Nestled in the far northern reaches of KwaZulu-Natal, along the Louwsberg leg of the Zululand Birding Route, lies the relatively unknown iGwala Gwala Nature Reserve. This registered Heritage Site is located just outside of Ithala Game Reserve and is an hour’s drive from Vryheid.
The reserve is a haven for biodiversity, boasting tracts of riverine and other forest in the lower parts that attract a wide variety of birds. Some of the most notable species that can be found here include three subspecies of robin – the red-capped, white-throated and Cape robin. The reserve is also home to the purple-crested turaco, from which it gets its name, and their loud calls can be heard throughout the reserve.
In addition to the rich birdlife, the reserve is also home to wetlands overrun with sedge, which attract red-chested flufftails and their early morning hooting calls. Grasslands in the reserve are also home to the secretary bird, yellow-throated longclaw and red-throated wryneck.
But the reserve is not just for birders, visitors can also see game such as blue wildebeest, kudu, nyala, reedbuck and blesbuck and rare, endemic plant species.
Popular Activities at iGwala Gwala Nature Reserve
iGwala Gwala Nature Reserve offers a variety of activities for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. One of the most popular activities is birdwatching, as the reserve is home to a wide variety of bird species, including three subspecies of robin and the purple-crested turaco. Visitors can take guided birdwatching tours to learn more about the different species and their habitats, or explore on their own with the aid of a bird identification guide.
Another popular activity is game viewing, as the reserve is home to a variety of game species such as blue wildebeest, kudu, nyala, reedbuck, and blesbuck. Visitors can take guided game drives to see these animals in their natural habitat, or go on a self-drive safari.
Hiking and nature walks are also popular activities at iGwala Gwala Nature Reserve. Visitors can explore the different habitats and ecosystems of the reserve, such as the riverine and other forest, wetlands, and grasslands. Guided hikes and nature walks are also available, led by knowledgeable guides who can provide insight into the reserve’s flora and fauna.
Wilderness Adventures at iGwala Gwala Nature Reserve
For those looking for a bit more adventure, nearby is Ngome Forest which is located in the heart of a Wilderness Area. Visitors can explore the forest on foot, taking in the sights and sounds of the forest and its inhabitants. The forest is also popular for hiking and mountain biking.
iGwala Gwala Nature Reserve is a great destination for those interested in birdwatching, game viewing, hiking, and nature walks. The reserve is also close to other natural attractions like Ngome Forest which offer more options for adventure and exploration.
For those looking to explore more of the area, about an hour’s drive south of iGwala Gwala is the Ngome Forest, located in the heart of a Wilderness Area. Whether you are a bird enthusiast or simply looking to explore the natural beauty of KwaZulu-Natal, the iGwala Gwala Nature Reserve is a must-see destination.