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Oribi Gorge is situated along the spectacular forest-cloaked ravine of the Mzimkulwana River as it cuts through the sugarcane farmlands of southern KwaZulu-Natal. It is best known as KwaZulu-Natal’s most reliable spot for Knysna Woodpecker. The reserve, however, also offers outstanding forest and other birding. The total bird list stands at over 230 species and a total of close to a 100 species would a reasonable day total in summer. You should give Oribi Gorge at least a full day’s birding and preferably stay over for a night or two to really explore the full range of exciting species to be found.

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Specials

Knysna Woodpecker, African Crowned Eagle, Knysna Turaco, Narina Trogon, African Wood-Owl, Barratt's Warbler, Brown Scrub-Robin, Olive Bush-Shrike, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Black-bellied Starling, Grey Sunbird, Olive Sunbird, Grey Waxbill and Green Twinspot

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Habitats

The primary birding habitat at Oribi is scarp forest, with a combination of both coastal and Afromontane forest birds. There are also areas of open, rocky grassland, extensive tall cliffs and the aquatic habitat of the Mzimkulwana River.

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Facilities

Access road, trails, picnic site, rest camp and hotel.

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Birding

Birding can be done either from the road down into the gorge or from the numerous trails that lead off from the main camp or from the picnic site along the Mzimkulwana River. The trails along the river will prove the most productive for birding. For the most sedentary, just pottering around the rest camp and picnic site will be highly rewarding.

1. Your primary quarry at Oribi Gorge is likely to be the Knysna Woodpecker, at the northern limit of its distribution here. The presence of this rather secretive bird is usually revealed by its high-pitched ‘skee’ call. This enigmatic forest denizen has one of the most restricted distributions of any woodpecker, occurring only along the coastal regions from Oribi Gorge southwards to the western cape. It is similar in appearance to the more widespread Golden-tailed Woodpecker, which replaces it to the north over large parts of Africa. The Knysna Woodpecker can be distinguished from the Golden-tailed Woodpecker by its heavily spotted, not lightly streaked, underparts and its higher pitched call.

2. The forest birding along the road down into the ravine and along the Mzimkulwana River is amongst the best in south Africa. Characteristic species (some of which are close to the southern limit of their range here) include: Natal Spurfowl, Knysna Turaco, Narina Trogon, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Square-tailed Drongo, Brown Scrub-Robin, Barratt's Warbler, Cape Batis, Southern Boubou, Olive Bush-Shrike, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Black-bellied Starling, Grey Sunbird, Olive Sunbird, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Dark-backed Weaver, Swee Waxbill, Grey Waxbill, Green Twinspot and Forest Canary. The Chorister Robin-Chat is largely a winter visitor. The localised and cagey Spotted Ground-Thrush occurs in the best developed forest patches and the elusive African Broadbill is rarely, but regularly, reported from the reserve.

3. A pair of African Crowned Eagle have a nest virtually over the road in a tall tree on the left-hand side about 1.5 km down the gorge from the reserve camp turnoff. Park at the lay by about 100 m further on and walk back up to the nest for a chance at a sighting of this, Africa’s most powerful, bird of prey.

4. A night drive along this road is likely to reveal one or more African Wood-Owl perched over the road.

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General

From Durban follow the N2 southwards to Port Shepstone and then inland towards Kokstad. The turnoff to the reserve is 21 km from Port Shepstone and is well signposted (ignore the first turnoff marked ‘Oribi Gorge’ about 10 km from Port Shepstone). This is a Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife reserve, and a bird list and trails map is available at reception office.

The entrance fee is R10 per person.

Gate Opening and Closing Times: 06h30 to 19h30

Office Hours:
The office is open from 08h00 to 12h30 and from 14h00 to 16h30

Camp Telephone Number: +27 39 679 1644


KZN Wildlife Website



David Allan 2001



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