South Coast – Uvongo (VUNGU) River Nature Reserve

About the Birding

The Uvongo (VUNGU) River Nature Reserve protects a small area of riparian forest, just upstream of the river mouth. The reserve extends over roughly 28 hectares and includes a number of short walking trails along the banks of the river, providing ample room to explore the lush riverine forests.

The river itself supports small numbers of waterbird species with resident African Black Duck and Striated Heron. African Finfoot is also regularly sighted cruising stealthily through overhanging vegetation. The surrounding riverine forest may yield the Purple-crested Turaco, Tambourine Dove, Narina Trogon, Yellow-bellied Greenbul and Purple-banded Sunbird. The rare Spotted Ground Thrush is an occasional visitor, mainly in winter, and is best located by its rich song and by following scratching sounds in the dense leaf litter. Other rarely encountered species include the Grey Sunbird, Grey Waxbill and Buff-spotted Flufftail. African Fish Eagle and Crowned Eagle are often sighted overhead.

Key species:

Purple-crested Turaco, African Black Duck, Narina Trogon, Spotted Ground Thrush

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:

Purple-crested Turaco, African Black Duck, Narina Trogon, Spotted Ground Thrush

Other Related Information

The reserve is situated on the KZN south coast between Port Shepstone and Margate. The main road passes over the bridge spanning the Vungu River. The reserve stretches upstream from this bridge. Access can be gained by crossing the Vungu river bridge to the south bank, then turn in at the first road to the right, a few hundred meters along this road past the tennis courts, turn right to Striders Club House. There is plenty of shady parking space alongside the club house. The reserve is about 130km from Durban.

Other related information:

Notable points of interest include the:
Parking area: -30.8348, 30.3883

Access and facilities:
Well-defined walking trails extend upstream from the Uvongo Beach Lodge on the north bank and from the Thure Lilliecrona Park on the south bank. There are picnic spots, braai sites and toilet facilities. However the toilet facilities are dilapidated, therefore toilet facilities should be sought at Uvongo Beach Lodge or elsewhere in the surrounding town of Uvongo.

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:

Purple-crested Turaco, African Black Duck, Narina Trogon, Spotted Ground Thrush

Contact details:

For more information, contact:

iVungu River Conservancy