Southern Zululand – Eshowe Prince Dadulamanzi Trail

About the Birding

Situated in southern Zululand, near the town of Eshowe, are the beautiful indigenous forests around Entumeni. These forests consist almost entirely of coastal scarp forest with a few glades of grassland. Known for their birds, moths (home of the Miller’s Tiger), butterflies and plants, the forests are also home to a number of mammal species. Local farmers belonging to the Eshowe-Entumeni Conservancy have formed a partnership with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to manage the two reserves.

This has now realized a long-held dream of joining the two forests with a hiking trail, called the “Prince Dabulamanzi Trail” named after one of the Zulu Princes who lived in the area during and before the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879. The trail starts in Dlinza, winds its way through beautiful forests and streams on the farms, into Entumeni Forest and ends up on Dreadnought Farm. In time, the trail will be extended to Mbongolwane Wetland, situated within the tribal lands of the Ntuli Clan, which are to the west of Eshowe.

From Eshowe, take the Entumeni/Nkandla road and after 13.2 km turn left at the Entumeni Nature Reserve signpost. Travel a further 8.4 km and turn right onto the D397 road. Proceed for 4.4 km and you will pass Farm Watch sign 9.6 and the signboard “Mr L Gunter”. Continue down a steep decline, cross the first stream and just after the second stream, turn right. Park in the parking area. Listen for the Crowned Eagle. On the walk, look for the Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Mountain Wagtail, African Black Duck, Grey Waxbill, Purple-crested Turaco, and Black-bellied Starling. Scaly-throated Honeyguides are not uncommon in areas where there are tall emergent trees; this species is best detected by its loud rattling call, which is given from ‘favourite’ perches within the forest. After you have walked past a clump of orange Clivia minitia (early spring flowering), keep a watch for African Finfoot, Half-collared Kingfisher, Green Malkoha, woodpeckers and bulbuls. The walk ends at a picturesque waterfall.

Entumeni Forest Reserve. No permit is required. Situated west of Eshowe, drive through Eshowe along Kangella Street in the Nkandla direction. After 13.2 km turn left and continue for 3.5 km where you will find the entrance and picnic site on the right. Established in 1970, this 750 hectare reserve consists largely of a gorge covered by forest. A visit to this reserve is advised only for the fit as the two trails are both situated on steep terrain. There are no facilities other than a clearing in the forest with two picnic tables. The two trails begin at this clearing. The uPiti Trail is a circular route and takes approximately 2 hours to complete. The Ukhozi Trail takes approximately 4 hours. The Ukhozi Trail covers some beautiful but strenuous terrain. The half-way is at a spectacular waterfall on the Ngoje stream. At this point the Mountain Wagtails are often observed along the stream. Birds similar to those seen in Dlinza Forest may be found, but you might also see African Broadbill, African Olive Pigeon, Brown Scrub-robin, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler and Black Cuckoo. On the forest edge, look for Drakensberg Prinia, Lazy and Croaking Cisticolas and Southern Tchagra. Listen for Shelley’s Francolin. Two pairs of Crowned Eagles are regularly seen and heard flying over the forest. As with the Dlinza Forest, both Blue Duiker and Bushbuck occur in the forest. The grasslands in the reserve are home to a herd of Plain’s Zebra. This forest has a particularly high and impressive canopy provided by trees such as the Giant Umzimbeet, Wild Plum and Flatcrowns. Those in turn provide shade for the numerous colonies of plants such as Cycads and Clivias on the forest floor. A rare moth, the Miller’s Tiger, which was thought to be extinct, was recently discovered in the grasslands of the Entumeni Forest.

Key species:

Orange Ground Thrush, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, African Broadbill, Chorister Robin-chat

About the Birding Site

Southern Zululand is perhaps the premier forest birding route in all of KwaZulu-Natal, home to a rich diversity of species in a mix of different habitats. Starting on the warm coast of Zululand, between Mtunzini and Richard’s Bay, the route offers many estuarine swamp forests supporting impressive numbers of threatened species including the Mangrove Kingfisher and Black-throated Wattle-eye. Coastal forests here are equally rich in species and are perhaps the best areas anywhere in South Africa to search for the Spotted Ground Thrush (mainly a winter visitor) and Palm-nut Vulture.

Further inland near the towns of Eshowe, Melmoth, and Nkandla are several Afromontane mistbelt and scarp forests where a number of incredibly range-restricted species may be found including the highly localized endemic race of the Green Barbet, as well as Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon. These areas descend sharply down to dry thornveld habitats in a region that is rich in both Zulu history and culture.

The town of Eshowe is centrally positioned within the southern Zululand birding route and is surrounded by a number of extensive scarp forests. It is often the starting point for birders visiting this region of KwaZulu-natal and is rightly famous as the best site anywhere in South Africa for both the Spotted Ground Thrush and the Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon. Dlinza Forest, which is situated in the very heart of the town itself, is perhaps the pride of the entire southern Zululand birding route and boasts one of the only canopy towers – offering sublime views over the forest – anywhere in South Africa. To the west of Eshowe is the Entumeni Nature Reserve, which is superficially similar in many regards to the Dlinza Forest. To the north of the town is Lake Phobane, which is at the very heart of King Shaka’s Kingdom offering unique birding in a variety of different habitats.

Key species:

Orange Ground Thrush, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, African Broadbill, Chorister Robin-chat

Other Related Information

Directions:
Refer to the main text.

Notable points of interest include the:
Main entrance track to the Entumeni Forest: -28.8749, 31.3846

The nearest towns to Entumeni Forest are:
Eshowe: 13km
Melmoth: 63km
Mtunzini: 63km

Other related information:

Access and facilities:
A network of tracks and trails leads into the Entumeni Forest, though no other facilities are available.

Recommended accommodation nearby:
Numerous Birder Friendly Establishments are available in the town of Eshowe. For more information, please view Birder Friendly Establishments using the following link:
http://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-establishments/kwazulu-natal/

Local guide information:
Several community guides operate within the wider Dlinza/Melmoth/Mtunizini areas. For more information, please use the following link:
https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/community-bird-guides/

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

Key species:

Orange Ground Thrush, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, African Broadbill, Chorister Robin-chat

Contact details:

The Entumeni Forest is under the co-administration of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. For more information, contact:

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Tel: +27 (0)33 845 1999
Fax: +27 (0 086 505 889
Email: bookings@kznwildlife.com
Website: www.kznwildlife.com

Download Checklist