Mtunzini / Umlalazi

The town of Mtunzini is regularly regarded as one of South Africa’s birding hotspots. The Umlalazi nature reserve is one of the most untouched pieces of coastal dune forest, with mangroves, raphia palms, and a river estuary to enjoy to your heart’s content. We do tours of the region and can show where to find some of the special birds that live in this unique and pristine part of the world.

The town of Mtunzini is a well maintained place, very popular with tourists who want to come to the north coast of Kwazulu-Natal and enjoy the excellent weather without the busy-ness of the bigger towns. The town can be used as a base to explore the region and offers excellent accommodation from excellent camp-sites to 4-star luxury. The entire town was declared a Conservancy and the community is committed to preserving the natural environment.

The prime birding in the Mtunzini region can be done at the Umlalazi Nature Reserve in the town. This reserve is 1000 hectares of indigenous Coastal Dune Forest, with a lagoon and estuary, with a boardwalk through two of South Africa’s rarest eco-system - a mangrove and Raphia palm forest. It is best visited with one of Birdlife South Africa’s accredited local guides, such as Junior Gabela.

This Mangrove forest makes Mtunzini one of the best spOots in the world to see the rare Mangrove Kingfisher in winter - notably Mtunzini is also a good spot to catch the Half-Collared Kingfisher as well as every other South African kingfisher other than the Woodland.

The Palm-Nut Vulture is another Mtunzini special that can be seen on the toll-road coming into the town! These are associated with the massive Raphia palms that were introduced to the area last century.

The lagoon and estuary provide ample birding opportunities to see an array of other waterbirds. The African Finfoot is relatively common in the region as well as an array of herons, egrets and plovers including the Purple Heron, Eurasian Whimbrel, White-fronted Plover, Little Rush Warbler, African Spoonbill or even an African Crake.

The coastal forests also provide an array of forest birds including the Black Coucal, Green Twinspot, Forest Buzzard, Purple-Crested Turaco, Black-Throated Wattle-Eye, Narina Trogon, Gorgeous Bush-shrike, Dark-Backed Weaver and Olive Woodpecker.

Our top specials for the region are:

If you are planning on visiting this birding hotspot, consider booking a tour with Zululand Birding with Junior Gabela. If you are beginning with birding, Junior can teach you the resident common and special birds. For experts, he will show you all the best spots to find some of the highly sought-after ticks. Just book a half- or full-day tour and add Mtunzini to your wishlist!

For more information about Mtunzini, regarding where to stay, things to do, and any other general information, check out Mtunzini Village.