North-east Zululand – Mkhuze Ubombo Mountain Nature Reserve
About the Birding
This relatively unknown reserve lies between the impressive Lebombo Mountains and the Mkhuze River and covers a variety of habitats including riverine bush, thornveld, grassland and cliffs. The reserve is administered by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and was proclaimed in the 1980’s to protect the many rare plants that grow around the mountain. The reserve covers an immense altitudinal range, between 90m to 595m above sea level, and stretches to the very top of the Lebombo Mountains.
About the Birding Site
The Mkhuze area, situated just inland from iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, is world-renowned as a mecca for birders laying at the ecotone between two distinct climatic zones and supporting a high diversity of habitats. Habitats in the region include cliffs, rocky ridges and scarp forests on the eastern slopes of the Lebombo mountains, through to acacia savannah, mixed woodlands and grasslands surrounding Lower Mkhuze. Numerous large pans are also scattered throughout the region and, although water-levels vary from year to year, are widely regarded as the most important waterbird breeding sites anywhere in South Africa.
Other Related Information
Traveling from Durban or Johannesburg, drive the N2 highway and take the Mkhuze turn-off (about 60km south of Pongola and 50km north of the Hluhluwe turn-off). Drive through the village till the T-junction. Here one turns right to Mkhuze Game Reserve, but turns left to Ubombo. Travel past Ghost Mountain Inn and turn right about 3km later (after crossing the Mkhuze River Bridge). Continue up this dirt road for about 7km. The reserve turn-off is situated on the right-hand side of the road and is displayed by a large wall with the name on it.