Mkuze Game Reserve

April 17th, 2006 by Thinus Leave a reply »

Mkuze Game Reserve
Where: Zulu Land, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
GPS: -27.59455, 32.22029
When: 2006-04-14 to 2006-04-17

Mkuze First this: by now the bird watching bug has bitten deep into us, so I was over excited when I got invited to Mkuze. Of the just over 950 bird species that Southern Africa has to offer, this 40 000 hectare game reserve in northern Zululand hosts more than half. It is said that an experienced eye can see over 200 species in one visit.

We left early morning for the 600km trip in Dirk’s new 4.6 liter V6 Toyota Raider. The trip past Piet Retief and Pongola on the N2 was a long one, with many road works that had us stop for up to 20 minutes at times, but we see each other very little and had much to talk about. This is also our first real trip to the East of South Africa in a long time, and the change of scenery that Zululand with all its mountain ranges has to offer was breath taking.

Very soon you leave the city behind and only see rural villages and people who make a living by farming or herding a few cattle. At road work stops, little girls as young as 5 years walk past the 40 to 50 cars that are waiting, selling her 3 mangoes or sugarcane reeds.

MkuzeWe had lunch at a Wimpy halfway there, and after a 7 hour drive we found Mkuze, tucked away in the western edge of Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, a tropical paradise. The chalets were very luxurious, with a lounge, dining room, tv and huge mosquito nets hanging over every bed. The porch with braai looked out right into the bush.

The night’s sleep was great, after the long drive, but also because it is pitch dark outside with a graveyard silence.

Every day we got up early and drive through the nature reserve. Fauna side we saw buffalo, rhino, nyala, blue wildebeest, warthog, eland, hippo, impala, kudos, giraffe, and other antelope. Little springbok and duikers were frequent visitors right up to our front porch. Flora wise there are many Yellow Fever trees, and a Fig Tree forest where you can go on guided hikes. Then there was the birds! We didn’t know where to look, and couldn’t keep up at identifying half of them!

There is Nsumo Pan, a huge fresh water lake, with 2 nicely hidden bird hides. I got off here while they drive through the rest of the park. I sat here for more than an hour and saw many water birds, including Spoon-bill and White Pelicans, had hippos play right under the hide, and heard the magic sound of an Africa Fish Eagle calling in the trees right above!

In the late evenings we made fire, roasted some meat, had a whiskey and enjoyed the night sounds, and active night creatures like geckos and romans hunting for food.

In the end we saw 24 new birds and had plenty of rest.

1 comment

  1. Tony says:

    I first went to Mkuze in 1968 and got to know John Tinley, the head ranger at that time. A very beautiful reserve.
    Go to the site below for the history of Mkuze.
    http://www.africamera.co.za/Book/ack.htm
    P.S. I also stay in Eco Park

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