Eshowe Dlinza Forest
Unique in Southern Africa, and exclusive to Eshowe, is the Dlinza Forest Aerial Boardwalk. Built of natural timber, the boardwalk takes you 125m through the forest just below the canopy, which is 10m above the forest floor. The boardwalk itself is wheelchair friendly up to the steel observation tower, which is 20m high and unfortunately inaccessible to wheelchairs.
Visit the forest and let the Aerial Boardwalk reveal for you the magical bird life, indigenous trees, busy insects and precious flowers. Take notice of the things like textures of bark, twisted vines, roots of strangler figs, Epiphytic Orchids and the odd bird's nest. The 20m high viewing platform, which emerges above the canopy of the trees offers a panoramic view towards the Indian Ocean, over the tops of magnificent Flat Crown, Giant Umzimbeet and Forest Iron Plum, yet still smell sweet blossoms and watch butterflies sip nectar at close range.
The best time to visit is early morning when the bird calls echo across the valley. There are currently two marked trails in the forest, starting with at visitor center, with a deviation to Bishop's Seat. Trees are labeled on both trails.
The IMPUNZI trail is an easy 20 minute round trip from the Visitors Center and takes you past majestic Fluted Milkwood, Giant Umzimbeet and Wild Plum.
The UNKONKA trail reaches deeper into the forest and is an easy 30 minute walk, joining the Impunzi trail near its end. Along the way you will cross the headwaters of the Mpushini River, where you may see spoor of the Blue Duiker, or the green-banded swallowtail sipping from the pool. Weave under great gnarled stems of vines, while listening carefully for the Green Malkoha or Chorister Robins as they search for food amongst the abundant fruits, flowers and insects of the forest.
The Dlinza Forest is home to more than 65 species of birds including the endangered Spotted Ground Thrush, the rare Eastern Bronze Naped Pigeon, magnificent Purple-crested Lourie and Narina Trogon, to name only a few. African Crowned Eagles are frequently seen from the viewing platform as they soar high above the forest.
Dlinza Forest is a popular birdwatching destination and is part of the Zululand Birding Route. In addition to the birds, there are over 80 species of butterfly and many more moths, the rare tiny Clifden's Centipeded Snail (found only here), millipedes, frogs, and chameleons - in fact, a host of interesting animal life.
From Durban travel north on the N2 until the Dokodweni offramp, signposted Gingindlovu, Eshowe and Ulundi. The road number is R66. Pay your R10,00 toll fee at Dokodweni and head up the R66 to Eshowe which is about 24km from the toll gate. Ignore the first turning into Eshowe, and turn left into the second turning into Eshowe (this will be at the only set of traffic lights on the R66). If you are coming from the north, from either Melmoth or Empangeni, take the second right into Eshowe (yes, there are 3 entrances into Eshowe from the R66, excluding farms and small holdings).
The road you are now traveling on in a westerly direction is Kangella Street. After about 2km you will pass the Eshowe High School (look out for Bald Ibis on the sports fields) on your left and just a little further you will see the Dlinza Forest sign posts clearly showing you where to turn off.
The Boardwalk is open daily with the exception of Christmas Day and Easter Sunday. Visiting hours are: In summer (1st September to 30th April) from 06h00 to 18h00. In winter (1st May to 31st August) from 07h00 to 17h00.
Should potential visitors/birders wish to visit at times different from the above, please contact the Boardwalk Manager on +27 (0) 35 474 4029 or firstname.lastname@example.org and make the necessary arrangements.