Igwala Gwala Nature Reserve

This small, privately owned reserve lies just outside Ithala Game Reserve and contains a wealth of biodiversity. Mixed woodland, riverine forest, cliffs, grassland and wetlands are all packed together in a pocket-sized hotspot.

The property is a registered Natural Heritage Site.

The riverine forest, as well as the other forest and bush clumps in the lower half of the reserve, are home to three Robin-Chats: the Red-capped, White-throated and Cape. Purple-crested Turacos (after which the reserve is named) are common and noisy, showing off their bright red wings as they move between bush clumps. Mountain Wagtail is resident along the streams. Also look out for Orange-breasted and Olive Bush-Shrikes, Collared and Scarlet-chested Sunbirds, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Terrestrial Brownbul, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Cape Batis and Swee Waxbill in and around the forest patches.

The small sedge dominated wetlands hold resident Red-chested Flufftails; listen for their hooting call, especially in the early morning.

The lower altitude grasslands host Secretarybird, Red-throated Wryneck, Yellow-throated Longclaw and Croaking Cisticola.

The real highlights of iGwala gwala Nature Reserve are the birds occurring in the higher altitude grassland and forest areas. Endemics forest specials include Bush Blackcap, Greater and Southern Double-collared Sunbirds and Barratt’s Warbler.Broad-tailed Warbler is fairly common, as are Quail Finch, and other endemics such as Cape Longclaw, Cape Grassbird and Drakensberg Prinia. Zululand’s only Striped Flufftail site is here, listen for the hooting call in the rolling grassland, but good luck in seeing one!

Endemics associated with the cliffs and rocks include Jackal Buzzard, Buff-streaked Chat, Cape Rock Thrush and Bokmakierie.


Travelling from Vryheid in the west, take the R69 to Louwsburg. Turn off at the Ithala/Louwsburg signs, about 67km east of Vryheid. Drive through the town, following the Ithala signs all the way, until the iGwala gwala sign appears while traveling round a sharp bend. The road is tarred up to the gate of the reserve.