A visit to Umlalazi Nature Reserve would not be complete without exploring the extensive tracts of pristine forests protected in the reserve.
Umlalazi’s Siyaya Trail snakes through the forest, up and down over the densely vegetated dunes, for a distance of 3km. Enormous red and smaller white milkwoods (Mimusops obovata and Sideroxylon inerme respectively) predominate in the species-rich climax dune forests. The Siyaya Trail starts at the beach parking area and makes a large circle through the forest to end at the parking area again, but about half-way through a side-trail leads to a footbridge over the Siyayi stream and to the beach.
At the grove of Kosi palms (Raphia australis) a boardwalk has been constructed just above the level of the waterlogged forest floor, allowing easy access to these magnificent trees and the palm-nut vultures that feed and breed in them. Interestingly, the Kosi palms flower and fruit only once in their lifetime, when the tree is around 30 years old. Elsewhere in the swamp forests, a little further inland than the dune forest, ferns and the swamp fig (Ficus trichopoda) are the most noticeable species.
Umlalazi’s forests abound with insects and other invertebrates, numerous insectivorous and frugivorous forest birds, as well as forest dwelling mammals, of which the red duikers and vervet monkeys are the easiest to see.