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KwaZulu-Natal Travel Information South Africa

Honeymoon & safari destinations Drakensburg mountian range, KwaZulu Natal
This Barrier of Spears (Zulu) has towering mountain scenery, hiking, climbing, horseback riding, adventure and tranquility.


KZN Travel Information

KwaZulu-Natal | Beaches, Mountains, Wildlife and Zulu Culture

Adventure seeker’s paradise  KwaZulu Natal offers beaches and surf, inland adventures, hiking and mountain climbing, Big 5 safaris, hang gliding, cycling and more.

Blue Flag Beaches  The province has 6 internationally recognized Blue Flag Beaches, a status earned if it excels in safety, cleanliness, amenities and maintenance of environmental standards.

Historic Battlefields  As with any new frontier, many battles were fought to secure land or protect land and people. There are a number of historical sites and tours that depict these great battles of the nations, from British against Zulu to Dutch against British to Zulus against Dutch, all in an attempt to establish or protect a home in the region.

Zulu Culture and Traditions   Inland, the countryside is rugged, rural and home of the Zulu Kingdom. Visitors don’t have to drive far to watch traditional Zulu dancing and learn about culture, traditions and herbal remedies from a natural healer or Sangoma.

Calendar of events
Tours to this country
KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and Battlefields Country Routes KZN Country Routes - Midlands and Battlefields
Explore country towns and artists of KwaZulu-Natal's Midlands and historic Zulu, British and Boer Battlefields
Honeymoon & safari destinations Eastern Cape Province, South Africa link
Addo Elephant National Park, malaria-free game reserves, adventure activities and Xhosa cultural experiences.
Honeymoon & safari destinations The Garden Route
Mountains, forests, lagoons and
shores provide a region of unrivalled scenic beauty, relaxation and adventure.

Africa map showing context of Kwazulu-Natal

 

 

 

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Scuba Diving
Spa Resorts
Nature Trails
Hiking and Trails

Other Special Interest Activities

Highlights of KwaZulu-Natal

International Culinary Tastes  KwaZulu-Natal's rich blend of cultures and traditions have had a marked influence on the food of the Province. Eclectic delights include Indian curries and spices from the local eastern spice markets, British traditional meat pies, Zulu sheba (tomato and onion sauce) served over pap (polenta) and South Africa's own herb flavored wors (sausage).

Geographically diverse  "KZN" is very much a tourist destination that has something for everyone. It is made up of 8 very different regions and is flanked by the Indian Ocean with warm swimmable waters all along its coast, beautiful long stretches of sandy beaches and rocky pools with colorful sea treasures to discover.

Subtropical climate   The region enjoys warm wet summers and drier mild winters. Daytime temperatures range from 28 degrees (83 degrees Fahrenheit) in summer to 23 degrees Celsius (73 degrees Fahrenheit) in winter making it a year round vacation destination.

Zulu Culture and Traditions   Inland, the countryside is rugged, rural and home of the Zulu Kingdom. Visitors don’t have to drive far to watch traditional Zulu dancing and learn about culture, traditions and herbal remedies from a natural healer or Sangoma.

The Drakensberg   Take to the mountains to visit any of the wonderful mountain resorts of the Drakensberg. Spas, horse riding, angling, swimming in mountain streams and local artist studios are only a handful of the attractions and activities available here.

Durban is the largest city in the province and third largest city in South Africa. Durban is multicultural, unique and a popular tourist destination. It is the primary gateway by sea and air to the national parks, beaches, Zululand and the Drakensberg mountain region.  

Surfing   KwaZulu-Natal's 120 miles (200 Km) of beaches, warm waters and consistent breaks attract surfers from around the world. Regular swells, favorable wind direction and a variety of reef, point and beach breaks contribute to great surfing. Durban ("Surf City") offers several popular locations, including New Pier, ranked “Best beach break in the world” by World Stormrider's Guide.

Diving   KwaZulu-Natal's Aliwal Shoal and Sodwana Bay are popular locations for scuba diving. Sodwana Bay is widely recognized as South Africa's scuba diving capital, with dive sites located along a vast marine reserve with coral reefs.

Activities and Attractions:


KwaZulu-Natal Province

Read more about the Kwazulu-Natal:
Durban | Umhlanga Rocks and the North Coast | The South Coast | Zululand | Elephant Coast | Battlefields
Drakensberg | The Midlands

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Durban and uShaka Marine World

Durban was first discovered by Europeans when the Portuguese seafarer Vasco da Gama sailed along the south eastern shores of Africa looking for a route from Europe to India. The date was 1497 during the Christmas week, so he named the coastal area Natal meaning Christmas in Portuguese. However, evidence in Drakensberg mountain shelters reveal that the region was occupied by the San people 8,000 years ago. Modern radio-carbon dating methods show that the rock art found in caves may be older than 3,000 years. European settlements however were only established in 1824 when a small group of men under British Lt F.G Farewell arrived. One of the men in the group was Henry Francis Fynn who was granted a piece of land by the Zulu Monarch King Shaka as a thank you gift for helping to heal the King from a rather nasty stab wound. A town was later built by Fynn and a handful of settlers and they named it d’Urban after Sir Benjamin d’Urban, the governor of the Cape colony at the time.

Today, Durban is a vibrant modern city and has Africa's largest container port.

Durban skyline at night

The Eastern influences in Durban add culinary delights and vibrant colors and traditions to the city. Indian residences date back to colonial rule when the British governor encouraged Sugar Cane farming. Enticing the Zulu people to work on the farms was not easy and so young fixed contract laborers from India were imported to work in the fields. After release of their very lengthy contracts, often as long as 25 years, many decided to stay in Africa and a large Indian community was born. Durban has one of the largest Indian communities outside of India.

The Indians of Durban

Durban has a vibrant nightlife, excellent theatre productions at the Playhouse theatre in the center of the city, with many fine hotels and guest houses. The warm and inviting weather almost all year round invites periodic open air performances, including ‘Music at the Lake’ in the Botanical Gardens. The KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra entertains picnic goers as they lounge on the lawn with glass of wine in hand. These shows do require ticket purchases and are very popular; consider purchasing tickets in advance.  

Ushaka Marine World AquariumIt is a city that entertains everyone. Enjoy the exotic aromas of the Indian Spice Market, a visit to one of the largest Aquariums in the world, uShaka Marine World, or to Umgeni Bird Park. Shopping at Gateway and the many other malls, markets and side walk vendors is a day out in itself. For folks looking for a more traditionally themed visit, a township tour is also available.

Without a doubt, the most animated and colorful attractions in Durban are the flamboyant Zulu Rickshaw pullers with their colorful beaded vests, aprons and accessories, larger than life headdresses adorned with painted ox horns and with personalities to match. Up to two passengers can fit in the Rickshaw as its driver pulls, leaps and cavorts, providing the visitor with a ride along the Durban beachfront streets that will long be remembered. 

The main gateway to KwaZulu-Natal is the newly constructed King Shaka International Airport which was opened on May 1st 2010 for the Soccer World Cup, hosted in South Africa in June and July 2010. It is a very modern and well appointed airport with restaurants, forex exchange, a variety of shops, a post office, medical facilities and a pharmacy, prayer rooms, facilities for the physically challenged and more. You can hire a car or book accommodation from the airport and regular information kiosks are available to answer your questions. The airport is 35km (22 miles) from the city of Durban.

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Umhlanga Rocks, Umdloti and the North Coast

Umhlanga Rocks lies just north of Durban and is another very popular beach resort. The first beach cottage was built in 1869 and the reflective roof acted as a beacon for ships and guided them safely around the rocky outcrops. In the 1930’s the cottage was converted and is now the Oyster Box Hotel. A lighthouse was built in 1953 to guide ship’s captains around the rocks. Umhlanga means ‘place of reeds’ in Zulu which is an apt description of the coastline. The beaches of Umhlanga and Umdloti stretch on for miles and are heaven sent for sun worshippers. Umhlanga Rocks is also home to the Natal Sharks Board, open to visitors.

Umhlanga and Uvongo beach resorts

Above left: Umhlanga Rocks Lighthouse and rocky shoreline with sandy bathing beaches to the North
Above right: Uvongo beach and lagoon, North Coast

North Coast

The region stretches from Zimbali up the coast to the Thukela River. The warm Indian Ocean is wonderful to swim in and the Bottlenose Dolphins of the North Coast (also known as the Dolphin Coast) will testify to that. Dolphins can be seen all year round, sometimes very close to shore. Boating excursions take the visitor closer to these beautiful creatures and sometimes Humpback whales can be spotted as they migrate north to their breeding waters off the Mozambique coast.

The North Coast offers golf, horseback riding, beach walks, restaurants, angling and rock climbing. Micro lighting is a popular aerial pastime and is a wonderful way to see dolphins surfing the waves and whales at play, breaching and tail slapping.

North Coast of Kwazulu-Natal - whales and beaches

Acknowledgements - Blythedale Resort, KZN North Coast

Once again we see how South Africa embraces its diverse culture. As you drive north up the coast look out for Indian temples and stop off at the spice markets. A large Indian community is resident here. Take a muti (Zulu word for medicine) walk through Harold Johnson Nature Reserve. There are also historic battle sites to explore. The quiet resort towns of Ballito, Zimbali and Blythedale Beach offer stop overs or overnights to spend time on sandy beaches and to watch whales and dolphins playing in the surf. The Blythedale Conservancy includes the Umvoti River Mouth where many bird species can be seen. The area is also popular for swimming, surfing and fishing. Blythedale beach is protected by shark nets.

Kwadukuza – Stanger lies inland from Blythedale and is the home of King Shaka’s memorial monument. The monument is found over a grain pit where King’s Shaka’s body was cast after he was assassinated.

Salt Rock (further north along the coast) got its name as the place where King Shaka’s hand maidens used to go to harvest salt off the dried rocks at low tide. Today it is a beautiful resort town. Shaka’s Rock is not far away and is a lovely little town with a swimmable beach and a ski boat launch site for deep sea fishermen.

Sheffield Beach is also popular with snorkellers and scuba divers. Children love the sheltered coves and rock pools. Close by is Zinkwazi Beach with the longest lagoon in KwaZulu-Natal which is wonderful for picnics.

Tugela River Raft Race

 

 

 

 

 

Thukela Mouth hosts major fishing tournaments and the annual Thukela (Tugela) Raft Race.

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The South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal

Blue Flag Beaches  KZN has 6 internationally recognized Blue Flag Beaches, all on the South Coast (2010/11). This status is earned if it excels in safety, cleanliness, provision of amenities and maintenance of environmental standards. These beaches are: Lucien Beach, Margate Beach, Marina/San Lameer Beach, Ramsgate Beach, Trafalgar Beach and Umzumbe (Pumula) Beach.

The South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal is a popular holiday destination for South Africans, with long stretches of beach dotted with villages, golf courses and hibiscus flowers. Nine of the country’s top 12 golf courses are found on the KZN south coast. With everything from international standard resorts to well managed guest houses, there are accommodation options to suit every budget.

Scuba divers and surfers will soon discover that this is a haven for these water sports. Incredible dive sites, such as Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks with year round warm waters and swimmable / surfable beaches make it all the more inviting for water lovers. Aliwal Shoal is located off the Umkomaas shore - a fossilized undersea sand dune of sponges, soft and hard coral.

Every winter (June through August) the calm waters of the Indian Ocean virtually explode with sardines as millions of these little fish migrate up the coast, with hungry dolphins and other fish in pursuit, gorging themselves on a buffet of sardines. Many fisherman and locals can be seen on the beaches during the ‘sardine run’ with buckets and nets, scooping up bucket after bucket of sardines. Think of all that sardine bait for fishing in the months to come! Fishing off the beaches is a popular pastime - Ifafa Beach, Elysium, Mtwalume, Kelso and Banana Beach being just a few of many popular spots.

There is plenty of family entertainment in the region. Visit Croc World (Scottburgh), a crocodile breeding farm, go canoeing on the lagoon and up the estuaries of Ifafa Beach, body board in the surf or explore tidal pools along the shore. A great choice of beach for smaller children and seniors is Umtentweni near Port Shepstone, with paddling pools and senior swimming areas that are protected from the currents of larger waves. Bathers are watched over by lifesavers and shark nets are in place behind the breakers. Uvongo is another family vacation destination with a beautiful beach, professional lifesavers, a lovely waterfall flowing into the lagoon and the Uvongo Bird Park, with walkways through the aviaries.

Probably the most popular of all villages is Margate, with a swimmable beach also patrolled by professional life savers and shark nets behind the breakers, a children’s pool, pleasure boats for hire and a lovely footpath that extends all the way along the coastline for about 1km (0.6 miles).

Margate Main Beach, Kwazulu-Natal

Margate Main Beach

Shelly Beach is famous for having the largest ski boat base on the stretch of coast extending from East London (Eastern Cape) to Durban. It is home to the National Sea Rescue Institute and is host to many angling competitions annually.

The seaside village resort of Umzumbe is located at the mouth of the Mzumbe River, which legend tells earned its name (meaning "bad kraal" or village) from the Hlongwa cannibals, a tribe that was virtually eradicated by the Zulus in 1828.

One of the larger villages along the coast is Port Shepstone which has a great beach, of course, but is also a good base for exploring inland to Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve. There are a number of extreme sports available in the Gorge, most run by Wild 5 based at the Oribi Gorge Hotel.

For the brave of heart, Oribi Gorge serves up a treat reputed to be the highest gorge swing in the world. Once harnessed in, checked and triple checked by your expert guide, you jump into the gorge and fall 165 m (541 feet) towards the rocky base before swinging out across the gorge. Eyes shut, eyes open, it doesn’t matter, because your heart will be racing and you will be itching to tell of your bravery to all who will listen. This is truly an exhilarating adventure activity.

White Water Rafting is available on the Umzimkulwana River, which runs through the reserve and adds to the beautiful landscape. A word of caution - water born bilharzia (a tropical parasite disease) is a risk here.

Other activities available: Horseback riding, abseiling, a zip line and mountain biking.

To calm the senses after all the excitement, hike the gorge and look out for the wildlife in the reserve, including antelope (oribi, reedbuck, blue and grey duikers, and bushbuck) and the much harder to spot leopard. The Gorge is a perfect day excursion with a picnic basket from Margate or Port Shepstone - or stay over at one of the available camps and hotels in the area.

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10 More Things To Do
in Kwazulu-Natal

 1 Take a Turtle Tour to the Elephant Coast when endangered Turtles lay their eggs on the beach
 2 Go shopping at the Gateway Theatre of Shopping, Umhlanga - the largest mall in the Southern Hemisphere. 350 stores, Theme Park, IMAX, cinemas.
 3 Visit one of the world’s largest aquariums at Durban's uShaka Marine World
 4 See Zulu Dancing in the Valley of  a Thousand Hills
 5 Take a Rickshaw ride in Durban
 6 Visit the KZN Midlands and Battlefields country routes for Arts, Adventure and to learn about the many battles fought in the region
 7 Take a wildlife tour of one of the oldest reserves in the country Hluhluwe-iMfolosi Game Reserve

 8 Climb the many mountain trails in the Drakensberg mountains.
 9 Visit the Indian Spice Market of Durban or experience Zulu Culture at Isibindi Zulu Lodge, Rorke's Drift.
10 Confront your fears and jump the highest gorge swing in the world at Oribi Gorge


KwaZulu-Natal
Tours and Transfers

 
 
 
 


KwaZulu-Natal Hotel
Accommodation

Durban Hotels: South African Hotels.com

Drakensberg Hotels: South African Hotels.com
North Coast Hotels: South African Hotels.com
South Coast Hotels: South African Hotels.com
Zululand Hotels: South African Hotels.com


KZN Accommodation
Guest Houses, B&Bs
and Self Catering

KwaZulu-Natal - All: Kwababa (KwaZulu-Natal's accommodation authority) - has a search filter by region.

KwaZulu-Natal - All: NAA-SA (National Accommodation Association of South Africa) - has a search filter by region.
 
 
 


Accommodation
Wildlife Parks and Reserves

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife: World-class Resorts, Accommodation and Conference venues in KwaZulu-Natal.
[ Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife is entrusted with the long-term conservation of the regions of rich biodiversity.]


 
 
 
 

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