Ndumo is a small reserve on the Mozambique border. We'd first heard about it from a couple we met on out Indian Ocean Islands cruise. It was very peaceful with just 7 rondavals and a campsite with a dozen sites - never more than 3 other sites being used for the 3 nights that we spent there.

There had several guided walks on offer. We went on an early morning (6.30am) walk from the camp down to the Pongola RIver and then followed the river along for several kilometres. We saw several Wildebeest, Impala and Nyala in the water meadows near the river and could hear plenty of birds but catching sight of then in the thick forest was another matter! Our guide, Sonto, was able to identify them by their song and was also able to mimic many of them. On a couple of occasions he managed to get them to come closer to us. We hadn't realised that male and female have a slightly different call but once he'd pointed it out we could tell the difference.

One afternoon we spent an hour at a hide overlooking a small pool. There were plenty of birds about and we saw 4 different types of herons. There were also some crocodiles who cruised past, moving very slowly .


Squacco heron.

Just before sunset we went to a different hide overlooking a much larger lake. There was a large group of spoonbills alongside some egrets, herons and pelican on the water and plenty of noisy storks in the trees.


There were several gravel roads to follow through the reserve plus one 4x4 trail which wound through the trees near the Usuthu RIver. It was a bit rutted in some parts but apart from that relatively easy to travel along.

Next to one of the tracks was a signpost to a hide so we followed it to a parking area. We couldn't see the hide but there were a couple of trails. The first one led to the toilet... and the other one down to the river where we could see a group of hippo - but no hide in sight.

One of the hippos noticed us and started snorting and heading across the river towards us, at which point we beat a hasty retreat back to the truck!

The hippos in the river just before they noticed us.

We had lunch at the Red Cliffs picnic spot overlooking the Usuthu River - the opposite bank is Mozambique.

These mongooses were just about to make their way down to the river but were frightened off by a noisy hadeda ibis.

There were a couple of fish eagles sitting in the trees overlooking the river on the South African bank. Later we saw a great eagle owl fly up to sit at the top of a tree on the Mozambique side of the river. Immediately the fish eagles took off and flew towards the owl. The first one tried, unsuccessfully, to dislodge it and then the second one got hold of the owl (nearly as big as the fish eagle) and they both tumbled out of sight. A little later the 2 fish eagles returned to 'their' side of the river but we never saw the owl again.

We thought that we could hear voices in the distance which gradually became clearer. We were then able to see a couple of women collecting firewood amongst the trees on the Mozambique side of the river. Later they spent a long time fishing in the river.

1. Umlalazi

2. False Bay

3. Ndumo

4. Cape Vidal

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Animals seen:

red duiker

Birds seen:

fish eagle
greenback heron
squacco heron
grey heron
purple heron
goliath heron
yellowbilled stork
hadeda ibis
blackwinged stilt
crested guineafowl
laughing dove
burchell's coucal
giant eagle owl
black saw-wing swallow
giant kingfisher
pied kingfisher
crowned hornbill
cardinal woodpecker
pied wagtail
forktailed droongo
southern black tit
bearded robin
longbilled crombic
chinspot batis
redbilled helmetshrike
white helmetshrike
collared sunbird
forest weaver