Nkandla Forest

The Nkandla forest is one of the last remaining mist-belt forests, and is one of the largest - at a total of 1600 hectares. It has traditionally been shrouded in mystery and was regarded as the home of various supernatural entities in Zulu history. To this day they are full of a wide variety of plant and animal life.

The forest nature reserve is approximately 1 hour from the excellent town of Eshowe and provides excellent opportunities for birdwatching - as well as unique flora and fauna - from 30 meter high trees, to the Kwa-Zulu Natal endemic Blue Karkloof butterfly and the rare and endangered Eastern Bronze-Naped Pigeon. It is best visited with one of Birdlife South Africa’s accredited local guides, such as Junior Gabela.

The chorus of Knysna Turacos are a staple of these forests and if you can follow the red underwings as they fly in the treetops, you can often get an unobstructed view of this celebrity of the forest. In summer the chorus of cuckoos rings through the trees, while in winter we are still left with the “Hello Georgie” call of the African Emerald Cuckoo.

Within these forests we regularly cross paths with the shy and streaky African Broadbill who can be difficult to see perched quietly. The beautiful White-Starred Robin will normally disappear before you see it, but if you can hear it and remain quiet, its curious nature often means they come out of the foliage to investigate.

Some of the other excellent hard-to-see birds in the region are the Eastern Bronze-Naped Pigeon, where the calls can be heard - particularly in summer - ringing through the forests. The Green Twinspot is small and hard to locate, but with the right knowledge we can show you the best spots to look for them. The Spotted Ground-thrush is rare and endangered, but skulk on the Nkandla forest floor. Junior can teach you the subtle contact call to listen for to give you the best chance to see one.

Other great birds that can be found are the Scaly-Throated Honeyguide, Tambourine Dove, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Olive Bush-shrike, Dark-Backed Weaver, Orange-Breasted Bush-shrike, Orange Ground-thrush, Lemon Dove, Brown Scrub Robin, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Crowned Hornbill, and Terrestrial Brownbul.

Our top specials for the region are:

If you would like to visit this pristine piece of forest, deep in Zululand, join Junior for a tour of the region. He will teach you to decipher the endless chorus of forest bird songs and pick out the specials. He can take you to the best spots to find some of the rare specials that live in this unique and pristine mist-belt forest.