Dwesa / Cwebe


Tel: 043-7019600
Fax: 043-742 5566

Reservations Contact Number: 043 7019600

Reservations Fax: 086 6111623


Eastern Cape Tourism Board
Umtata Booking Office
Tel: (047) 5315290
Fax: (047)5315291

These two relatively small reserves, separated by the Mbashe River, are situated in the central Wild Coast. They are bordered on the one side by the Indian Ocean and on the other by rugged grasslands of the former Transkei. Both reserves are primarily covered by lowland forest but also support grasslands and acacia scrub. There are a total of 290 bird species recorded in the reserves, with at least a hundred to be found on a given visit. Being relatively under- birded, the number of known birds is ever increasing. Although a day will suffice in each reserve, at least three days is required/recommended to make the trip worthwhile.

The reserves remain relatively undeveloped with only footpaths giving access to the majority of areas. With both reserves being small, most places can be reached on foot. Care should however be taken that you can find your way out of the forests. There are a few trails that can be negotiated by 4x4 to shorten the walks.


Although the two reserves are very similar in habitat and vegetation and support many of the same small mammals and birds, Dwesa also contains a number of introduced game species, including red hartebeest, blesbok and blue wildebeest. Crocodiles have been re-introduced to the rivers and buffalo, eland and warthog once again roam the grassland and forest fringes.

Dwesa Nature Reserve is the bigger of the two reserves (3900ha) situated on the western side of the Mbashe River. There is a campsite and a few Chalets, beautifully situated adjacent a small estuary spilling into the ocean.

A blend of coastal forest, open grassland, winding rivers and a diverse coastline. Trails through lush forests make this a rambler's paradise. From the top of Kobole Point, there are magnificent views across the ocean where dolphins and whales are often seen.

The birdlife in this 3900-ha reserve includes such rarities as the Narina Trogon and Mangrove Kingfisher. A good selection of the forest specials should be easily located in and around the campsite and chalets. The best forest birding is done on the road to the reserve office. There is also a track leading north through the forest towards Mendu (ask at the Office for directions).

One should also walk through the grasslands around the office, where one can find Wailing Cisticola, Plainbacked Pipit, Broadtailed Warbler and Yellowthroated Longclaw. Look in the moist grassland around the estuary east of the campsite for Croaking Cisticola and a pair of Crowned Crane that frequent the area. Venturing further into Dwesa will take you to more extensive grasslands, especially around the Mendu estuary.

Accommodation is provided in the form of self-catering chalets and a camp site. There are five 5-bed chalets and three 4-bed chalets. All of these chalets have gas refrigerators and stoves. The camp site has 20 stands and communal ablution facilities.

There is also a caravan park/game lodge in Idutywa itself which can be contacted on +27 (0)47 499 0020 for further information.

A newly established nature reserve, Cwebe contains a variety of habitats - forest, grassland, mangrove and beach - which support a wide range of birds and small mammals. The Mbanyana River is an added attraction, with its spectacular waterfalls and beautiful lagoon where Cape Clawless Otters may be observed. The 2149ha reserve is bounded to the south by the Mbashe River and from here a sandy beach, popular with anglers and shell-collectors, stretches northward.

The best forest birding is done around the Mbanyana River causeway. Here one can find Halfcollared Kingfisher, Longtailed Wagtail, Narina Trogon, and Crowned Eagle. This area can be reached by following the 4x4 track running across the reserve; the turn-off to the track is approximately 500m after the gate to the Nature Reserve. The track also winds through some forest clearings, which provide excellent habitat for Broadtailed Warbler and Barratt??s Warbler. Following the road past the Haven takes you to some cottages and the mouth of the Mbanyana River. Among the moist grasslands are good places to look for Croaking Cisticola and Wailing Cisticola. The mouth of the Mbashe River plays host to Mangroves, Coastal forest and a small tern Colony.

Cwebe Nature Reserve also has a trail leading to a waterfall in the forest. The trail is well marked and the trip well worth it (ask for directions at the hotel).

The only accommodation currently offered in Cwebe Nature reserve is the Haven Hotel, which is situated about two kilometres from the Mbashe River, a popular spot for anglers. The rooms are all individual chalet style accommodation. Self-catering accommodation and a camping site are currently under development.


- Nature reserve
- Walking trails
- Bird watching
- Accommodation
- Fishing (in demarcated areas)
- 4x4 trails

How to get there

With these reserves being in the rural areas of the Transkei, the access roads, which are gravel, can be notoriously bad. All the roads however have recently been upgraded, making it accessible to all vehicles. This however may change after a few rainy seasons.

The turn-off to Dwesa is in the town of Idutya, 80km from Umtata. The turn-off is well signposted.

To get to Cwebe there is a turn-off 40km from Umtata that is sign-boarded Bityi/Elliotdale; here one should follow the signs to Elliotdale. After 19km along the gravel road there is a tarred road; immediately upon reaching the tar, take a right turn back onto gravel and follow the signs to The Haven Hotel. The Haven is another 45km along the same gravel road.

From Umtata one should follow the N2 towards Idutywa for 40km and from Idutywa follow the N2 towards Umtata for 49km and you will reach Cwebe.

Dwesa Nature Reserve:

Telephone: +27 (0)47 499 0073/22 or +27 (0)47 564 1177
Postal Address: Private Bag X1126, Port Elizabeth, 6000, South Africa

Cwebe Nature Reserve:

Telephone: +27 (0)47 576 0006/7
Fax: +27 (0)47 576 0008
Postal Address: Private Bag X1126, Port Elizabeth, 6000, South Africa


The rhino cull at Dwesa is a disgrace. Which idiots are running the Eastern Cape Parks Board??

I hope that people will boycott the Dwesi resort. these people are just out to make money and have incompeteant foreign hunters hunting there just to fill their FAT pockets. I wonder how many officials at the pARKS bOARD ARE GETTING A BACK HAND FOR THIS?

As far as I know, Dwesa was actually the first Nature Reserve along the Wild Coast to have successfully had land ownership reclaimed by the local community.

In other words, while EC Parks "manage" the reserves; a large portion of the profits, plus local employment opportunities go directly to the local community.

Boycotting Dwesa or the Wild Coast in general because of tragic governmental decisions is NOT GOING TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM!

Under the Mendwane agreement of 1995, the Dwesa-Cwebe Nature Reserves are to be jointly managed by the conservation authority and a committee of local residents. Under the land restitution claim resolved in 2001, a community Trust holds title to the reserves, which are leased by ECPB.

What decision-making process led to the rhino cull? Were community members consulted? Are they gaining any benefit from the proceeds of the cull?

Apparently there's an injured rhino running around, and it's unsafe for tourists.

50/50 will broadcast a programme on the hunt on SABC 2 at 7.30pm on June 8


I agree with your statement completely. A boycott harms the locals more than the government, pushes locals further into poverty and justifies the arguements for industrial development. Be responsible about who you visit there, learn more about the issues they are facing and what their concerns are, and then make your voice heard. Creating the market for community-led, environmentally responsible tourism, as well as micro-enterprises will be much more effective than a boycott.

The rhino culling by the Vietnamese  is a shocking story. I'm feeling disgusted about the whole issue and very dissapointed in the Eastern Cape Parks Board....you are a disgrace!!

The transcript of the 50/50 coverage on the Dwesa Rhino Culling is available here:


and, since 50/50 has just been taken off the air, possibly indefinitely, the transcript is also available here: http://www.wildcoast.com/node/728

PLEASE SIGN THE SAVE 50/50 PETITION HERE: http://www.save5050.co.za/

any latest news on road quality to dwesa? can one drive with normal car (low suspension).

It's been about 20 years since I drove to Dwesa, and then there was no problem getting there with a normal car. Most of the gravel roads on the Wild Coast have been pretty well maintained over the past couple of years, and I'm pretty certain Dwesa is no exception. Hopefully someone who has been there recently can confirm this.

thanks jeff. if anyone been there recently comment on the road will be appreciated. also any idea on what the chalets of ECNC at dwesa looks like? we have a booking and wondered if they are in a good condition, well located etc.

The Eastern Cape Parks closed Dwesa NR under the guise of a 'refurbishment' this past week to allow a hunt on white rhino to take place. Where is the environmental ethic of good custodianship over a protected species. 3 Rhino are killed illegally every week in SA and yet this province still contributes to the diminishing number of approxiamately 17 480 white rhino left on the planet! The Eastern Cape Parks are not fulfilling the objective of biodiversity conservation in this regard and need more competent decision makers to be employed. Likewise the powers that be should also appoint Board members who understand the complexities of biodiversity management in a global context.

Please STOP rhino hunting!!!!!!!!!!

We're looking for self catering accommodation for 4 adults from the 15 - 20 June 2010. Please could you forward me prices and more info on the units. Thanks, Sari 0732429329

The history is interesting!! The Dwesa-Cwebe Land Trust was created during local residents' struggle for land. Between the 1890s and the 1930s, the ancestors of current residents were forcibly removed from the Dwesa and Cwebe Forests; in the early 1980s they were fenced out, losing all access to natural resources. Beginning in the early 1990s, the residents of the communities adjoining the Nature Reserve began a struggle for land restitution under South Africa's Land Restitution policy. In 2001, they succeeded in their land claim and were awarded ownership of the Nature Reserve.

I have been calling the numbers provided to no avail, please assist with contact details to Dwesa Nature Reserve. thanks

I'm not certain, since departments and mandates keep changing, but try: Reservations: Tel: 043 7019600 Fax: 043-742 5566 Reservations Contact Number: 043 7019600 Reservations Fax: 086 6111623 E-mail: reservations@ecpta.co.za or natasha.kleinhans@ecpta.co.za Or Eastern Cape Tourism Board Umtata Booking Office Tel: (047) 5315290 Fax: (047)5315291

Who manages the marine protected area in Dwesa-Cwebe Reserve? Is it Marine and Coastal Management? And who is allowed to fish/live off of the ocean there? Only visitors with a recreational fishing license or are locals allowed to fish/use marine resources?

I was taking a tour on the Coast at the time of this 'culling'. We asked some local's about the culling and they certainly didn't seem happy about it!

Hello Sari Did you ever get to Dwesa, if so what was it like? Regards Aiden

Anyone been to Dwesa recently? My wife and i are thinking of taking a drive down. Any recommendations in terms of accommodation, or may we camp in the reserve?

We are camping just after Easter and were told that they have power points at the camp sites. looking forward to the camp cause of the reserve. Holding thumbs about the weather and roads. You can also visit their website. gives all the info.

thanks you very much, good luck

Except very few nature reserves like Dwesa or Cwebe, the flora, fauna and other life forms are becoming endangered and extinct from this planet. There should be an amicable solution to the fight between man and nature. While conserving, local issues should also be address with due diligence and proper planning for better results. It is a nice post.

It's possible for local people to open up their homes to tourists, but will they be safe? If you know of locals or other accommodation in Dwesa, list in on our website. Its free. I was in the Transkei last year in December and its a magical place with extremely high poverty levels. It really needs to change for the better.

referring to your question last week ihave sen sone construction trucks for road works and the road is been mantained though it is still gravel

Hi Everyone, I am a local at Dwesa, well the Roads are not that bad but at some parts they are pretty bad especially when it had rained because it's gravel but if you arrive when it's dry i promise you that you'll drive your low suspension vehicle all the way to the Camps...As for Locals opening their homes for tourists, that's not a bad idea considering that it would mean people are going to get something out of that in return and I can assure anyone who is interested in that, that it would be safe, we are not that developed meaning there is less crime and instead people are welcoming however I cannot say we don't have crime Period this is South Africa after all.

Hi there, I see that there are buffalo in Dwesa. Is it considered safe to walk in Dwesa considering the reputation buffalo have?

It is safe as there are well trained rangers to help

Do the rangers charge? Also, what is the campsite like? Is it shady? How far is it from the beach?

 As a local who's visited all the nature reserves, I've never heard of any wild animal attacks, whatsoever. Man animal hunters, on the other hand, have been a monstrous blemish.

The Dwesa/Cwebe, Mkambathi, Silaka, and Hluleka Nature Reserves have never had any animal attacks to my knowledge (unless you count those pesky {beautiful} crested cranes that used to hang out near the reception at Hluleka; and once gave my friend Matthew a peck on the head! :) 

I was last there about a month ago, and zebra still roam near around the chalets freely. 

I highly recommend Hluleka. Very beautiful and very affordable. (And that's not to detract from Dwesa, just as I say: haven't been there in too long.)

So I can't answer the accomodation or camping query re Dwesa, as the last time I was there was over 20 years ago. But then the quaint and cosy wooden bungalows were in lovely shaded copses. 

But yeah, as someone who's lived here for going on 48 years, running wildcoast.com since 1997 (with full time Google alerts out for any incidences)... I have never heard of any animal attacks, ever. 

The campsite is very close to the beach its a walking distance and they have open spaces as well as shady places for parks its cool and comfortable but be warned there are very naughty monkeys but friendly at the same time. The rangers are employed by tourism and are payed by the department.

Hi Grant, Did not walk into the reserve but the beach is a 5 minute walk from the main ablution block (the only one). And yes there is plenty of shady spots to camp. Beware of the Monkey's. Cheeky little blighters. Leon

Thanks for the comments everyone.

Hi all I'm coming from Rhodes to Dwesa and want to drive this route Rhodes - Elliot - Ngcobo - Idutywa - Dwesa. All other roads seem fine but I'm not too sure about the Ngcobo - Idutywa stretch. On google satellite view the road looks tarred? Or would it be better to scrap that plan and rather go Rhodes - Maclear - Tsolo - Mthatha - Idutywa - Dwesa? Thanks Grant

I have a Slingsby map of the Wild Coast and I see that you can drive from Dwesa to Hole-in-the-Wall via some dirt roads much closer to the coast. Is this route recommended?


 Please look us up on fbook website will be ready soon ,a beut place to come and stay on the mouth of  Nqabara River . Accomadation for Backpakers ,Hikers ,Birders and Fishermen . We have 4 houses and wonderful staff ,mainly self catering .




Tim Hammond 


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