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Tucked against the foothills of the Lebombo mountains in North eastern Swaziland, lies the Mbuluzi Game Reserve, with its marvellous diversity of habitat, from massive riverine forest to knobthorn, Savannah and open grassland. Mbuluzi boasts a list of approximately 400 bird species. A two to five day visit is recommended. In summer a list of 100 – 150 birds can easily be recorded over a 2 –3 day visit. At an altitude of 150 – 450 m, the climate is warm to hot during the day with pleasant cool evenings.



These include Narina Trogon, Dwarf Bittern, African Finfoot, Crested Guineafowl, Eastern Nicator, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, White-backed Night-Heron, African Cuckoo Hawk, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Pennant-winged Nightjar, African Palm-Swift, Crowned Hornbill, Red-backed Mannikin, African Broadbill and Woodland Kingfisher.



Bound by the Mbuluzi river and the Lebombo mountain, Mbuluzi includes riverine forests, rocky krantzes, deciduous thickets, knobthorn savannah, acacia bushveld and open grasslands. Ironwood and Lebombo cycad forests are found adjacent to Mbuluzi.



Game Lodges: Each lodge is sited in silent isolation overlooking the Mlawula river lined with large trees and palms. Lodges are fully equipped and sleep 8 persons on a self-catering or catered for, basis. Visitors have access to game viewing vehicles, and are free to roam the area on well marked guided or self guided trails. A bird hide is available overlooking the dam. Night drives are permitted for Lodge residents. No camping.



The Mbuluzi Game Reserve office will provide detailed directions, maps and game guards for guided walks. Mphafa Trail: (3 ½ hours) + 5.4 km. Mountainous with exceptional views, passing through dry riverbeds and wooded areas. Eastern Nicator, Black-headed Oriole, White-backed Vulture, Tawny Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Crested Guineafowl, Klaas's Cuckoo, Woodland Kingfisher, Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike, Grey-headed Bush-Shrike, Violet-backed Starling.

Umganu Loop: (2 ½ hours) 3.5 km. An easy walk through tamboti, leadwoods, brackthorn, tree wisteria and pod mahoganies. There is a short climb towards the end of the walk. The Gwalagwala pan is a good stop for waterfowl. Red-collared Widowbird, Southern Red Bishop, Long-tailed Paradise-Whydah, African Black Duck, Common Ostrich, White-breasted Cormorant, Reed Cormorant, Purple Heron, Yellow-billed Duck, Crested Guineafowl, Purple-crested Turaco, Woodland Kingfisher, Little Bee-eater, Bar-throated Apalis, Green-capped Eremomela, Ashy Flycatcher, Red-backed Mannikin, African Fish-Eagle, Giant Kingfisher, Thick-billed Weaver.

Mkolikoki Trail: (2 hours) 2.6 km. This walk takes one up out a krantz overlooking the Mlawula stream, passed some magnificent pod mahoganies. Large leafed rock fig and through a stand of Tamboti. Crowned Hornbill, Brown Snake-Eagle, African Harrier-Hawk, Crested Guineafowl, Tambourine Dove, Red-chested Cuckoo, Half-collared Kingfisher, European Bee-eater, Southern Black Flycatcher, Black-headed Oriole, Grey-headed Bush-Shrike, Amethyst Sunbird and Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike.

Imbondvo Trail: (6 hours) 8.8 km. Takes one through red bushwillow, marula, buffalo thorn and knob thorn. This trail is for the energetic and fit, and does become strenuous in places. Common Ostrich, Long-crested Eagle, Natal Spurfowl, Klaas's Cuckoo, European Bee-eater, African Broadbill, Black-headed Oriole, Green-backed Camaroptera, Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike, Grey-headed Bush-Shrike, Red-headed Weaver, Village Indigobird, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, Corn Crake.

Vovovo Trail: (Inner 3.8 km – 2 ½ hrs) (Outer 5.3 kms – 6 hrs). The outer trail is designed for the energetic, while the inner trail is much less strenuous and most rewarding. The inner trails leads one through indigenous forest of knob thorn, red ivory, Tamboti, Weeping Boer Bean and Jacket Plum. On reaching the Mlawula stream, one comes onto beautiful pools with wild date palms. African Black Duck, African Finfoot, Black Crake, Long-crested Eagle, Green-backed Heron, Hamerkop, African Dusky Flycatcher, Common Ostrich, White-breasted Cormorant, Saddle-billed Stork, African Fish-Eagle, Barn Owl, Giant Kingfisher, Spotted Flycatcher.

Umkhaya Loop: (5.2 km - + 3 hrs). This trail is aptly named with its abundance of Umkhaya (Knob Thorn) trees. The beginning of the trail leads over rocky rhyolite and is fairly undulating; it then eases onto flatter ground. This trail takes one past Tamboti, mountain aloes, Icad woods, Weeping Boer Bean, Common Star Chestnut and Largeleaf Rock Fig. Cape Glossy Starling, Dark-capped Bulbul, Amethyst Sunbird, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Purple Heron, Purple-crested Turaco, Grey-headed Bush-Shrike, Little Bee-eater, Arrow-marked Babbler, Harlequin Quail, Black-headed Oriole, Woodland Kingfisher, African Broadbill, Sombre Greenbul.



Mbuluzi is accessible on good tar roads.

Border post hours should be checked before entering Swaziland. Distances from major centres by road: Johannesburg 9;(560 km), Durban (500 km), Nelspruit (180 km), Maputo 9; (95 km). Note all entries into Swaziland require a valid passport. Scheduled flights are available to and from Matsapa Airport. (An hours drive from Mbuluzi). Direct, non-schedule flights can be made to Tambankulu Estates. Three days notice is required to arrange passport and custom clearance. (15 minute drive from Mbuluzi).

Accommodation is available in the area.

Pam Hughes 1998.

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