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 KwaZulu-Natal Travel Information, South Africa

KZN Travel Information

KwaZulu-Natal Province info link KwaZulu-Natal's Midlands and Historic Battlefileds info link
Explore country towns and artists of KwaZulu-Natal's Midlands and historic Zulu, British and Boer Battlefields

Zululand

Kwa means homeland in the Zulu language and KwaZulu-Natal is home to the Zulu people and is steeped in their history. Zululand lies further north of the Dolphin Coast. It extends as far north as Richard’s Bay and inland to the border with Battlefields. This is Zululand where the Zulu experience and rolling hills will take your breath away.

Kwazulu - Zululand

Acknowledgements - above left: Rattray's Historical Lodges

It is quiet, traditional, with miles of sandy beaches with dolphins frolicking in the surf and includes little towns such as Ulundi and Vryheid. Visit some of the provincial game reserves and private concessions for a wildlife experience of game watching, bush walks and world class scuba diving at coastal lodges.

When in Zululand it is highly recommended to visit one of the traditional Zulu villages open to tourists. Explore the traditional beehive huts and enjoy a show of vibrant Zulu dancing. Sample some homemade beer and traditional foods, take an ox drawn wagon ride and visit with the traditional healer (Sangoma). Even as European ways infiltrated the Zulu way of life, many aspects of their culture remain and this is evident in a township tour where shebeens (local pubs) and medicine shops still sell traditional remedies and homemade beer. Allow several days to fully explore the area, including Ulundi where the final battle in the Anglo – Zulu war was fought and further inland towards Vryheid, where relaxing mineral springs, tea plantations and more history await discovery.

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The Elephant Coast

Any nature lover will simply fall in love with the Elephant Coast. It is one of the few places in South Africa where such a varied landscape of forests, lakes, lagoons, papyrus swamps, major rivers and small semi permanent pans are found in a relatively small land area. The region is a 200 km (124 miles) long and 70km (43 miles) wide, home to 21 different ecosystems.

There are a number of game reserves in the region for wildlife viewing, really beautiful stretches of beach for the whole family, exquisite dive sites with reefs to explore, deep sea fishing, cultural activities, mountain trails and many historical sites. Attractions are close enough to enjoy game viewing with elephant and lion in the morning, be on a boat viewing dolphins and whales in the afternoon and enjoy traditional Zulu dancing and fine dining in the evening.

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park

These two parks were founded in 1895 and are forerunners in conserving White Rhino populations. In the 1960’s, white Rhino numbers were as low as 500 but a successful capture and relocation program to safe reserves across the country greatly aided in increasing the White Rhino population in South Africa.

The Black Rhino is at risk as well and conservation efforts at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi is very important to bringing population numbers up again. As much as a fifth of the world’s black and white Rhino can be found in these two parks. Visitors can see the big 5 (elephant, rhino, leopard, lion and buffalo) as well as many bird and antelope species.

Wildlife of Kwazulu's Elephant Coast

Acknowledgements - Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Whale watching

Southern Right and Humpback whales are a common sight along the Elephant Coast in the winter months, often accompanied by pods of bottlenose dolphin. They travel north to their breeding ground off the shores of Mozambique from mid May to mid September and start their long trek back to Antarctica from around September to December. Visitors during this period can typically see the whales from any location along the shores of the Elephant Coast, especially from June through November, However for a closer view, a licensed operator based in St Lucia provides whale tours by boat. Tours to the whales have to be conducted by an operator with a license from the Department of Marine and Coastal Management. They also need to be a member of the South African Boat-Based Whale Watching Association. Boats are not allowed within 300m (980 feet) of the whales unless skippered by a licensed operator. There are only three in the whole province and only one in St Lucia.

A land based whale watching tower can be found at Cape Vidal and Mpenjati.

Turtles

If visiting this region in late spring through mid summer (October to February) then consider taking a Turtle Tour. There are 5 Turtle species that swim the waters off Zululand (and beyond) but only two of them breed here. Often seen are the Leatherback, Loggerhead, Olive Ridley, Green Turtle and Hawkbill. The two breeding species, the Loggerhead and the Leatherback, were almost extinct but thanks to conservation efforts their numbers are rising once more. They ‘secretly’ move out of the surf on moonless nights to lay their eggs in shallow holes on the beach from October through January and the eggs hatch in January and February. The the little turtles break out of their shells, dig out of their sandy nests, then make a dash as fast as their little legs can carry them to the relative safety of the ocean. This is the most dangerous time for them as they are often hunted by Kingfishers and Seagulls. Survival rate is a mere one in five hundred.

Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles

Acknowledgements - Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Tours can be booked ahead and are conducted by KZN Wildlife rangers at Sodwana Bay and Cape Vidal or from the Bhanga Nek Community in Kosi Bay, providing the visitor a chance to witness either the mothers coming up to lay their eggs or the eggs hatching when the hatchlings head towards the sea.

iSimangaliso (St Lucia) Wetland Park

iSimangaliso Wetland Park was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999 and is situated on the Elephant Coast, 275 km (170 miles) North of Durban. The park was afforded this protection because of its amazing biodiversity which includes Nile crocodiles, various land predators and antelope, colorful coral reefs, wetlands, forests, endangered animals such as the Loggerhead and the Leatherback turtles and white and black rhino as well as the flora and fauna. This is the third largest protected area in South Africa. Its name was changed in November 2007 from The Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park to iSimangaliso Wetland Park - iSimangaliso is Zulu for ‘marvel’. The large 3,280 square kilometer (1,266 square miles) conservancy is made up of 15 different reserves, parks, sanctuaries, bays and lakes.

Included in the park is:

Sodwana Bay, Kwazulu's Elephant Coast

Sodwana Bay - Beach and Scuba Diving

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Historic Battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal

Gaze across the serene landscapes of KwaZulu-Natal and it is not surprising to learn that historic and bloody battles have been fought over this spectacular land. This territory has long been home to the powerful Zulu nation, who did not take kindly to intrusions on their land, first by the Voortrekkers (Afrikaans pioneers) and later the British colonial troops.

This Kingdom of the Zulus was the setting for numerous historic battles between the Zulu nation, Voortrekkers and British. Periodic historic battlefield reenactments provide a special attraction to visitors.

A reenactment of a historic battle between British and Zulu, Kwazulu-Natal

Acknowledgements - KwaZulu-Natal Tourism Authority

Across much of the KwaZulu-Natal midlands, monuments commemorate the brave warriors who fought for their land and the soldiers and pioneers who fought for their country and their lives. Expert guides and historians now offer guided tours to the very foothills and grasslands where these mighty battles occurred.

Read more about these historic Battlefields.

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The Drakensberg Mountain Attractions

The Dutch settlers called it the Drakensberg (Dragon Mountains) and the Zulus called it uKhahlamba (the barrier of spears). By any name, this KwaZulu-Natal mountain range and world heritage site is 200 km (125 miles) of pure magic.

The Drakensberg mountain range in Kwazulu-Natal

Acknowledgements - Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Much of this range of mountains lies within KwaZulu Natal Province. The only access route between KwaZulu-Natal and neighboring Lesotho is via Sani Pass, which also holds the title for highest pub in Southern Africa, at 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) above sea level.

The range is made up of Bergville and Northern Drakensberg, Winterton and the Central Drakensberg, Himeville, Underberg and the Southern Drakensberg, East Griqualand and Umzimkhulu. Early inhabitants of the area were the San and Bushmen. Many of the rock faces display rock art depicting images of daily life of these early inhabitants. Some 20,000 individual painted figures have been recorded at some 500 caves and rocky overhangs. Some of the rock paintings are believed to be over 3,000 years old.

Drakensberg Rock Painings

There are a number of adventure and outdoor activities available to visitors and it is definitely a destination that will require a number of days to enjoy. Adrenalin activities include rock climbing, abseiling, white water rafting and helicopter flights. Hiking and horseback trails traversing mountain streams, valleys and colorful fynbos provide family recreation in the clean mountain air and African sun.

Many resorts, spas and retreats are found along the range with various attractions and activities available at each.

Read more about the Drakensberg.

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The Midlands of KwaZulu Natal

Rivers, lakes and waterfalls, hills, forests and green farmland pastures adorn a picturesque landscape between the inland city of Pietermaritzburg and the foothills of the Drakensberg. Quaint villages and small towns are home to cheese and wine makers, artists and a cottage industry of diverse crafts. Spend time outdoors hiking and exploring, but leave time to browse the art studios and to discover the trout farms, potters and weavers that have made the Midlands their home.

The Midlands is also home to annual events that draw athletes from far and wide to KwaZulu Natal:
The arduous 3-day Dusi canoe marathon; the Midmar Mile swimming challenge; and the Comrades Marathon - or rather Ultramarathon - covering a distance of 90 km (55.9 miles) between Pietermaritzburg and Durban and attracting more than 13,000 local and international runners.

Statue of Ghandi, Pietermaritzburg

 

The City Of Pietermaritzburg has many historic buildings and monuments including a statue of the young Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who was a young lawyer in 1893 when he was famously evicted from a whites only train carriage on a Pietermaritzburg station.

                  Acknowledgements - Pietermaritzburg Tourism

Read more about the Midlands

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