Dlinza / Eshowe

The town of Eshowe is one of the birding hotspots in Zululand. This town is built on the edge of Dlinza forest, an indigenous forest teeming with unique trees, plants and animals.

Eshowe is one of the oldest modern settlements in all of Zululand with a history of being a birdwatcher's paradise - many of the iconic photos of Zululand's forest specials are captioned with Eshowe as the location of the photo. Once you look at one of Eshowe's main attractions, Dlinza Forest, it is not hard to see why.

Dlinza forest might be small compared to the other 4 main coastal scarp forests in the region but it has a special feature - an Aerial Boardwalk. This wooden boardwalk winds an impressive 125 metres through the forest reserve and reaches a height of 20m above the ground at its highest point. This offers a completely different experience of viewing the upper forest canopy, breathtaking in its beauty even without considering the unique birding opportunities it provides you. It is best visited with one of Birdlife South Africa’s accredited local guides, such as Junior Gabela.

These opportunities include a chance to see the rare Eastern Bronze-Naped Pigeon at eye-level - where normally our experience is limited to a short glance at red feet in the upper canopy, or the echoes of their song from another corner of the forest. Other treetop canopy birds include the Green Malkoha, Narina Trogon, African Sparrowhawk, African Emerald Cuckoo, and Black-Bellied Starling.

But the Dlinza forest experience is not limited to the boardwalk and the upper canopy. The forest also contains a network of walking trails along the forest floor. This opens up more possibilities for rare lowland forest bird sightings. On the forest floor you can find a number of rare specials including the highly endangered Spotted Ground Thrush, the evasive Green Twinspot the beautiful Bearded Scrub-Robin, Olive Sunbird, Cape Batis and Green-Backed Camaroptera.

Birding in the forest can be hard due to the thick upper canopies and low light forest floor. Knowing the various distinct bird songs and contact calls is vital to locating them. This can be difficult if you are new to the area and getting a local guide can accelerate your ability to learn, understand, observe and enjoy the unique birdlife in the area

Dlinza forest and the Eshowe region are Junior's specialties. He knows all the best spots to learn the common birds, regional specials and find some of the rarer sightings.

Our top specials for the region are:

If you are interested in giving Dlinza Forest a visit, join Junior for a tour and be sure to add this birding hotspot to your wishlist when booking a guide. Junior will show you how to distinguish the call of the flycatchers from the waxbills and show you where you have the best chance of seeing some of the rare special birds found in this region.