North-west Zululand – Pongola Game and Nature Reserves
About the Birding
The Pongola Game and Nature Reserves are two distinct but adjoining areas, supporting a very similar assemblage of bird species. Pongola Nature Reserve was the first proclaimed Reserve in South Africa, though has been de-proclaimed and reproclaimed. These reserves surround the Jozini Dam, a large impoundment of water on the Pongola River. The Lebombo Mountains form the eastern boundary of the reserve and contain numerous forest patches and steep cliffs. Pongola Nature Reserve is managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, while the Game Reserve is privately owned.
About the Birding Site
North-west Zululand is one of the most varied of the birding routes in KwaZulu-Natal ranging in habitat from high altitude temperate grasslands in the west, to low lying subtropical thickets in the east including several large wetlands. Given this incredibly high habitat diversity, it is no surprise that the route also boasts an impressive checklist of birds including 58 of Southern Africa’s endemic and near-endemic species, many of which are confined to the extensive grasslands and wetlands.
Other Related Information
To access the Game Reserve: travel up the N2 from Durban. Pass the “Mkhuze” turnoff, as well as the “Jozini” one. About 35km further north, on the right-hand side of the road, lies the well-signposted entrance to the Game Reserve. Travel a further 5km, turn right at the sign “Golela”, drive into the small town and follow the signs to the Nature Reserve.