KwaZulu Natal is a world in one province, to the North of Durban you will find the best of African game reserves and...
KwaZulu-Natal, often referred to as "KZN", is a province of South Africa. Prior to 1994 the territory now known as KwaZulu-Natal was made up of the province of Natal and all pieces of territory that made up the homeland of KwaZulu.
In the 1830s the northern part was the kingdom of Zululand and southern part was briefly a Boer republic called Natalia. In the 1840s the latter became the British Colony of Natal, though Zululand remained independent until 1879. It is called the garden province and is the home of the Zulu nation. Located in the southeast of the country, it borders three other provinces and the countries of Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho, along with a long shoreline on the Indian Ocean.
KwaZulu Natal is a world in one province: to the North of Durban you will find the best of African game reserves and pristine beaches, to the West lie the majestic Drakensberg mountains and temperate Midlands while to the South there await superb golf courses, fishing spots and miles of subtropical coastline.
Known as the Kingdom of the Zulu, KwaZulu Natal is a melting pot of African, European and Indian cultures. This province boasts two World Heritage Sites, the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park and the majestic Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg Park. KwaZulu Natal offers superb beaches, sunny weather, game reserves, rolling green hills, numerous sugar cane plantations and relics of the great battles in South African history.
In the early 19th century the area now known as KwaZulu Natal was inhabited primarily by Bantu-speaking Zulu people which formed part of the Nguni tribe. Shaka was the most famous of their chiefs, known for his innovations in tactics and weaponry. In the 1820s and 30s the British acquired much of the KwaZulu Natal area from the Zulu chiefs Shaka and Dingane. Afrikaner farmers arrived in 1837 and, after battles with the Zulu, established a republic. In 1843, Britain annexed KwaZulu Natal area, then known as Natal, to the Cape Colony, and a Boer exodus followed. During the second half on the 19th century, many British people immigrated to Natal.
In 1856, Natal became a separate colony. Sugarcane cultivation began in the 1860's, and many Indians came to work in the sugar industry. Many Indians remained in Natal after their indenture expired; by 1900 they outnumbered whites. Today KwaZulu Natal still continues to have the largest Indian population in South Africa. In 1893, Natal was given internal self-government. Natal was invaded by the Boers in 1899 at the outbreak of the Boer War, but the Boers were driven out by the British in 1900. Ten years later Natal became one of the original provinces of the Union of South Africa. Following the run to independence, Hendrik Verwoerd succeeded in establishing the Union of South Africa into the Republic of South Africa in 1961.
During apartheid the Bantustan of KwaZulu was created in Natal and designated as a supposed homeland for the Zulu. KwaZulu consisted of many small fragments of land scattered throughout the province. In the 1980s and early 1990s, KwaZulu Natal was wracked by conflict between the African National Congress and the Zulu-nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party. In 1994, following the release of Nelson Mandela, South Africa held its first free democratic elections and then in that same year Natal and the Bantustan of KwaZulu were recombined to form the new province of KwaZulu Natal.
March to August
Natal Midlands, Drakensberg, Pietermaritzburg, Battlefields, Elephant Coast, Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park, Royal Natal National Park, Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park, Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve, Willard Beach, Dolphin Coast, Margate Main Beach, Marina Beach, Hibberdene Beach, Lucien Beach, Uvongo Beach, Midlands Meander, Sodwana Bay National Park, KwaZulu Natal Hiking Trails, South Coast, KwaZulu Natal 4x4 Trails
Natal Midlands: Inland of Durban, lying in an area that acts as something of a respite for all who go there, between Pietermaritzburg and the Drakensberg Mountains, is a beautiful region filled with stretches of farmland, charming little towns, a wonderful arts and crafts route and picturesque scenery bordering on the sublime, known as the Natal Midlands.
The Natal Midlands is rich with water - rivers, lakes, dams and waterfalls are abundant - and the landscape is endowed with green pastures, hills and forests, whilst the northern reaches of the Midlands are dominated by the foothills and mountains of the Drakensberg.
Drakensberg: An awe-inspiring and truly magnificent range of mountains, the majority of which lie in KwaZulu Natal and stretch well over 200 kilometres forming a natural border between Lesotho and KwaZulu Natal, are known simply as Ďthe dragon mountainí or Drakensberg.
The description is apt considering that the average height of this series of mountains is 2 900 metres, with some of the highest mountain peaks in Southern Africa rising as high as 3 482 metres.
Pietermaritzburg: Set in the heart of the Natal Midlands in KwaZulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg is a city of charm and dignity, at its loveliest in spring when masses of azaleas burst into bloom. When the first Voortrekkers arrived in 1837, they found a tranquil countryside graced by forests, hills and valleys. They settled on a fertile tract of land beside the Umsindusi River and named it after two of their leaders, Gerrit Maritz and Piet Retief.
Battlefields: Not only the place of some of the most picturesque landscapes in the country, the sweeping hills and knotty rock formations that pepper the rolling plains and valleys of northern and central KwaZulu Natal are also the site of a concentration of historical battles that took place over numerous years and shaped the history of both South African and British history.
Elephant Coast: KwaZulu Natalís Elephant Coast stretches from the world heritage site of Lake St Lucia in the south to Kosi Bay, virtually on the Mozambique border. It is an extraordinary, untamed area fast growing in popularity for its incredible variety of habitats and eco-systems that combine into an unforgettable blend of adventure, unspoilt scenery and unique experiences.
Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park: The Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park has exceptional natural beauty in its soaring basaltic buttresses, incisive dramatic cutbacks, and golden sandstone ramparts. Rolling high altitude grasslands, the pristine steep sided river valleys and rocky gorges also contribute to the beauty of this world heritage site. The Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park site's diversity of habitats protects a high level of endemic and globally threatened species, especially birds and plants.
Royal Natal National Park: The Royal Natal National Park was proclaimed in 1916, and contains some of the most spectacular scenery in South Africa. The main feature of Royal Natal is the Amphitheatre, a rock wall about 5km in length, and approximately 1000m in height between the Sentinel (3 165m) and Eastern Buttress (3 047m), with a number of domes rising from its relatively flat summit plateau. In 1836, the French missionaries Arbousset and Daumas named the largest of these domes Mont-aux-Sources - a literal description of this source of five rivers.
Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park: The Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park was declared South Africa's first Natural World Heritage Site on 1 December 1999. It is considered South Africa's third largest park and extends from Mapelane (Cape St. Lucia) in the South, to Kozi Bay in the North.
The Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park incorporates Lake St Lucia, the St Lucia and Maputaland Marine Reserves, the Coastal Forest Reserve and Kosi Bay Nature Reserve.
Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve: The Hluhluwe Umfolozi Park is the only park under formal conservation in KwaZulu Natal where the Big Five occur. Established in 1895, this is the oldest game park in South Africa along with nearby St Lucia Reserve. Set in the heart of Zululand this is the oldest game reserve in Africa, where Zulu kings such as Dingiswayo and Shaka hunted and put in place the first conservation laws. Today, Africa's 'Big Five' (lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo and rhinoceros) stalk the flourishing savannah. Game viewing is the principal attraction in the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve. Viewing hides overlook pans and waterholes enabling one to observe the wildlife at close range.
Willard Beach: In the heart of the Dolphin Coast, Ballito lies nestled between the fields of KwaZulu Natals famous Green Gold and is flanked to the east by golden beaches and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. The waters off Ballito's Beach are the playground of the bottlenose dolphins, which frolic in the waters close to shore and are visible all year round.
Dolphin Coast: KwaZulu Natalís north coast has become known as the Dolphin Coast, due to frequent sightings of bottlenose dolphins who ride the waves of the Indian Ocean in large frolicking schools. It is an enviable strip of coastline that stretches from the Tongaat River at Zimbali to Zinkwazi Beach and the Tugela River mouth in the north, including the inland areas of Umhlali and Shakaskraal.
The Dolphin Coast is a beautiful playground of warm waters, incredible waves, and glorious beaches set alongside fields of sugarcane in a part of the world endowed with humid and warm weather almost throughout the year.
Margate Main Beach: A mile long beach on the South Coast, ideal for swimming, bodyboarding and surfing. There is also a famous fishing spot off a specially-constructed pier. Margate is a vibrant holiday town with dozens of restaurants. Margate boasts some of the most beautiful and immaculate beaches including a blue flag beach. The warm Indian Ocean flows across this wonderful coastline providing it with an abundance of beautiful tropical fish and coral reefs.
Marina Beach: A beautiful, long sandy beach with an adjacent tidal pool. The beach is located between Southbroom and San Lameer and is close to the Trafalgar Marine Reserve and Mpenjati river mouth and lagoon.
Hibberdene Beach: Based on the south coast, Hibberdene is a relatively narrow beach which is sheltered from the southerly winds. The often steeply sloped beach has good waves. A grassy picnic area makes it ideal for families.
Lucien Beach: A quiet but popular beach accessible by a steep set of stairs. Top class lifesaving facilities are in place in a new building which has lots of parking. The elevated parking area provides good views of the sea.
Uvongo Beach: Uvongo Beach is well known for its waterfall that plunges 23m down into the lagoon forming one of the deepest lagoons in the country and the huge rock escarpment, dense with foliage, that shelters the beach.
Midlands Meander: Situated in KwaZulu Natal, the Midlands Meander is just north of Pietermaritzburg and extends from Rietvlei and Currys Post in the east, to Dargle Valley and Fort Nottingham in the west. This stunning stretch is about 80kmís long and brimming with amazing sights, sounds and activities.
No wonder thousands of people traverse the Midlands Meander each year. In 1985 local artists, potters and weavers decided to join forces to create an arts and crafts route.
Sodwana Bay National Park: The small Sodwana Bay National Park consists of a narrow coastal strip of forest covered sand dunes. Sodwana Bay National Park was proclaimed in 1950 and is an anglerís paradise.
Sodwana is a fairly remote area but people travel a long way to drive along the endless beaches in their four-wheel drive vehicles and to dive the coral reefs teaming with colourful fish and some giants of the sea such as whale sharks and manta rays.
KwaZulu Natal Hiking Trails: KwaZulu Natal Hiking Trails - KwaZulu Natal boasts some of the most spectacular scenery South Africa has to offer! From the magical mountain range of The Drakensberg to the Wilderness areas in Maputaland, the endless coastline and the beauty of the Natal Midlands. This beautiful area can be traversed and explored on exhilarating and challenging mountain hikes.
South Coast: The South Coast of KwaZulu Natal is a popular Ďendless summer for allí strip of coastland that trails down from the holiday mecca of Amanzimtoti, the beach playground just outside of Durban, all the way to Port Edward. It is a collection of golden beaches, lagoons, rocky coves, grassy slopes, warm Indian Ocean waters, perpetually sunny weather, sub-tropical forests, and vegetation that draws the crowds, particularly during the festive season.
KwaZulu Natal 4x4 Trails: The KwaZulu Natal Province in South Africa boasts the most spectacular scenery that South Africa has to offer. From the magical mountain range of the Drakensberg to the Wilderness areas in Maputaland, the coast and the Midlands. KwaZulu Natal has so much to offer South African 4x4 enthusiasts. Cedarville is a little town nestled on the foothills of the south most Drakensberg mountains.
The only important airport of KwaZulu-Natal is in Durban. It is the province's largest airport and offers domestic and international flights (only to Mauritius and Swaziland).
If youíre flying in to Durban, book your rented car beforehand. If youíre arriving on a late flight, book Avis and ask them to keep their kiosk open until you arrive. They are happy to comply.
The N2 connects KwaZulu-Natal with Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Eastern Cape and Western Cape. If you are driving from the Kruger National Park to Durban, the N2 between Piet Retief and Pongola is often badly pot-holed. You might do better to travel by way of Middelburg, Ermelo, Volksrust, Ladysmith, and Pietermaritzburg.
Pumula Beach Hotel, Langlois Lodge, Mondazur Resort Estate Hotel, Penwarn Country Lodge, Green Lantern Inn , Woodridge Country Hotel, Hlalanathi Berg Resort, Alpine Heath Resort, Isibindi Zulu Lodge, The Farmhouse Lodge, Cathedral Peak Hotel, Mkuze Falls Game Lodge, Hluhluwe Guest House, Wellvale Private River Resort, Palm Dune Beach Lodge, Forest Suites Hotel