Mkuzi Game Reserve
The Mkuzi Game Reserve (area 34,644ha/85,570ac), established in 1912, is reached from Durban by way of N 2, turning off at an exit (signposted) 35km/22mi north of Hluhluwe. The reserve is particularly worth visiting for its varied topography and large numbers of birds. It lies in a plain between the Lebombo Mountains on the west and the dense forests bordering the Mkuzi River on the east. Coastal dunes alternate with wooded steppe, gallery forests with open grassland savanna. The original flora has largely been preserved.Nowhere else in South Africa can such rich bird life within a relatively small area be seen. More than 410 species are represented here, including ten species of heron, cormorants, fish eagles, the rare black-winged plover and saddle-bill storks. Notable among the mammals are the two species of rhinoceros, black and white. There are also large numbers of ante- lopes (particularly impalas), gazelles, blue wildebeests, giraffes, zebras,hippopotamuses and crocodiles. Elephants are in process of being re-established in the reserve.In this region, near the east coast of South Africa, it becomes very hot in summer and air humidity is also high. Weather conditions are better in winter, which is also a better time for observing game, since the vegetation is then less dense. The reserve is, however, open throughout the year from sunrise to sunset.It should be borne in mind that there is a malaria risk in this region.The camp in the reserve has accommodation for visitors in simple huts and rather more comfortable cottages and on a camping site. There is also a filling station.The reserve can be explored by car on the Auto Trail, a network of tracks with a total length of 80km/50mi. From the camp an unsurfaced road runs southeast to the Nsumopan, where the reserve's bird life can be observed at close quarters from a viewing platform. The parking lot is the starting-point of the Mkuzi Fig Forest Walk (3km/2mi), which crosses a suspension bridge to enter a forest of fig trees. Many of the wild fig trees have a girth of 12m/39ft, and some old trees are 25m/80ft high. The figs ripen at different times on different trees, thus providing food throughout the year for birds and herbivorous animals. If this brief walk gives you a taste for the wilderness you can join an all-day hike led by an experienced game warden.