Babanango Game Reserve is partnering with the Blue Sky Society to host its annual birding weekend from November 19-22 this year at the new Zulu Rock Lodge that opens on November 11. Renowned wildlife photographer Matt Yardley will share some of his experiences and offer tips on how to get superlative wildlife shots

Limited to a maximum of 12 guests, the birding weekend will be a feast for the senses as you explore the 22,000ha malaria-free reserve in the heart of KwaZulu-Natal’s Zululand region. Some 50km from the town of Vryheid, Babanango Game Reserve is a pioneering game reserve in the making operated in partnership with local communities.

With its rolling hills, broad savannahs, deep valleys and 23km stretch of the White Umfolozi River, Babanango, home to a diversity of wildlife from leopard, buffalo, rhino and hyena to hippo, giraffe and antelope. is focused on conservation and community development through responsible, sustainable tourism. It’s

When it comes to birding,  283 different bird species have been  recorded on the Babanango reserve, many of which are endemic to the region. Local “specials” include the southern bald ibis, buff-streaked chat, mountain wagtail, African finfoot and a diverse number of raptors including the lanner falcon and African hawk eagle. If you’re really lucky you may get a sighting of the endangered southern ground hornbill!

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush at Babanango Reserve

Besides birding, this amazing weekend will also include some wonderful stargazing (weather permitting) and evenings spent around a crackling log fire listening to wonderful African stories and the story of Babanango Game Reserve as well as the opportunity to indulge in a night sky photo session.

  • The 3-day weekend costs R7,772.00 per person and includes breakfast, lunch and dinner and two daily game drives, as well as all scheduled activities. Drinks  and the conservation fee are not included in the rate. For more information , email Carla from Blue Sky on carla@blueskysociety.co.za  

Babanango Game Reserve was created by the local Emcakwini, KwaNgono and Esibongweni communities to attract tourism and stimulate the local economy. Babanango Valley Lodge enjoys panoramic views of the Nsubeni River that flows into the White Umfolozi. Surrounded by dramatic granite koppies, sandstone cliffs and impressive quartzite ridges, the lodge offers luxurious, 4-star accommodation.

Babanango Valley Lodge in Zululand

With its tastefully decorated and spacious rooms, Babanango Valley Lodge can accommodate up to 18 people in nine rooms.

Each guest room has a private entrance overlooking the reserve below. The generous honeymoon suite, slightly separate from the lodge, offers the perfect retreat for couples.

Guests can expect to see giraffe, kudu, wildebeest, waterbuck, bushbuck, and impala. Leopard occur naturally on the reserve and hippo and buffalo have been reintroduced.  Some 283 endemic and migrant species of bird has been recorded.

Activities include game drives, guided birding trails, walking and mountain biking. Also available are tours of the nearby historic battlefield’s region including Rorke’s Drift and Isandlwana, as well as a visit to the eMakhosini Valley (Valley of the Kings).