Birding tours

This morning we took a wonderful walk from Umkhumbi Lodge around the walking trails of Kuleni Game Park. The sun was shining, there was a gentle breeze and the air was full of birdsong. I heard a Gorgeous Bushshrike, a Red-chested Cuckoo, Sombre Greenbul, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove and a Green-backed Camaroptera (which will always be to me a Bleating Warbler). It reminded me that we are truly in a great birding hotspot, and that Umkhumbi Lodge makes a perfect stop on any birding tour of South Africa.

twinspot (3)The bird species list for Umkhumbi Lodge is substantial and includes an impressive number of exciting specimens including the Narina Trogon, Eastern Nicator, Bearded Scrub-robin and Pink-throated Twinspot. On our night time birding trips we regularly find Wood Owls and Fiery-necked Nightjars. See the bottom of the page for our bird list, which we are regularly adding to. This morning we saw African Hoopoe, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, the Bleating Warbler and Bearded Scrub-Robin, Tambourine Dove, Crested Guineafowl and many more.

Bird-watching near Umkhumbi Lodge: False Bay, Mkhuze Game Reserve and Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park

False Bay

Flamingos at False Bay 110 minutes’ drive away is the often overlooked False Bay Nature Reserve, part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which is a long thin strip of stunning Sandforest on the Western Shore of Lake St Lucia. A recent short walk along the trails there awarded us the African Broadbill and the Brown-hooded Parrot, and down at the lake we saw Greater Flamingos and a Long-crested Eagle. Birding groups often head to False Bay to find more water birds and endemic species such as the Neergaard’s Sunbird, and are often successful in their search!

Mkhuze Game Reserve

common waxbill croppedThis makes another wonderful day trip from Umkhumbi Lodge, especially for birders, as their bird species list numbers a mind-boggling 450 or so. Mkhuze Game Reserve is one of the top 10 birding destinations in South Africa, and is right on our doorstep! A day trip to Mkhuze often awards a species count of over 100, and often up to around 200 for the day. The reason for this is a diverse range of habitats, suiting a huge variety of species.

Mkhuze Game Reserve is also part of the greater iSimangaliso Wetland Park which stretches up the coastline from Maphelane in the south to Kosi Bay and the Mozambique border in the north, encompassing Lake St Lucia, Sodwana Bay, Mabibi and Sibaya.

African BroadbillThe Mkhuze section is accessible from the east, off the R22, or from the west, off the N2 highway. It has a good network of tarred and dirt roads which have recently been improved, but the access roads are in fairly poor condition at the moment. You can get there with any vehicle, though the going may be slow in smaller cars, but after heavy rains the going can be challenging.

Click here for more information on Mkhuze Game Reserve or see our previous news article.

Mkhuze is a game reserve in its own right, with a great deal of wildlife finding a home here. However, game viewing can sometimes be poor, so for animal sightings, we recommend a safari into Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park.

Hluhluwe iMzolozi Park

Grey sunbirdThis is a stunning Game Reserve, with beautiful scenery full of hills and valleys. Safaris into Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park can produce amazing wildlife sightings. It has the Big 5 (Elephant, Lion, Rhino, Buffalo and Leopard) as well as many of the iconic African animals, including giraffe, zebra, impala, wild dogs, cheetahs etc.

Birding at Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park is also excellent. It’s thrilling to see a Martial Eagle soaring above or several species of vulture at a kill. Lilac-breasted Rollers are commonly seen, Natal Spurfowl, blue Waxbills and Crested Barbets are just a few other examples.

You can self drive into Hluhluwe Park or take a guided safari. See here for more information.

Purple-crested TuracoUmkhumbi Lodge offers comfortable accommodation of individuals, couples, families or small groups. We have up to 24 beds in air-conditioned chalets, all in the woodland on the hillside at Kuleni Game Park. With a restaurant and bar on site, and with these great birding and wildlife opportunities nearby, it’s a perfect spot to stay for a few days.

For more information or to make a reservation please visit

or our facebook page:


If you are interested in sunbirds, please see our newer Birding in Hluhuwe post.

Umkhumbi Lodge Bird list (updated 05/11/2018)

  • Bearded Scrub-Robin
  • Red-capped (Natal) Robin-Chat
  • White-browed Scrub-Robin
  • Brown Scrub Robin
  • Sombre Greenbul
  • Terrestrial Brownbul
  • Yellow-bellied Greenbul
  • Dark-capped (Blackeyed) Bulbul
  • Olive Sunbird
  • Collared Sunbird
  • Grey Sunbird
  • Scarlet-chested Sunbird
  • Purple-banded Sunbird
  • Amethyst sunbird
  • Glossy Starling
  • Black-bellied Starling
  • Violet-backed Starling
  • Red winged Starling
  • Goldentailed Woodpecker
  • Cardinal Woodpecker
  • Green-winged Pytilia
  • Bluebilled Firefinch
  • Redbilled Firefinch
  • Magpie Mannikin
  • Redbacked mannikin
  • Village Indigobird
  • Blue Waxbill
  • Grey Waxbill
  • Common Waxbill
  • Pink-throated Twinspot
  • Green Twinspot
  • Wood owl
  • African Goshawk
  • Bathawk
  • Black-shouldered Kite
  • Bataleur Eagle
  • Yellow Billed Kite
  • Little Sparrowhawk
  • Crested Guineafowl
  • Helmeted Guineafowl
  • Crested Francolin
  • Water Thick-knee
  • Red-eyed Dove
  • Cape Turtle Dove
  • Tambourine Dove
  • Emerald-spotted Wood Dove
  • African Green Pigeon
  • Gorgeous Bushshrike
  • Olive Bush-shrike
  • Black Cuckooshrike
  • Grey Cuckooshrike
  • Orangebreasted Bushshrike
  • Grey-headed Bushshrike
  • Ashy (Bluegrey) Flycatcher
  • African Paradise Flycatcher
  • Pale (Mousecoloured) Flycatcher
  • Bluemantled Crested-Flycatcher
  • African Emerald Cuckoo
  • Redchested Cuckoo
  • Diederik’s cuckoo
  • Fork Tailed Drongo
  • Square Tailed Drongo
  • Trumpeter Hornbill
  • Crowned Hornbill
  • Barn swallow
  • Grey-rumped Swallow
  • Speckled Mousebird
  • Redfaced Mousebird
  • Spectacled Weaver
  • Dark-backed (Forest) Weaver
  • Brown-hooded Kingfisher
  • Pygmy Kingfisher
  • Red-fronted Tinkerbird
  • Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird
  • Cape White eye
  • African Yellow white-eye
  • Yellow-breasted Apalis
  • Rudd’s Apalis
  • African Hoopoe
  • Green (Red-billed) Wood-Hoopoe
  • Eastern Nicator
  • Kurrichane Thrush
  • Longbilled Crombec
  • Burchelle’s Coucal
  • Green Malkoha
  • Woolly Necked Stork
  • Tawny-flanked Prinia
  • Hadeda Ibis
  • Hamerkop
  • Purple Crested Touraco
  • Narina Trogon
  • Lilac-breasted Roller
  • European Roller
  • Broad-billed Roller
  • Southern Boubou
  • Redbilled Quelea
  • White-breasted Cormorant
  • Fiery-necked Nightjar
  • Mozambican Nightjar
  • European Bee-eater
  • Green Coucal
  • Scalythroated Honeyguide
  • Black Backed Puffback
  • Green backed Camaroptera
  • Southern Black Tit
  • Yellow-fronted Canary
  • Rattling Cisticola
  • Redbilled Oxpecker
  • African Pied Wagtail
  • Greater honeyguide
  • Brubru
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