The Mkhuze Experience
Mkhuze Game Reserve, which is 45 minutes north of Malala, is a 40 000 hectare (100 000 acres) reserve which was proclaimed a protected area in 1912.
The reserve has an astonishing diversity of natural habitats, from the eastern slopes of the Lebombo mountains to broad stretches of acacia savannah, swamps, woodlands and riverine forest. Sand forest, a rare forest type confined to fossil sand dunes, also occurs within the reserve.
Mammals found in the reserve include Black and White Rhino, Elephant, Leopard, Spotted Hyaena, Giraffe and a number of antelope species. The rare Suni Antelope is found here, staying close to thick vegetation. There are several hides and lookout platforms that provide visitors with excellent mammal and bird viewing opportunities.
The gates open at 5am and close at 7pm in summer (October-March) and are open 6am-6pm in winter.
A place of great beauty, Mkhuze Game Reserve is renowned as a mecca for bird watchers with more than 420 species recorded - one of South Africa's highest checklists for a protected area - due largely to the diversity of habitats included in the reserve. Mkhuze has several birds of prey and an amazing 11 species of owls.
Birding in Mkhuze is excellent all year round, but is boosted in summer by the arrival of migrants such as the Broad-billed Roller, Woodland Kingfisher, several cuckoos and waders.
Two beautiful pans, Nhlonhlela and Nsumo, are home to populations of Hippo and Nile Crocodile as well as Pinkbacked and Great White Pelicans - Nsumo pan being home to South Africa's only breeding colony of Pinkbacked Pelicans. Waterbird numbers are dependent on the water level of the pans and in summer many ducks and wading birds are present.
The sandforest around Kubube and Kumasinga hide hold some of the most sought after species, including Neergaard’s Sunbird, Pinkthroated Twinspot and Retz’s Helmetshrike.
For further information on the birding specials at Mkhuze, take a look at the Zululand Birding Route