The beauty of Ongoye Forest is its combination of textures – the velvet-like grassy hills fringed by tall dense forest with great granite domes emerging at random along the ridges. The 3 900-hectare forest runs for about 10kms on a high ridge parallel to the ocean and is about 4kms wide. Botanically rich as it contains plants from both the temperate Eastern Cape forests as well as forests of tropical Africa, Ongoye Is a ‘must’ for the discerning nature lover.
The forest is also home to rare and endemic animals and birds such as the red squirrel, the Green Barbet, the yellow-streaked Bulbul and the green butterfly. It was also home to the magnificent giant Wood’s cycad (Encephalartos wood/1) which has been extinct in the wild since the early 1900’s. The many tree rarities include magnificent giant umzimbeets (Millettia sutheriandia), forest mangosteen (Garcinia gerrardii), forest waterberry (Syzyglum gerrardil) and the Pondoland fig (Ficus Wane) amongst others. There are no fewer than nine varieties of fig growing In the forest and this abundance of fruit could be the reason the Green Barbet can only be found in Ongoye Forest.
Good birding can be enjoyed by walking along the tracks through the reserve and there is usually a lot of activity In the first 2kms. At present it is advisable to use a guide and a 4×4 vehicle when visiting but in the near future the Reserve will be accessible from the west via a tar road presently being built. There are tracks which lead from one side of the forest to the other but they are narrow and can be obstructed by fallen trees. Unless travelling with a guide, it is best to park outside the forest and walk along the tracks through the forest. There are also plans to introduce visitor facilities and open more hiking trails. The completion of these projects will make this beautiful sanctuary a lot more accessible to visitors.