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Empisini Nature Reserve, Umkomaas, KwaZulu-Natal

Empisini Nature Reserve KwaZulu Natal

The Empisini Nature Reserve is just inland from Umkomaas on the KwaZulu-Natal Coast and only 11km from the sea.  This is a 60ha Nature Reserve, 25 of these hectares remain untouched and in a pristine state. The Empisini Nature Reserve allows you a complete escape, highlights include an overnight stay in a “tree house” (with the added adventure of no electricity), picnic sites enclosed by nature and spectacular walks and hiking trails which leads visitors through various habitats of the reserve, providing outstanding opportunities for bird watching.


Empisini Nature Reserve is home to prolific bird life and an incredible forest area that runs along the Empisini stream. Common birds that can be spotted are, Black Sparrow Hawk, Narina Trogon, Knysna Turaco, African Emerald Cuckoo, Trumpeter Hornbill, African Black Duck, Natal Francolin Little Bee-eater Burchell’s Coucal, Collared Sunbird, Black Flycatcher, Tinker Barbet, White-browed Robin, Brownhooded Kingfisher, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Purple Crested Lourie, Black Saw-wing Swallow, Spotted Thrush, Sombre Bulbul, Natal Robin, Common Waxbill and Forest Weaver.

Fauna and Flora

Vegetation in the Umkomaas area is lush at the best of times, alongside the entrance to the reserve is an expansive marshland and nearer to the picnic site, lays an exquisite natural wetland. The grassy southern slopes are scattered with Acacia Trees. Cheesewood, Pigeonwood and Red Beech trees can be found along the wetland trail.

Trees found at the waterfall are Small-Leafed Jackal-Berry, Natal Milkplum and Natal Bush Milkwood.  Around the running stream, Pheasant-Berry and Natal Camwood and nearby, the damp forest has 3 dominant species, the Broad-Leafted Quince, the Quinine tree and the smaller Pistol bush. While along the main trail you will find the White Stinkwood and the False White Stinkwood.

Blue duiker, bushbuck, bush pig, vervet monkey, otter, mongoose and several species of bats can be found in the coastal forest reserve.

Empisini, the name of the stream, means ‘the place of the hyena’ in Zulu. It flows through the valley, and despite its reference to the hyena, you won’t have to worry about them during relaxing walks and family picnics – hyenas are not found here.

Bird lists and maps are available on request from the reserve management.


Day visitors can enjoy the picnic and braai areas alongside the stream.  While overnight visitors can enjoy the large wooden “tree house” which can be found deep within the forest and adjacent to the Empisini Stream (sleeping up to 16 people), comes complete with shower, flush toilet and kitchen sink.  For the less adventurous there are two cabins.

Bookings: Telephone +27 (0) 33 973 0093.  EmailWebsite:

Find: From the N2 take the Umkomaas – Widenham off-ramp. At the stop street turn left, then travel a few hundred meters to the first left. Turn signposted Saiccor. Continue down a steep hill for just over 1km, turn left at the T- junction at the bottom of the hill. Follow the track for about 400m to the parking and picnic area.

More info on the town of Umzinto More info on the Umdoni Coast area

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