and Tongaland. Each of these subdivisions has its own unique character and set of special bird species though, collectively, these are widely regarded as the richest bird watching areas anywhere in South Africa.
Hluhluwe derives its name from a river, which in turn was named after the thorny monkey rope called umHluhluwe. The region is perhaps best known for the Hluhulwe-Umfolozi Park, which has been internationally acclaimed for its efforts to conserve Zululand’s rich biodiversity. Featuring the ‘Big 5’ and rated as one of the top wildlife destinations anywhere in South Africa, the Hluhulwe-Umfolozi Park also supports an incredible diversity of habitats and well over 350 bird species. Moreover, the nearby Bonamazi Game Park and the reserves on the western shores of Lake St. Lucia (False Bay Park and Falaza Game Park) offer abundant water and forest birding with great walking trails and breath-taking scenery. Understandably then, this is one of the busiest tourism areas in all of KwaZulu-Natal featuring an abundance of top-quality accommodation facilities ranging from peaceful camping sites through to luxury 5-star rated game lodges. Most sites are easily accessible, and many species are common across all the reserves within this sub-route, though several days are recommended to maximise the chances of seeing all top specials.

Key species:

Pink-throated Twinspot, Lemon-breasted Canary, Gorgeous Bush-shrike, Rudd’s Apalis, Neergaard’s Sunbird

Other Related Information

Directions:
Heading north from Durban, take the Hluhluwe off-ramp from the N2 highway and proceed through the village to the T-junction. Turn left here and proceed to the next turn-off. Turn right here, following the signs to False Bay. After 4km, turn right again at the T-junction, and then right again at the sign Falaza Game Park. The last 2km are on a dirt road.

Notable points of interest include the:
Falaza main lodge: -27.9937, 32.3454
Entrance track: -27.9934, 32.3499

Other related information:

The nearest towns to Falaza Game Park are:
Hluhluwe: 12km
Mkuze: 67km
St Lucia: 81km

Access and facilities:
Falaza Game Park is accessible by overnight guests only. A variety of activities are on offer through the lodge including game drives, walking safaris, boat cruises and night drives.

Recommended accommodation nearby:
Falaza Game Park offers luxurious 4-star rated tented accommodation, split across 15 tents each capable of sleeping two people. All tents are equipped with modern amenities including fans, hairdryer, and tea and coffee making facilities, while heaters and additional blankets are available on request for the chillier months. Seven tents have both indoor and outdoor bathrooms with a bath and shower in both. Five tents have an indoor shower and bath, and 3 only have indoor showers. To make a reservation, use the contact details listed above.

Moreover, numerous Birder Friendly Establishments are available in the nearby towns of Hluhluwe and St Lucia. For more information, please view Birder Friendly Establishments using the following link:
http://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-establishments/kwazulu-natal/

Local guide information:
Falaza has a number of in-house field guides, all of whom have exceptional knowledge about the local flora and fauna (including birdlife).
Several community guides also operate within the wider Hluhluwe/Mkhuze/St Lucia areas. For more information, please use the following link:
https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/community-bird-guides/

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

Key species:

Pink-throated Twinspot, Lemon-breasted Canary, Gorgeous Bush-shrike, Rudd’s Apalis, Neergaard’s Sunbird

Contact details:

For more information, contact:

Falaza Game Park
Tel: +27 (0)35 562 2555 (reservations)
Tel: +27 (0)35 562 2555 (reservations)
Tel: +27 (0)35 562 2319 (lodge)
Fax: +27 (0)35 562 2086 (lodge)
Cell: +27 (0)72 037 9900 (lodge)
Tel: +27 (0)35 562 2319 (spa)
Email: reservations@falaza.co.za

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