KwaZulu-Natal

KwaZulu-Natal , ("The home of the Zulu-Natal") a province within South Africa, is home to a great diversity of nationalities, vegetation, landscapes, weather, and activities merging together to form a unique experience worthy of visiting.

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The three main tourism areas are:Mkhamba Safaris home base is in the Midlands/Drakensberg Region, in the town of Estcourt.

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The KwaZulu-Natal Midlands

The KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, as the word suggests, is between the warm coast and the ragged Drakensberg mountains where snow falls in winter. The southern region is fertile, green and good farm country, the north tends to be thorny with grassy plains.

History

The northern region of the Midlands is steeped in history dating back to the struggle of the Boers (South African People), the British and the Zulu people. The wide-open spaces and undulating “blue topped” hills create an impression of vastness.

Self Drive Routes

Many popular self-driven/ guided routes into this wonderland are a unique way of experiencing the country. Rivers, gorges and falls form an integral part of this area where trout/fly fishing is a popular sport along with water sports from canoeing to extreme white water rafting.

Midlands Meander

The Midlands Meander is a well-organized and publicized route in the Midlands, where arts and crafts abound with crafters and artists opening up their homes to the general public to share their talents and sell their goods. The fascinating creativity of the Meander is not only a scenic experience but also a cultural one.

Activities

Activities available in the Midlands include:
  • Anglo-Boer War
  • Arts And Crafts
  • Bass Fishing
  • Bird Watching
  • Canoeing
  • Culture
  • Fishing
  • Hikes
  • History
  • Horse Riding
  • Self-Guided Drives
  • Shopping
  • Swimming
  • Trout Fishing
  • Tubing
  • Walks
  • Water-Skiing
  • White Water Canoeing

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The Drakensberg Mountains

The Zulu people call it “uKahlamba” – the Barrier Of Spears. The Afrikaans people call it the Drakensberg – Dragon Mountains. Whatever it’s name it remains one of the most spectacular tourist attractions in all of Africa.

World Heritage Site

On the 29th November 2000, the Drakensberg joined an exclusive portfolio of “World Heritage Sites.” The 243 000 hectare park was proclaimed a world heritage site because of its;
  • Biological Diversity
  • Endemic And Endangered Species
  • Superlative Beauty
  • Masterpieces Of Human Creative Genius (Found In The Bushmen Rock Paintings)

Second Highest Waterfall In The World

It is the perfect place for rest, relaxation, long walks, beautiful scenery, magnificent vistas, angling, bike riding, bird watching and rock climbing. There are spectacular waterfalls and cascades, the most awe inspiring being the Tugela Falls at the Amphitheatre. This is the second highest waterfall in the world. The 948 metre fall takes place in five cascades. Summer days are hot and sunny with cool nights. Winter brings crisp, clear days with long evenings that are cold and bracing from the wind blowing in from the snow clad peaks.

Romance

The settings are perfect for romantic getaways and weddings to remember. With charming chapels in breathtaking settings, steeped in history and traditions.

Hikes/Walks

Stroll through secluded, shaded valleys or walk over rolling foothills. Hike the upper reaches or mountain-climb the peaks. Whatever your preference you’ll breathe clean, crisp mountain air, whilst reveling in the sights of nature.

Birdwatching

The Drakensberg is a birdwatchers paradise, and is home to some 299 species of birds. This is a quarter of all the species in southern Africa. Amongst these are many birds of prey. Africa’s largest bird of prey with a wingspan of almost 3 metres is the Bearded Vulture, whose home is in the Drakensberg. There are various hides around the Drakensberg, which are around vulture Restaurants or feeding sites, where these magnificent birds can be watched. The most popular of all the sites is the one found at Giants Castle.

Animals, Flora and Fauna

The Drakensberg Mountains of KwaZulu-Natal are also the home of a quarter of the indigenous mammal species of Southern Africa. These animals can be viewed from the back of a horse, or during a gentle stroll or from a vantage point on a hiking trail. Whilst out walking one can appreciate the diversity of flora and fauna found there, and may be privileged enough to see some Proteas and rare Cycad plants.

The Bushman People

The San (Bushman People) are regarded as “embodying the essence of southern Africa’s deep past”. These people inhabited these mountains for thousands of years, before the Zulu wars resulting from land disputes, had driven these people high into the mountains. By the time the Voortrekkers arrived most tribes had dispersed northwards and the San resided in the mountains. The Drakensberg is now famous for the wealth of rock paintings that are a legacy of the San people. There are 600 sites representing over 35 000 individual images. Visiting a Stone Age gallery is a memorable experience. The Giants Castle area has the best and most accessible caves, museum, guided tours and display of artifacts. At the Injasuti Battle Cave in the Injasuti Valley, there are 750 paintings illustrating a battle between warring clans.

Drakensberg Boys Choir

The Drakensberg is also the home of the world acclaimed Drakensberg Boys Choir, who have toured and sung around the world. They received an award in 1981 at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, for the pleasure they have brought American audiences. They also sung to a papal audience in the presence of 25 000 people at the request of the Vatican. When they are not on holiday or touring, a public performance is held every Wednesday afternoon.

Activities

Activities found in the Region include:
  • Hiking
  • Walks
  • Mountain Climbing
  • Wildlife
  • Bird-Watching
  • Vulture Restaurants
  • Trout And Bass Fishing
  • Scenic Self-Drives
  • Horse Riding
  • Flora And Fauna
  • Music In The Mountains With The Drakensberg Boys Choir
  • Bushman Paintings And Rock Art
  • Arts And Crafts

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The Coastal Region

This area of KwaZulu-Natal is sub tropical with lush green vegetation, which is quite dense in unpopulated areas. There are forests and white sandy beaches with lagoons at the mouths of the rivers that have their inception from the Drakensberg. The water is warm and the waves conducive to excellent swimming conditions. Sharks nets have been erected at all major swimming spots. The climate is warm to hot and soaking up the sun in such tranquil surroundings is a must for holidaymakers/tourists/visitors.

North Coast or Dolphin Coast

The Coast in the northern region is close to game reserves where big game thrive on the grass, shrubs and trees. Elephant, rhino, lion and cheetah, wild dogs, antelope, zebra, buck and smaller predators are prolific in size and variety. These animals attract game viewers as well as hunters in the hunting season to cull the fat and numerous animals.

Crops

This is sugar cane country. The soil is rich and ideal for the cultivation of tropical fruits and other crops. Palms and exotic flowering plants provide a myriad of vivid colour to the area. The Tugela River flowing through a valley with towering cliffs is the major river in KwaZulu-Natal and Zululand and heralds the end of the North Coast. An interesting place to visit is the “ The Natal Anti-shark Measures Board” with headquarters at Umhlanga. Umhlanga is the most sophisticated town in this region where most of the hotels and apartments can be found.

Activities

Activities found on the North/Dolphin Coast are:
  • Deep Sea Fishing
  • Dolphin Watching
  • Fishing
  • Paddle Skiing
  • Scuba Diving
  • Sea Kayaking
  • Shopping
  • Ski Boating
  • Snorkeling
  • Surf Fishing
  • Surf Skiing
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Walking
  • Whale Watching
  • Windsurfing

Durban

The city of Durban is one of the largest areas in KwaZulu-Natal and is a pleasure seeker’s paradise. The beachfront has a row of good hotels; a number of interesting shops and pavement hawkers who sell locally produced curios, an amusement park, an aquarium, a snake park, children’s pools, tea gardens and restaurants.

Fishing

The fishing pier is a very popular spot for those who like to try their luck at this relaxing sport. Grunter, Shad, Mackerel, Barracuda and Sharks are caught in the Harbour and from the piers.

Surfing

Surfing events take place on a regular basis. These competitions attract large crowds to the beachfront where the atmosphere is festive and goods are for sale at the Flea Market Stalls.

Boating

Boating is another popular pastime and the Royal Natal Yacht Club can be found at the harbour.

Entertainment and Sports

Live entertainment is available for the theatre lovers and grandiose sports events take place regularly in the field of athletics, rugby, cricket, soccer, swimming, golf, cycling, ice-skating, and horseracing.

Architecture and History

The city hall is a replica of the Belfast City Hall in Northern Ireland. It contains the main hall, a library, art gallery and a museum well known for its realistic display of South African birds. Next to this is the History Museum where the costume display amongst other displays; depicts the clothes worn by all the cultures over the years.

Activities

Activities available in Durban include:
  • Aquarium
  • Boating
  • Culture
  • Deep Sea Fishing
  • Fishing
  • Paddle Skiing
  • Shopping
  • Surfing
  • Yachting

Zululand

Zululand is partly coastal, and has very sandy areas, stretching from The Tugela River to the Swaziland and Mozambique borders, as well as bushy inland stretches with endless hills.

Salt Water Lakes

Three large lakes, namely St Lucia, Kosi Bay and Lake Sibaya are found in Zululand. These lakes are very well protected and the lakes abound with bird life, crocodiles and hippos. Two excellent game reserves are found in Zululand namely, Umfolozi and Hluhluwe. Both these reserves have the big five and are smaller than Kruger National Park so one is more likely to see animals there. Sodwana is considered a fisherman’s paradise. It is an area rich in History and a tour of the battlefields is a most enlightening experience.u>

This is a malaria area, so prophylaxis for CHLOROQUINE RESISTANT malaria is advised.

Weather

Summers are hot and humid. Winter is warm and dry.

Shakaland

Shakaland situated in Zululand, is a museum with a difference, as tourists can experience a proper Zulu way of life by being accommodated in the traditional beehive huts, fed Zulu food, experience Zulu dancing, and see displays of the arts of spirit mediums or witchdoctors (called Sangomas by the Zulu people), as well as basket weaving and hut building.

Places of Interest To visit

  • Umfolozi, Hluhluwe and Mkuzi Game Reserves.
  • Entumeni Nature Reserve, Umlalazi Nature Reserve, Enseleni Nature Reserve, Windy Ridge Game Park, Kosi Bay Nature Reserve.
  • Shaka’s Monument.
  • The Capital of KwaZulu-Natal, and place where the Zulu King lives - Ulundi
  • The Port of Richards Bay, Sodwana Bay.
  • Battle sites: Isandlwana, Rorke’s Drift.
  • St Lucia lakes, Lake Sibaya.
  • Fanies Island.
  • Cape Vidal Resort.
  • Dukuduku Forest Reserve

Activities

Activities found in Zululand are:
  • Battlefields
  • Big 5 Game Reserves
  • Bird Watching
  • Canoeing
  • Culture
  • Game Drives
  • Game Viewing
  • History
  • Shopping
  • Swimming
  • Walks
  • Zulu Culture

South Coast or Hibiscus Coast

The South Coast or Hibiscus Coast of KwaZulu-Natal is a combination of pleasant sleepy hollows where one can get away from the crowds. There are about thirty little resorts/hamlets where one can find accommodation and enjoy peace and quiet. There are also towns with a hive of activity for those who like to live well, play hard, and stay busy. The trees are mostly evergreen and plant species abound especially, Ferns, Orchids, Lilies, Palms, Wild Banana, Bougainvillea, Frangipani and many other exotic flowering plants. Monkeys are often seen going into densely vegetated hillsides. Bird species abound especially the Crowned Eagle, the African Goshawk and owls. Bird lovers can spend hours identifying the many species. A freeway runs along the coastline, linking each resort that makes access quick and easy. The highway from Kingsway is a more scenic route with views of the sea all the way down to the Mtamvuna River that links Natal to the Transkei. Oribi Gorge Nature reserve is a spectacular visit, appealing especially to those who live off the adrenaline given with extreme sports.

The Sardine Run

A well-known angling occurrence is the spectacle of the Sardine run in July and August. The Sardines normally live in the cool waters of the Cape then head towards Moçambique to find warmer waters in which to spawn. The migrating shoals attract predators that in turn “attract” anglers in the hopes of catching the “Big One”. What makes this an interesting occurrence is the fact that the currents bring these shoals very close to shore. Sometimes spectators are able to wade into the sea and catch sardines in their clothing, buckets and other handy vessels.

Activities

Activities found on the South Coast include:
  • Abseiling
  • Bird Watching
  • Canoeing
  • Deep Sea Fishing
  • Fishing
  • Gorge Swinging
  • Paddle Skiing
  • Scuba Diving
  • Sea Kayaking
  • Shopping
  • Ski boating
  • Snorkeling
  • Surf Skiing
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Walks
  • White Water Canoeing
  • Windsurfing
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