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This reserve on the border of Mozambique is only just over 10 000 ha in extent, but has a birdlist which is the envy of many much larger protected areas. Over 400 species have been recorded and it's proximity to Mozambique has resulted in some sightings of species normally associated only with that country. Due to its isolation and remoteness, it is recommended that the visitor spends at least two nights here though four would probably be better to enable all the possibilities to be thoroughly explored. Summer lists of 150 to 200 species are not uncommon.

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Specials

Include, African Pygmy-Goose, Southern Banded Snake-Eagle, African Cuckoo Hawk, European Honey-Buzzard, African Finfoot, Black Coucal, Pel's Fishing-Owl, Narina Trogon, Broad-billed Roller, African Broadbill, Eastern Nicator, Rudd's Apalis, Burnt-necked Eremomela, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Retz's Helmet-Shrike, Woodwards' Batis, Neergaard's Sunbird, Long-toed Lapwing and Pink-throated Twinspot.

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Habitats

These are very varied and include broadleaved and acacia woodland, sand forest and thicket, riverine and swamp forest, and the Pongola/Usutu floodplain with it's numerous pans and reedbeds, and floodplain grasslands.

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Facilities

Facilities are well established and a good road network connects points of interest such as hides and the look-out tower, while the main camp consists of seven, three-bed huts with communal bathroom and kitchen facilities. Guided trails and drives around Nyamithi Pan are available and a luxury lodge caters for upmarket clientele.

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Birding

Maps, birdlists and advice are available from the office in the main camp and it is here too that bookings are made for the walks and drives. Booking is advisable particularly for the drives.

1. The woodland between the main gate and camp not only provides some of the best opportunities for game viewing, but birding as well. A pair of Bateleur regularly uses a nest right next to the road and the game guards will point this out to the visitor. Typical woodland species include Spotted Thick-knee, White-crested Helmet-Shrike, Retz's Helmet-Shrike, Stierling's Wren-Warbler, White-backed Vulture, White-headed Vulture, Southern Banded Snake-Eagle, a number of cuckoos, Striped Kingfisher, European Bee-eater, White-fronted Bee-eater, Grey Penduline-Tit, Burnt-necked Eremomela, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Black-crowned Tchagra, Marico Sunbird and a relative rarity for Natal, the Long-tailed Paradise-Whydah.

2. On either the north or south Pongola guided walks the visitor will be taken through climax riverine forest consisting mainly of wild figs (Ficus sycomoros), and it is here that Pel's Fishing-Owl, Narina Trogon and African Finfoot can be encountered. The haunting call of White-browed Robin-Chat will often ring out from the thickets and the reedbeds conceal a host of exciting species such as Black Coucal, Flufftail and Crake.

3. Shokwe Pan is another area accessible on foot with a guide, and here too the fig trees provide suitable roosts for Pel's Fishing-Owl. Broad-billed Roller, Narina Trogon and Woodland Kingfisher are also seen at times while the lily-covered pan provides ideal habitat for Lesser Moorhen and Lesser Jacana among others.

4. At the right time of year, quite the most popular spot for birds is Nyamithi Pan. Guided drives are available from the main camp and the guides are well versed in bird identification. Waders, herons, storks and numbers of African Fish-Eagle are usually present. In the massive fever trees (Acacia xanthophloea) surrounding the pan look out for Broad-billed Roller, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Rudd's Apalis, Grey-headed Bush-Shrike, Purple-banded Sunbird; and in the thickets White-browed Robin-Chat and White-throated Robin-Chat.

5. The vulture restaurant on the way to the pan can provide sightings of White-backed Vulture, White-headed Vulture, Lappet-faced Vulture and the occasional Palm-nut Vulture.

6. The central region of the reserve is covered by what was described by Courtney Selous as "the thickest thornveld in Africa", and it is here that the challenge of finding Pink-throated Twinspot, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, African Broadbill, Eastern Nicator, Neergaard's Sunbird, and the small accipiters among others, presents itself.

7. The far western part of the reserve is one of the most interesting as it is open woodland and grassveld which attracts not only large numbers of game but also many species of bird. African Cuckoo Hawk, European Honey-Buzzard, most of the snake eagles, Retz's Helmet-Shrike, and many more have been ticked in this region.

8. Old bird lists contain a mouth-watering selection of species though whether they have been seen recently is not known. Birds such as Thick-billed Cuckoo, Chestnut-fronted Helmet-Shrike, Plain-backed Sunbird, Temminck's Courser, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Red-winged Warbler, Southern Brown-throated Weaver and even regular reports of Black-and-white Flycatcher will give the visitor some idea of the spectacular range of possibilities in this small Reserve.

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General

Accommodation is available in the area.

Gate Opening and Closing Times:
Summer ( October to March ) 05h00 to 19h00
Winter (April to September ) 06h00 to 18h00

Day visitor Entry fee R35.00 per adult R18.00 per child PLUS R35.00 per vehicle, 11-20 passengers R70.00, more than 20 passengers or mass above 3000 kg R140.00

The office is open from 08h00 to 12h00 and 13h00 to 16h00

Distance and Time from Gate to Camp: 6 kms

Camp Telephone Number: +27 35 591 0058 Camp Fax: +27 35 591 0058

Facilities: Game drives, Auto trail, laundry facilities, freezer.

Shop: There is no shop in the reserve but there is a well stocked trading store 2 kms from the reserve gate. Reception sells beer, wine, cooldrinks, sweets and curios.

Special Precautions:
Ndumo is in a malaria area and special precautions are necessary.

The nearest town which has a full range of services is Mkuze which is 100 kms away.

How to get there:
From the north or south follow the N2 and turn off at Jozini. Go through the town and across the dam wall then follow the road untill you see the Ndumo sign posts.

An entrance fee is payable and access is signposted from the main Jozini-Kosi Bay road. A good tar road leads to within 14 km of the gate and the roads to and within the reserve are well maintained dirt, easily passable by passenger vehicle at most times.

KZN Wildlife Website

Dave Bishop / Richard Boon 1998.



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