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KwaZulu Natal travel guide
Legendary land of powerful Zulu tribes, KwaZulu-Natal is a colourful fusion of cultures. At the coastal edge, the Indian Ocean entices visitors into its warm waters. The long coastal region includes a World Heritage Site, the magnificent Isimangaliso Wetland Park. Inland, the genteel country towns of the rolling Midlands are out to charm. At the massive Drakensberg Mountain Range, many visitors are inspired to hike, bike and explore Stone Age paintings in this World Heritage Site.
KwaZulu-Natal can be enjoyed year round, thanks to a subtropical climate. Get your kicks surfing, hang-gliding or golfing. Tour the violent battlefields of history, where Boer, British and Zulu armies clashed. Watch the timeless movements of the Big Five on a game reserve. Meet up with a modern African way of life in the flourishing cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. You can explore a traditional village in Zululand, spot remnants of British customs and taste the influence of India when you munch on an aromatic roti.
Along the coast, these are great choices:
- North Coast: settle yourself in a small pretty town such as Ballito or Salt Rock for holidays that involve sandcastles, surfing, snorkelling, and fishing. This is a good place to try Indian cuisine as there is a lively Indian community here.
- South Coast: Port Edward, Margate and Port Shepstone make great bases along the gentle coastline. The waves are perfect for children and people who like their ocean warm.
- iSimangaliso Wetland Park: Take a boat safari to watch whales and dolphins play in the waves, and encounter endangered turtles laying eggs on the sand.
- Golf courses: Your call to golf is answered by more than 60 world-class golf courses, including the famous Zimbali, Selbourne and Umdoni golf courses, as well as the Links course at Prince's Grant near Stanger.
- Durban: Right on the beach, with a balmy climate and surfers in wetsuits all year round, Durbs is the main city of KZN but still manageable to explore in a couple of days. The seafront is lined with big hotels; the ridge overlooking the city, known as the Berea, has cooler temperatures and suburbs with colonial mansions, palm trees and cool coffee shops. You’ll notice the vibrant Indian culture in the markets and the tasty cuisine, specialising in seafood and curries. Durban is also the home of UShaka, a huge marine theme park with its oceanarium, dolphin, penguin and seal shows, water rides and animal encounters.
Driving inland, here’s what awaits:
- Hluhluwe-Imfolozi and surrounding private game reserves: Join a 4x4 safari to see the Big Five and relax in the peace of the bush.
- Midlands Meander: The villages and towns on this road make up South Africa’s first and largest arts and crafts route, extending around 80 km from Pietermaritzburg to Mooi River. Interact with local carpenters, beaders, weavers, potters, artists, wine makers, all creating unique items with a sense of place.
- Drakensberg Mountains: The Drakensberg Range forms a tremendous basalt barricade between KwaZulu-Natal and the Kingdom of Lesotho. Take a hike through yellowwood forests, leading you to magnificent San rock art, birdwatching and diamond bright waterfalls. Or consider a helicopter ride over Cathedral Peak.
- Battlefields: Envision the fighting at the Battlefields of Isandlwana and Rourke's Drift where historic battles spilled the blood of British and Zulu. The Anglo-Boer war trail takes you from Spioenkop and Ladysmith to Talana at Dundee.