South Coast – Oribi Conservancy/ Idwala Nature Reserve (NPC Cimpor)

About the Birding

The Oribi Conservancy/Idwala Nature Reserve is a relatively recent development in the UmzimKulwana River valley, virtually forming an extension of the well-known Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve (treated separately). The area has a somewhat drier climate than Oribi Gorge and is characterised by more open valley and bushveld vegetation, though many species are common between the two reserves.

Species to look for in the thicket parts along the Umzimkulwana River include both the Olive and Knysna Woodpeckers – the latter near the northern limit of its range, and a species that is best detected by its high-pitched shrill call. Other characteristically forest species occasionally wander in from Oribi Gorge including the Narina Trogon, Brown Scrub-robin, Red-capped Robin-chat, Black-bellied Starling, Dark-backed Weaver, both Knysna and Purple-crested Turacos, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, and White-starred Robin. The small streams running into the Umzimkulwana River often support small numbers of Mountain Wagtail and African Finfoot. In more open woodland, search for the Southern Boubou, Gorgeous and Orange-breasted Bush-shrikes, Grey Sunbird, Terrestrial Brownbul and Cape Batis. Overhead and near the steep gorge walls, watch for Cape Vulture, Crowned and African Fish Eagles, and African Goshawk.

Key species:

White Starred Robin, Cape Vulture, Narina Trogon, African Finfoot, Brown Scrub-robin

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:

White Starred Robin, Cape Vulture, Narina Trogon, African Finfoot, Brown Scrub-robin

Other Related Information

Take the N2 in the direction of Kokstad from Port Shepstone. Travel through the Marburg industrial area. Pass through four sets of traffic lights and then proceed for about 9km after the final traffic light to the turnoff on the right, poorly signposted Oribi Flats East (If you miss the turnoff you will come to Merchison Hospital, turn back – you have gone too far) …

Other related information:

Follow the Oribi Flats East road for about 7km and just before the bridge over the UmzimKulwana river you will see the Natal Portland Cement Simuma factory to the right and Oribi Conservancy entrance to the left.

Notable points of interest include the:
Reserve entrance: -30.6794, 30.3362
The nearest towns to the Oribi Conservancy/Idwala Nature Reserve (NPC Cimpor) are:
Port Shepstone: 21km
Kokstad: 122km

Access and facilities:
Facilities consist of a road that leads to a river crossing opposite the picnic site, and braai area. Paths lead from the picnic site along the banks of the river allowing visitors to gain access to the bird rich riparian habitat. There is a bush toilet near the picnic site. At the entrance gate an Information Centre has been constructed with toilet facilities.
It is imperative to make prior arrangements to visit this beautiful area.

Recommended accommodation nearby:
Basic accommodation options (camping and chalets) are available at the nearby Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve through Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

For more information, contact:
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Reservations
Tel: +27 (0)33 845 1000
Fax: +27 (0)33 845 1001

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

Local guide information:
A 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:

White Starred Robin, Cape Vulture, Narina Trogon, African Finfoot, Brown Scrub-robin

Contact details:

For more information, or to make arrangements to visit, please contact:

Tel: +27 (0)39 687 8900