Bonamanzi Game Park
Bonamanzi is a self-contained wildlife and birders' paradise in close proximity to the Isimangaliso Wetland Park Wetlands Park and other world-renowned Zululand game reserves. Bonamanzi is considered to be one of South Africa's best birding spots with 350 species listed in the reserve.
Head north along the N2 from Mtubatuba. Take the Bushlands off-ramp and turn right. Follow this road past Bushlands; about 10km from the off-ramp, the Bonamanzi gate is sign-posted.
After turning onto the entrance road, and before crossing the cattle grate, stop and scan the trees, fences, and telephone lines for one of the Bonamanzi specials, the Lemon-breasted Canary. It occurs in small flocks, and is often also seen on the road as well. Look in lala palms for this special species.
The area just inside the gate is a prime spot for finding Swamp Nightjar at night time. It can be heard calling in this area, especially in the wetter periods. Its "chop chop chop chop " call is heard on moonlit nights, and it can be seen flying overhead. This species sometimes sits in the road, and can be spotted in the headlights of vehicles.
The drive from the gate into the reserve yields many bird species. Drive slowly with the windows down, and listen for Eastern Nicator, bulbuls, flycatchers, etc. Be especially on the lookout for Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher. In forest interior look for Crested Guineafowl and Crested Francolin.
From the reception area, drive towards Lalapanzi Camp, keeping a lookout on the drive for Lizard Buzzard, and the uncommon Honey Buzzard that is being seen more and more on this section. Shortly after exiting the forested part of the drive you will reach a parking spot from where you can walk to a hide. Park your vehicle, and make the 850 metre walk to the hide, keeping your ears open, and eyes peeled for a major special, the Pink-throated Twinspot, that frequents the dense stands of Sickle Bush which occurs on the walking trail. Listen carefully for its thin, quiet call.
Walk to the hide, and sit quietly, you might be rewarded with Pygmy Goose on the water. Pink-throated Twinspots also make an appearance at the hide from time to time. As you exit the hide, turn left onto the grassland. Scan the edges of the trees for the Southern Banded Snake Eagle that hunts along the tree line, or may be seen overhead. Also look for Brown Snake-Eagle, Black-breasted Snake-Eagle, Tawny Eagle and White-headed Vulture.
On the grasslands during wet periods, a walk in the grasslands can yield Black-winged and Lesser Black-winged Lapwings, usually in the late afternoon, or very early morning. These species are not common, but do occur if conditions are favourable. Also found in this habitat are Desert Cisticola, Lazy Cisticola, African Pipit and Black-bellied Bustard.
In the early morning walk from the hide parking area towards the reception area. At the entrance road to treehouses 5 and 6, listen for the African Broadbill. It calls for a very short peiod in the morning, and late afternoon. Please respect the privacy of the treehouse residents. In the grassy area between the Lalapanzi road and the forest, look for Grey Penduline-Tit.
Walking from the office/reception area towards the swimming pool, continue down the road to the campsite. Look in the densely vegetated areas for Green Malkoha, Rudd's Apalis and Yellow-breasted Apalis as well as the Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike.
From the office/reception area, take the C driving trail that heads towards the Hluhluwe river. Drive carefully, and as the road drops down to run next to the river, look out for Marsh and Grass Owls that may be flushed by your vehicle. Also keep a lookout for Black Coucal that occurs here from time to time. On the C drive, look out for Grey Tit-Flycatcher and Fiscal Flycatcher. On the forested parts of the drive look for Green Pigeon, Crowned Hornbill, and Olive Bush-Shrike.
The B-drive from the office/reception area offers all of the birds mentioned in the C-drive section, with the exception of the Owls.
Driving towards the Lalapanzi camp will lead you to the A-driving trail. This trail will take you through grasslands and acacia scrub. If driving at night, specials that may be seen are Spotted Eagle-Owl, Spotted Thick-knee, Blackbellied Bustard, and Common Ostrich. If driving this route during the day, look out for Cuckoo Hawk, Banded Harrier-Hawk, Secretarybird, Black-bellied Bustard, Various cisticolas, flycatchers and both Yellow-throated and Orange-throated Longclaws.
The drive through the Fever Tree Forest may yield sightings of a Yellow-bellied Eremomela.