Founded on the 15th of February 1912, the Mkhuze (often also spelled Mkuze) Game Reserve's main claim to fame is the richness of its birdlife, with over 400 recorded species being found in the approximately 40 000 ha that the reserve covers.
It's located in Northern Zululand South Africa, about 335km (208 miles) from Durban along the N2 which is the main north coast road. The hides which overlook the pans and waterholes here are some of the best that you will find in any game area in Southern Africa particularly if your interests are wildlife and bird photography.
Even though the area is rightly famous for its bird watching opportunities, the diversity of habitats ensures a wide variety of animal life too.
The reserve management has been actively re-introducing species that previously occurred in this area like elephant, cheetah and wild dog.
A satellite map is a wonderful thing because you can magnify any part of it in high resolution to see exactly what's going on at ground level. Use the controls in the left hand corner or double click to get a closer look. You can clearly see the crescent shaped waterhole located close to the Nhlonhlela Lodge. Click on the icons to get the relevant descriptions...
Mkhuze Distance Calculator
Being small, the travel distances in the reserve are short. This calculator works out the distances and times from Mantuma rest camp to various points in the reserve.
There is an interior road network of about 100km (62 miles) and the portions that link Mantuma rest camp with the Mshopi entrance gate in the west and the Ophansi gate in the east are tarred. The road south from Mantuma rest camp is also tarred for 7.5 km (4.6 miles).
The rest of the roads are gravel and can be driven using a normal sedan vehicle during the dry winter months, but once the rainy season comes around it would be better to use a 4x4 vehicle to avoid getting stuck in the mud.
These mud holes, created by vehicles in the wet season that dry and set to create very uneven terrain at other times of the year, but if you drive slowly there will be no problem getting around.
Because the bird sighting opportunities are so phenomenal in Mkhuze it's better to go when the migratory species arrive back in Africa from mid October onwards to take full advantage of the birding bonanza.
This unfortunately doesn't coincide with the best time for wildlife viewing which is in the cooler, dry winter months of July to September. There is then less water occurring freely in the bush which means your chances of seeing wildlife at the waterholes is very good. Vegetation also thins out during the dry months which makes for easier wildlife watching.
Over the 90 plus years of the reserves existence it hasn't all been plain sailing. There have been threats from both poachers and the farming community who have encroached on the land for their own interests.
In the 1960s, Mkhuze Game Reserve played an instrumental part in helping save the white rhino when populations of these magnificent animals were relocated here from the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve for protection.
They did very well in the reserve until a recent severe drought affected them and a management decision was made to move the rhinos to the eastern shores of Lake St Lucia to ensure their survival. The drought has since broken and the population is recovering well.
Future plans for the reserve include dropping the fences with the direct neighbouring Phinda conservancy in an attempt to increase the area available for conservation.