South Africa is a popular destination for many reasons, one of them being the exchange rate of course, and another being the diversity of her land. With nine provinces to choose from, each with a topography that differs from the next, this country is an outdoor lover’s dream! With that said, let us go on a journey into The Zulu Kingdom, a coastal province formally known as Kwa Zulu Natal situated in the southeast of South Africa.
As the name suggests, Kwa Zulu Natal is home to the Zulu people, the largest ethnic group in the country, with a history that dates back hundreds of years. The province is renowned for her mountains, beaches, and wildlife reserves, and to be able to visit all three is nothing short of a bucket-list holiday adventure.
Surf City & Surrounds
Travellers flying into King Shaka International Airport will be welcomed by incredible birds-eye views of the sparkling Indian Ocean waters and depending on the season, may even catch sight of whales breaching across the horizon. Some of the country’s top coastal resort towns are situated a mere 15 minutes from the airport and after a long-haul flight checking into a beachfront hotel, relaxing by the poolside, and indulging in fresh, local seafood is one way to start your trip.
A highly recommended day excursion in this region would be a city tour of Durban. This is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the cultural melting pot that will unfold before your eyes as you travel along the Golden Mile and into the city centre. Travellers will have the chance to view the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium up close and experience the bustling Victoria Market. There are also short boat trips available from the harbor that can be organized on arrival.
Pic: The Oyster Box
The Elephant Coast
The next part of the journey takes us up north. Two and a half hours from King Shaka Airport lies the town of St Lucia, a World Heritage site and the start of The Elephant Coast. The Hippos of St Lucia are the star attraction and a boat cruise on the estuary will give you brilliant sightings of these formidable mammals. The estuary is also home to Nile crocodiles and hundreds of species of birds. If photography is your thing you do not want to leave your camera behind for this one!
About an hour or so further north you will find the oldest proclaimed game reserve in Africa, Hluhluwe Imfolozi, where the Big Five (elephants, lions, leopards, rhino & buffalo) roam the land. It is also here that the White Rhino was saved from the brink of extinction through ‘Operation Rhino’ back in the 1960’s, which makes sightings of these animals in this reserve even more special. The further you travel north the more game reserves you will come across, each with their own unique offerings and it is worth choosing one or two private lodges for a truly superb safari experience. The Elephant Coast stretches all the way to Kosi Bay, a natural paradise with an abundance of wildlife and unique eco system. There is something for everyone along this journey and we recommend giving yourself a few days to explore.
The Drakensberg Mountains
The more time you have in Kwa Zulu Natal the better and we recommend prioritizing a visit to one of the natural wonders of South Africa, the Drakensberg Mountains. The ‘Drakensberg’, meaning ‘dragon mountains’, is made up of enormous peaks and one of the popular activities of this region is ascending up the adrenalin-pumping Sani Pass in 4x4’s into the landlocked country of Lesotho. Once at the top you will be taken into a Basotho Village and this will be followed by a bite to eat at ‘The Highest Pub in Africa’. The accommodation in the Drakensberg ranges from utterly charming to five star luxury and each offers a range of fun, outdoor activities in beautiful surroundings.
The Midlands Meander
Returning to King Shaka Airport from the Drakensberg Mountains you will travel through the Midlands Meander. This area is a delightful mix of restaurants, boutique stores and unique outlets that showcase the work of local artists and is the perfect place to pick up a souvenir to take back home! The Mandela Capture Site can also be found on this route, which commemorates the day Nelson Mandela was arrested by police and later imprisoned for 27 years on Robben Island.
If you have not done so already, start packing your bags and get yourself to this special part of the world for what will most probably be one of the best decisions of your life!