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This small Zululand town is surrounded by areas of such natural beauty that it attracts an enormous number of species to a large cross-section of habitats. river mouths and lagoons, coastal and swamp forest, mangroves, grasslands and woodlands are all represented, and there is a stand of massive raffia palms which were planted many years ago and have since been declared a national monument. Walking trails cross the whole area and details of these are available either from the Umlalazi Nature Reserve office, The Fat Cat Coffee Shop or from the Municipal offices. To gain access to the Umlalazi Nature Reserve use your Wildcard or Golden Rhino Card or pay at the office. There are self catering huts both here and at the Forest Lodge time share. There are several B&Bs and self catering establishments in the village.

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Birding

1) A trail through the coastal forest joins the Siyayi Lagoon in the south to the Umlalazi Lagoon in the north, and a round trip back along the beach is possible. Though forest birding is always difficult, look out for Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Narina Trogon, Square-tailed Drongo, Spotted Ground-Thrush, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Black-bellied Starling and Dark-backed Weaver. Around the Forest Lodge, Green Malkoha, Spotted Ground-Thrush and Brown Scrub-Robin are often easily seen. African Finfoot are occasionally seen from the bridge and walkway that crosses the Siyayi River, while a walkway through a rare coastal swamp forest introduces the visitor to species such as Purple-banded Sunbird, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird and Ashy Flycatcher.

2) A trail also links the Forest Lodge to the Raffia Palm Monument and as this passes through forest, woodland and grassland all the previously mentioned species may be seen plus African Pygmy-Kingfisher, White-eared Barbet and of course the magnificent Palm-nut Vulture which nest and feed on the huge Raffias.

3) In the Umlalazi Lagoon a large stand of mangroves may just yield the elusive Mangrove Kingfisher and African Finfoot. Short walks can be taken through the forest and large numbers of waders are present at the mouth at certain times of year. The Lagoon is home to a few pairs of Woolly-necked Stork, African Fish-Eagle, Long-crested Eagle, numbers of kingfishers. Black-chested Snake-Eagle and Osprey are also seen occasionally. In the reedbeds Dark-capped Yellow Warbler (winter) and Red-faced Cisticola are to be found.

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General

Mtunzini is just over 130 km north of Durban on the N2 north, and 48km before Richard's Bay. The Mtunzini village offramp is at the Mtunzini Toll Plaza, and from here just follow the signs. Entry to Umlalazi Lagoon depends on the time of year.

There is accommodation available in and around Mtunzini.

Mtunzini Website

Patti Brooks 2008
Dave Bishop 1998



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