Nkandla Forest

56 kilometres north-west of the town of Eshowe, once the capital of Zululand, is a beautiful forest; one of the most magnificently beautiful in the province. Nkandla Forest is a rare type of high wet rain forest of which there are few examples left.

Nkandla covers the ridge between the Thukela and Mhlatuze rivers, lying between 1100 to 1300 metres above sea level where a constant moisture and continuous mists mean that a world of trees, lush understorey tree ferns and cycads exist, just waiting for a visit.

Below the ridge runs the Nsuze River. Only locals will know this, but there are horses said to roam wild in the forest, eagles soar above the trees and you’re advised to take a guide into the forest with you as there are paths that disappear beneath all the greenery and lushness, making it difficult to navigate.

On top of its vegetation, there are many birds found in the forest. Knysna turaco, orange ground thrush, forest canaries, grey cuckoo-shrikes and white-starred robins are but a few. Head for a part of the forest known as ‘thrush alley’ if you want to be sure to see the thrush.

With over 147 bird species to see, it is unsurprising to find that Nkandla is on the Zululand Birding Route. The forest is run by KZN Wildlife and you don’t need a permit to visit, but contact the birding route for a guide to accompany you on a hike or walk.

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