The Fig Forest Walk along the uMkhuze River is truly enchanting. A guided walk through it is a must for any visitor to uMkhuze. The best time to go is in the morning, however all the morning walks were fully booked so we had to settle for the afternoon walk.
After meeting our guide, Patrick Mathe and along with a few other visitors at Reception we climbed onto a game vehicle and headed for the forest. All along the way Patrick kept us informed on the various birds and animals we passed. Now again he would stop for something very special like the tiny Suni.
The path leading to the forest is through a woodland area. The path in inself is beautiful, filled with butterflies, bugs or all sorts not to mention birds. The only sound I could hear was the calls of birds calling and the buzzing of insects. Suddenly a frighteningly loud bark of baboons stopped us in our tracks. They sounded as if they were right next to us. Patrick didn’t seem too concerned so why should we be. Still looking over shoulder, I tentatively followed the group hoping like crazy not to bump into one of these fellows.
The entrance to the forest is by a swing bridge over one of the inlets of the uMkuze River. Now I know why it’s called a ‘swing bridge’. Only three people can cross at a time and with each step the bridge sways. Left, right, left, right again. Scary, but fun. Due to the heavy rains the river was flowing quickly. Patrick was concerned that we might not be able to get into the forest, my heart sank into my gloriously unfashionable hiking sandals. After much deliberating, he decided to take a bit of a detour. There was no path as such – quite thrilling in itself. I felt like I was REALLY in Africa. The bush was thick, lush and full of life. Bird calls made our heads spin, was really exciting.
Eventually we got back onto the path and made our way to the spectacular boardwalk and aerial platforms. The platforms are built in such a way that they do not spoil the forest. Each platform is built at a different height and face various directions of the forest. Needless to say we headed for the highest platform first (about 14m up) – like I have not had enough excitement already.
I felt like I was REALLY in Africa. The bush was thick, lush and full of life.
The massive sycamore fig trees are worth admiring. Some of them are over a hundred years old and have withstood many droughts and floods. They provide fruit constantly and so the area is popular with both birds and animals.
We saw amazing birds (sadly not the Pels), but some of the highlights were the Trumpeter Hornbill, Walberg’s Eagle, Osprey, Brown Headed Parrots, a pair of white-backed vultures on a nest and the Broad-billed Roller.
Back at the vehicle Patrick was in a playful mood and we all enjoyed a good laugh as he wore a mask of an elephant and trumpeted waving his ‘trunk’ at us before driving us back to camp.
I don’t think my visit to uMkhuze would be complete without a walk through this enchanting forest. Sometime I think the Pels Fishing Owl is a figment of someone’s imagination as I have never seen it here, but a few of my friends have so I guess I need to keep on visiting and hoping.
Just remember the following:
- You have to go with a guide
- You need to book at Reception
- I recommend you book when you check in. This walk is very popular and if you don’t book quickly you may just miss out.
It is also so much better than being at home.
See related blogs :
What you need to know when visiting Mkuze Game Reserve
Day 3 – Morning around Nsumu Pan