Cwebe Nature Reserve
Dwesa and Cweba are two relatively small reserves, separated by the Mbashe River, situated in the central Wild Coast.
Accommodation in Cwebe is only available at the Haven Hotel.
The reserves 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. This lack of development means that the birdlife is prolific, with over 290 species recorded here.
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.
Cwebe is a newly established nature reserve, containing 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.
Note: The reserves are also Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) so fishing is only allowed in demarcated areas.
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