The iGwala Gwala Nature Reserve is located in the far northern reaches of KwaZulu-Natal, along the Louwsberg leg of the Zululand Birding Route. This Heritage Site is just outside of Ithala Game Reserve and about an hour’s drive from Vryheid. The reserve is a biodiversity hotspot, with riverine and other forests in the lower parts attracting a diverse range of birds. Among the most notable species found here are three robin subspecies: red-capped, white-throated, and Cape-robin. The reserve is also home to the purple-crested turaco, which gives the reserve its name, and its loud calls can be heard throughout.
Aside from the abundant birdlife, the reserve is home to sedge-infested wetlands, which attract red-chested flufftails and their early morning calls. The reserve's grasslands are also home to the secretary bird, yellow-throated longclaw, and red-throated wryneck. The reserve is not only for birders; visitors can also see blue wildebeest, kudu, nyala, reedbuck, and blesbuck, as well as rare, endemic plant species.
The iGwala Gwala Nature Reserve is a seasonal delight depending on what safari-goers want to see. The area’s natural beauty is a large part of its attraction and the rainy season always brings the great outdoors to life. This season is generally between October and April, while the dry season runs from May to September. For wildlife viewing, the dry season is the best time to visit, while birding is generally best in the warmer summer months between September and April. Many of the sites along the route are easily accessible via good roads, but drivers should be aware that gravel roads may become impassable during the wet season, limiting access to a few sites.
iGwala Gwala Nature Reserve has a plethora of activities for nature lovers and adventurers. Birdwatching is a popular activity because the reserve is home to a diverse range of bird species, including three subspecies of robin and the purple-crested turaco. Visitors can join guided birdwatching tours to learn more about the various species and their habitats, or they can explore on their own using a bird identification guide.
Game viewing is another popular activity, as the reserve is home to a variety of species such as blue wildebeest, kudu, nyala, reedbuck, and blesbuck. Visitors can go on guided game drives or self-drive safaris to see the wildlife in their natural habitat.
Hiking and nature walks are also popular activities at iGwala Gwala. Visitors can explore the reserve's various habitats and ecosystems, which include riverine and other forests, wetlands, and grasslands. There are also guided hikes and nature walks available, led by skilled guides who can provide information about the reserve's flora and fauna.
There are plenty of accommodation options in the area.