Dlinza Forest Aerial Boardwalk
Of the many beautiful forests of Zululand, Dlinza – which is surrounded by the town of Eshowe – is probably the most accessible and is currently visited by birdwatchers from all over the world hoping to catch a glimpse of a rare bird species such as the Spotted Ground Thrush or Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon. The best perspective of the forest can be gained from the aerial boardwalk which takes visitors through the canopy of the forest and finally to a viewing tower which emerges above the trees and reveals a magnificent view of the surrounding countryside.
Early morning is the best time to visit Dlinza Forest when the forest echoes with the calls of Trumpeter Hornbills, Purple-crested Turacos and Narina Trogons.
As the day warms up the distinct chorus of the cicada beetles reverberates through the forest. Viewing the forest from the Aerial Boardwalk is a must but doing one of the two trails is also highly recommended for an amazing encounter with nature. Look out for the hollow Strangler Figs which are very popular with kids who manage to turn them into magical stairways and climbing walls.
Numerous tree markers along the trails provide interesting information about the trees and describe the traditional Zulu medicinal uses of the various trees.
Throughout the year, but especially in autumn, the butterflies are most impressive. As many as 70 species – including the Gaudy Commodore, Mocker Swallowtail and the Mother of Pearl – have been recorded in the 319-hectare forest. If you miss the butterflies in the forest, visitors can always visit the Butterfly Dome at the Fort Nongqayi Museum Village.
Birding guide, Nomusa Ntuli, is based at Dlinza Forest Aerial Boardwalk.
The Blue Duiker is the smallest antelope in southern Africa and can often be found foraging on the forest floor along the hiking trails.
The iMpunzi Trail (1,3kms) is an easy 30 minute round trip from the Visitor Centre and takes you past majestic Fluted Milkwoods, Giant Ironwoods and Wild Plum trees. Lookout for trees on the trails which are labelled and give a description of its uses in traditional medicine.
The uNkonka Trail (1,8kms) reaches deeper into the forest and is an easy 45 minute walk joining the iMpunzi Trail near its end. Along the way you will cross the source of the Mpushini river, where you may see antelope spoor or even encounter the Blue Duiker. Look out for blooming Clivia miniata flowers during Spring.
Bishop’s Seat is a beautiful clearing in the forest where one of the early Bishops of Eshowe, Bishop W M Carter, would come to ponder his next sermon.
It can be used as a venue for outdoor functions.
Royal Drive is a picturesque drive on a gravel road through the forest and was specially cleared for the British Royal Family’s visit to Eshowe in 1947.
Get a new perspective of life in the forest from the the 125-metre Aerial Boardwalk which leaves from the Visitor Centre and is soon in the leafy canopy high above the forest floor.
It is wheelchair friendly up to the final observation tower which is 20m high and offers superb views of the forest and the distant countryside.
There is a wealth of information – from birds to butterflies – on display in the Visitor Centre which will enrich your visit to this beautiful forest.
There is also a refreshment kiosk, wheelchair-friendly toilet facilities, birding hide and several picnic sites on the fringe of the forest near the car park.
Trained guides are available at the Centre and can be hired to accompany visitors along the boardwalk.