Holiday-makers in search of adventure have been flocking to Kwazulu-Natal for many years, seeking safari thrills in the state’s stunning nature reserve. Those with a particular interest in bird-watching, however, are in for a real treat on a trip to Mtunzini, where many rare birds have been sighted nesting and feeding in the dense forests.

What to See

Mtunzini is part of the Southern Zululand Birding Route, which includes 14 interweaving networks across three regions in Zululand where twitchers can engage local guides to help them locate and identify some of the 600 or more species of birds native to the area. The main attraction that brings birdwatchers flocking to Mtunzini is the Palm Nut Vulture. This incredibly rare bird of prey is an Old World vulture and is unusual because, as its name suggests, it mainly feeds on the fruit of the oil palm native to the Mtunzini forests. A walk to the Rafia Palm monument allows birdwatchers and naturalists to wander along the raised boardwalk amongst the trees and spot the vulture and other birds in their natural habitat.

Although the Palm Nut Vulture is the biggest draw for birdwatchers visiting South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal, lucky birders may also be able to see some other species typical to the area such as the African Broadbill, Livingstone’s Turacos and Southern Banded Snake Eagle. Rare birds that can be seen in and around Mtunzini can also include endangered species of albatross, penguin and crane. Some spectacular finds if you can see them are some of South Africa’s stunning birds of prey, such as the Lappet-faced Vulture and Greater Spotted Eagle.

Where to Stay

Mtunzini has some fantastic accommodation with wildlife reserves right on the doorstep. The Mtunzini Forest Lodge is right on the birding trail and is set in the heart of the lush forest. With 22 wooden chalets, the forest lodge offers visitors a private sundeck and barbeque area at each chalet for the perfect place to relax after a hard day on the trail.  For a more full-service accommodation experience, try the Mtunzini Bed and Breakfast. Set up on the hills above the coast, rooms offer spectacular views of the sunset over the sea and the owners offer guided tours of the local area, including tours tailored to birdwatchers seeking the rare and beautiful birds of the area.

Other Activities

Although Mtunzini is best known for its wildlife and its birds in particular, there are plenty of other diversions to keep you occupied. Given its coastal location, Mtunzini has over 40 kilometres of beach which is popular with tourists and locals alike. The name Mtunzini translates as “place in the shade” on account of the forests that fringe the coast, and it makes for a very comfortable place to stay with lots of shelter from the strong South African sunshine during the hot summer days. Its location close to the equator also means that the temperature never drops below 18o Celsius so it’s a perfect destination all year round. Both the sea and the lagoons in the area are perfect for those who love to fish, and there are plenty of excursions available for keen fishermen and women to take to the water and catch some fish. The natural parkland around Mtunzini is a beautiful place for walking and hiking, and guided walking tours are available all year round.


Although Mtunzini isn’t one of the first places that may spring to mind when planning a trip to South Africa, a vacation at a homestay in Mtunzini, would be a paradise for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. You might want to travel in the area, so click on this link for great car rental deals. If you want the chance to see some of the world’s rarest birds, you can do no better. Image Credits: Wikipedia 1 & 2.