Ngoye, oNgoye, Ongoye – no matter how you spell it or pronounce it, with an estimated 605 bird species this is regarded as one of the gems along the Zululand Birding Route.
This is reputedly the only place in the world where the rare Woodward’s barbet or green barbet is found. Located only 150 kilometres north of Durban, between Mtunzini, Eshowe and Empangeni, makes this a very accessible destination, along a culturally rich part of KZN. It is wise to note though that a 4×4 vehicle is required due to the condition of the roads.
A reserve of almost 4000 hectares, the dense forest is on a ridge of hills overlooking the Indian Ocean. Trees reaching up to 30m in hight share the area with ancient cycads, orchids, epiphytic ferns and other rare plants. It is here that one of the rarest plants in the world, the Wood’s Cycad, was last found that is now extinct in the wild since the early 1900’s.
Amongst the animals found here is the samango monkey, bushbabies, babboons and mongoos, as well as the elusive blue duiker. Endemic to the forest is the Ngoye red squirrel, whilst the unique and rare Forest Green Butterfly can also be found. Found in abundance is the Zululand dwarf chameleon.
A permit is required to visit the site, and a gate fee and community levy is charged, although both at a nominal fee. While tourism is feared to have a possible negative impact on this unique area, the rural community rely on the forest as their main natural resource. A community project is underway to aid in providing the means of improvement in their socio-economic development, whilst ensuring the sustainability of the reserve.