South Coast – Mpenjati Public Resort Nature Reserve

About the Birding

The Mpenjati Public Resort Nature Reserve extends over 660 hectares linking the coastal dune forest, beach and lagoon on both the northern and southern banks of the Mpenjati River. The source of the name derives from either the reedbeds lining the river (‘mphenjati’) or may refer to the ‘place of warring buffalo.’ While the exact origin remains unknown, there is little doubt that this is a must-visit site on the South Coast birding route given its proximity between both Margate and Port Edward.

Species to look for along the river include the Half-collared Kingfisher, Water Thick-knee, Kittlitz’s Plover and Giant Kingfisher. Check the beach for roosting terns as the Swift (Greater Crested) and Common Terns are common, and are often joined by African Black Oystercatcher. Overhead, watch for Western Osprey. Birds in the coastal dune forests include the Black-bellied Starling, Red-capped Robin-chat, Brown Scrub-robin, Black-backed Puffback and Forest Canary. Seeding grasses attract the shy Swee Waxbill and Green Twinspot.

Key species:

Green Twinspot, Half-collared Kingfisher, African Black Oystercatcher

About the Birding Site

The South Coast Birding Route in KwaZulu-Natal – spanning from Durban to the southern provincial border between KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape – comprises a variety of rich sub-tropical habitats ranging from coastal and inland wetlands to extensive grasslands, woodlands and forests. The forest birding to be had in this region is arguably some of the best anywhere in South Africa, featuring an interesting community of birds that is intermediate between the rich afromontane and coastal forests.

It is the only route within KwaZulu-Natal where these two diverse forest assemblages overall and, for this reason, birding in this area is extremely rewarding. Several species reach their northernmost limits within this route including the sought-after Knysna Woodpecker and Knysna Warbler, while other notable highlights include the Magpie Mannikin, Knynsa Turaco, and Red-headed Quelea. Moreover, the route boasts many of KwaZulu-Natal’s most revered birding sites including Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve, Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve and the Weza-Ngele Forest among others. Several days are recommended in the area to afford yourself with the best chances of finding the most sought-after species.

Key species:

Green Twinspot, Half-collared Kingfisher, African Black Oystercatcher

Other Related Information

The reserve is situated between Margate and Port Edward. Take the N2 freeway from Margate heading south. The reserve lies directly adjacent to the main road on the seaward side and is well signposted. There are entrance roads on both the north and south sides of the river.

Notable points of interest include the:
Mpenjati Public Resort Nature Reserve: -30.9709, 30.28063

Other related information:

The nearest towns to the main rest camp at Addo Elephant National Park are:
Southbroom: 7.3km
Port Edward: 13km
Margate: 19km

Access and facilities:
The area is administered by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. It is not necessary to make bookings prior to visiting the reserve. A nominal entrance fee is payable at the reserve. Picnic sites and ablution facilities with toilets are situated on both sides of the river. There are also well laid out walking trails with boardwalk observation platforms giving outstanding views of the river lagoon and its associated wetlands, the surrounding forests and grassland, and the adjacent coastline.

Recommended accommodation nearby:
The nearest Birder Friendly Establishments are in the nearby village of Margate. For more information, please visit:

Local guide information:
The nearest BirdLife Community Guide operates out of Umtamvuna Nature Reserve and Oribi Gorge. For more information, please contact: Mpendulo Innocent Mzindle on cell: +27 (0)73 893 0241. Alternatively, please visit:

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

Key species:

Green Twinspot, Half-collared Kingfisher, African Black Oystercatcher

Contact details: