South Africa’s finest multi-cultural bush, mountain and beach safari destination
KwaZulu-Natal, also known as the Zulu Kingdom, is a coastal South African province especially known for its beautiful beaches, sub-tropical climate, warm ocean, mountain ranges and savannah populated by abundant wildlife. KwaZulu-Natal is the wilder, more remote side of South Africa and the true mecca of conservation and Zulu culture.
The beaches of KwaZulu-Natal stretch along 600km of coastline to match the absolute best on the planet. There are golden, sandy beaches perfect for families, as well as wilder stretches of coastal wilderness. Family friendly beaches can be found along Durban’s Golden Mile and along the south coast with good conditions for swimming and snorkelling. Further north, the beaches of KwaZulu-Natal are more remote with huge dunes and coastal forests, also a UNESCO-listed tropical utopia of hippo-filled wetlands and secluded white-sand beaches.
The safari destination Hluhluwe-iMfolozi National Park, in the northeast, is home to endangered black and white rhinos, lions and giraffes. Surrounding private game reserves like Phinda Private Game Reserve and Mkuze Reserve are also considered to be world-leaders in conservation.
Although the beaches and safaris are spectacular, do not forget about the Drakensberg Mountains, Midlands Meander and more. Perfect for a second visit to South Africa, or if you prefer something wilder than the Western Cape, here you can hike in the Drakensberg Mountains, visit Zulu homesteads and tour the battlefields of the Anglo-Zulu wars.
Miles of Sea and Savannah for the Ultimate Wildlife & Birding Safari
Forget about Kruger, head east into KwaZulu-Natal for a wildlife extravaganza that goes beyond the Big Five. This province boasts a coral-fringed coastline that is home to some of the most biodiverse waters in the world, sheltering manta rays, turtles, reef sharks and a cornucopia of colourful fish.
South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage site, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (formerly the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park) is home to sand dunes and savannah, hippo-filled estuaries, mangrove-backed wetlands and beaches fringed by some of the world’s most pristine coral reefs. The waters off the coast here are some of the most biodiverse on Earth – snorkelling and diving reveals manta rays, leatherback turtles, sharks and a host of colourful coral fish.
Migrating humpback and southern right whales are seasonal visitors, as are the vast shoals of the Sardine Run – one of the world’s largest marine migrations – creating a feeding frenzy of sharks, dolphins and seabirds in their wake.
Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve, Africa’s oldest game reserve is home to lions, leopards, buffalos, elephants and giraffe – but its rhinos are Hluhluwe-iMfolozi’s calling card. Home to Africa’s highest concentration of white rhino, conservation efforts here have been credited with saving the species from the brink of extinction. Bird lovers will be in paradise too – with over 340 species to spot including the colourful violet-backed starling and southern bald ibis.
KwaZulu-Natal’s supports over 670 species of birds. Head to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the Elephant Coast for a huge range of birdlife. Its wetlands and estuaries shelter waterbirds – including flamingos, storks and pelicans – while game reserves such as Ndumo and uMkhuze offer sightings of rare pink-throated twinspots, Neergard’s sunbirds and Woodward’s batis. The Drakensberg Mountains offer an alternative, and no-less bewitching birding experience with long crested eagles, jackal buzzards, lammergeiers and cape vultures all to be seen at Cathedral Peak, with rockjumpers to be seen up the famous Sani Pass.
Bustling Durban & the Golden Mile of Family-Friendly Beaches
Bustling Durban is the hub of the province’s business and industry and pulses with all the energy of a major port city. However, Durban is blessed with balmy weather all year round, making it a perfect holiday paradise. Here, the beachfront is bordered by holiday accommodation, 5-Star hotels and luxury apartments, all of which have an idyllic view of miles of beaches and the Indian Ocean.
The Golden Mile is one of most popular tourist attractions in Durban, and as such, is certainly worth exploring. As its name implies, it boasts a gorgeous stretch of several golden beaches, which are lapped by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. These are flanked by the hustle and bustle of some of Durban’s best accommodation, restaurants, entertainment hubs, shops, and cultural attractions.
The Golden Mile is home to some of Durban’s best beaches. These include South Beach (popular for those learning to surf), North Beach (great for swimming and surfing), Addington Beach (excellent for swimming, surfing, and paddling), and the Bay of Plenty (this has the added advantage of being excellent for fishing). The Blue Lagoon is scenic and fabulous for picnics, fishing and just spending time with the family. The beaches are protected by shark nets and lifeguards. The warm sands are also irresistible for joggers, those wanting a romantic stroll, swimmers, surfers, and sun-bathers that are after the best of tans.
Zululand Culture, Battlefields and Drakensberg Mountains
Zululand is situated in a malaria-free area, extending up to Richard’s Bay along the north coast of KwaZulu Natal and inland into the rural heart of KwaZulu Natal, extending north to Pongola, and including the little towns of Ulundi and Vryheid that lie on the border of the Battlefields Route. It is thus an area rich in symbolism and tradition, and the age-old Zulu culture remains today, as visitors are invited into the heart of Zulu villages like Shakaland and Dumazulu where one can visit a sangoma, watch a rural wedding ceremony and experience true Zulu hospitality.
Zululand lies on the brink of both the Battlefields Route and the Drakensberg, yet this land that is home to tea plantations, cattle farms and pretty little inland towns is also rich in wildlife and birdlife. The battles fought in the rolling hills and valleys of northern KwaZulu-Natal some 120 years ago changed the course of South African history, and still today, the area now known as the ”Battlefields” seems to echo with the heroic and often tragic deeds of the past. The sites of famous skirmishes that rocked the British, weakened the Boers and broke the mighty Zulu nation continue to draw visitors.
The Drakensberg, the largest mountain range in South Africa is a truly magical place and one of South Africa’s prime ecotourism destinations and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is a dynamic wonderland of river valleys, mountain streams, rugged cliffs, hiking trails and stunning scenery that attracts thousands of travellers every year as the mountain region literally bursts at the seams with exhilarating adventure activities and amazing accommodation. You can enjoy kayaking, tube riding, horse riding, do 4×4 trails, hiking, hang gliding, mountain climbing, swimming, canyoning, fly-fishing and so much more.
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