KwaZulu-Natal offers not only an incredibly beautiful and diverse landscape but also a fascinating history waiting to be discovered.
The province was created in 1994 when the Zulu bantustan of KwaZulu (‘Place of the Zulu’ in Zulu) merged with the Natal Province and today is the second most populous province in South Africa. Geographically it is located in the southeast of the country and shares borders with Mozambique, Eswatini and Lesotho.
Despite its small size, it packs in many popular South African attractions such as the World Heritage-listed Drakensberg mountains, a beautiful shoreline beside the Indian Ocean and the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, which is the oldest game park in Africa. With such a wealth of possibilities, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to start; this is why we have compiled the top five sites in KwaZulu-Natal below.
1. Durban. KwaZulu-Natal’s most populous city (and South Africa’s third, after Johannesburg and Cape Town) is the first port of call for many visitors to the area. Its beachfront location and year-round pleasant weather have led to Durban undergoing somewhat of a renaissance in recent years, becoming KwaZulu-Natal’s most cosmopolitan city. It has an abundance of activities and sites on offer, from the the futuristic Moses Mabhida Stadium and Durban Botanical Gardens to the Golden Mile beachfront and Paradise Valley nature reserve.
For those wanting a closer look at the culture on offer, look no further than the Warwick Junction street markets where you will find Zulu shopkeepers offering traditional medicines and Indian food carts selling traditional curry dishes. For the history and culture buffs, the Campbell Collections museum displays African art and artifacts which highlight and explore the city’s ethnic blend.
2. The Drakensberg. Taking its name from an Afrikaans word meaning ‘Dragon Mountains’, this is the South African section of the Great Escarpment, a major topographical African feature which spans five countries. One of the most visited destinations in the country, The Drakensberg is a place of extraordinary beauty: jagged crests pierce the air above impenetrable forests and deep valleys, cascades feed clear and sparkling mountain streams.
The region is also home to the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Royal Natal National Park, which house San (Bushmen) rock paintings. Hot air balloon rides are also on offer for those who wish to see the vast landscapes from above.
3. The Drakensberg Brewery has a rustic and relaxing ambience, offering a create-your-own-platter lunch menu alongside an extensive beer menu and smaller wine selection. Not only can you enjoy an impressive selection of craft beers here, but the experience is accompanied by spectacular views of The Drakensberg. A great way to enjoy a refreshing beverage in incomparable surroundings – a must for beer lovers.
4. Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (formerly Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve) This is the oldest, and one of the few game parks in KwaZulu-Natal where visitors can expect to see all of the Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, rhino). It is also a sanctuary for threatened white rhinos and is said to have the largest white rhino population in the world. It also is home to over 340 species of bird as well as cheetahs, hippos, hyena, zebras, giraffes and blue wildebeests. This game reserve tends to attract fewer crowds than Kruger National Park, so it is a perfect option for those who wish to see more animals than humans on a game drive.
5. KwaZulu-Natal is home to some of the most famous battlefield sites in both British and South African history. Central Zululand (which is now part of KwaZulu-Natal) was the site of many historic battles between the Zulus, Boers and British. The battlefield region contains a total of sixty-three sites from the various historical battles: the 1838 Voortrekker-Zulu conflict; the 1879 Anglo-Zulu War; the first and second Anglo-Boer Wars of 1880/1 and 1899/1902 respectively, as well as many more. These can be found at the heart of Zululand and encompass the sites where the Battles of Blood River, Islandlwana, Rorke’s Drift, amongst others, took place.
6. And last but certainly not least, The Wildlife Spirit, of course! Here we have a number of activities on offer, from elephant dung paper making to game drives and visits to our botanical garden. Click HERE to find out more and to arrange a visit to see us. We look forward to welcoming you!