Situated in southern Zululand, near the town of Eshowe, are the beautiful indigenous forests around Entumeni. These forests consist almost entirely of coastal scarp forest with a few glades of grassland. Known for their birds, moths (home of the Miller’s Tiger), butterflies and plants, the forests are also home to a number of mammal species.
Local farmers belonging to the Eshowe-Entumeni Conservancy have formed a partnership with KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife to manage the two reserves. This has now realized a long held dream of joining the two forests with a hiking trail, called “Prince Dabulamanzi Trail” named after one of the Zulu Princes who lived in the area during and before the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879. The trail starts in Dlinza, winds its way through beautiful forests and streams on the farms, into Entumeni Forest and ends up on Dreadnought Farm. In time, the trail will be extended to Mbongolwane Wetland, situated within the tribal lands of the Ntuli Clan, which are to the west of Eshowe.
Dreadnought Farm and Walking Trail
From Eshowe, take the Entumeni/Nkandla road and after 13.2 km turn left at the Entumeni Nature Reserve signpost. Travel a further 8.4 km and turn right onto the D397 road. Proceed for 4.4 km and you will pass Farm Watch sign 9.6 and the signboard “Mr L Gunter”. Continue down a steep decline, cross the first stream and just after the second stream, turn right.
Park in the parking area. Listen for the African Crowned Eagle. On the walk, look for African Crested Flycatcher, Mountain Wagtail, African Black Duck, Grey Waxbill, Purple-crested Turaco, Black-bellied Starling, Dusky and Ashy Flycatchers. Scaly-throated Honeyguides are not uncommon. After you have walked past a clump of orange Clivia minitia (early spring flowering), keep a watch for African Finfoot, Half-collared Kingfisher, Green Malkoha, woodpeckers and bulbuls. The walk ends at a picturesque waterfall.
There is a variety of rustic accommodation and spectacular scenery on Dreadnought Farm.
Entumeni Forest Reserve
No permit is required. Situated west of Eshowe, drive through Eshowe along Kangella Street in the Nkandla direction. After 13.2 km turn left and continue for 3.5 km where you will find the entrance and picnic site on the right.
Established in 1970, this 750 ha reserve consists largely of a gorge covered by forest.
A visit to this reserve is advised only for the fit as the two trails are both situated on steep terrain. There are no facilities other than a clearing in the forest with two picnic tables. The two trails begin at this clearing.
The uPiti Trail is a circular route and takes approximately 2 hours to complete. The Ukhozi Trail takes approximately 4 hours. The Ukhozi Trail covers some beautiful but strenuous terrain. The half-way is at a spectacular waterfall on the Ngoje stream. At this point the rare Mountain Wagtails are often observed along the stream.
Birds similar to those seen in Dlinza Forest may be found, but you might also see African Broadbill, Rameron Pigeon, Brown Scrub-robin, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler and Black Cuckoo. On the forest edge, look for Drakensberg Prinia, Lazy and Croaking Cisticolas and Southern Tchagra. Listen for Shelley’s Francolin. Two pairs of African Crowned Eagles are regularly seen and heard flying over the forest.
As with the Dlinza Forest, both blue duiker and bushbuck occur in the forest. The grasslands in the reserve are home to a herd of zebra.
This forest has a particularly high and impressive canopy provided by trees such as the Giant Umzimbeet, Wild Plum and Flatcrowns. Those in turn provide shade for the numerous colonies of plants such as Cycads and Clivias on the forest floor.
A rare moth, the Miller’s Tiger, which was thought to be extinct, was recently discovered in the grasslands of the Entumeni Forest.