KwaZulu-Natal has long been a premier holiday destination – and with very good reason. It offers beautiful scenery, ranging from wonderful seascapes to lush tropical forest and mountains – and even boasts what is reputed to be the world’s smallest red desert!
KZN provides the best that sea and sand can offer, with many beaches along the KZN coast having been awarded Blue Flag status as a mark of excellence. Its game reserves have long been a drawcard for wildlife enthusiasts. Here are just some of the diverse attractions KwaZulu-Natal can offer you on your next holiday.
The scenic beauty of the Drakensberg
The Drakensberg mountain range (“Dragon Mountains” in Afrikaans) is breathtaking. Massive peaks such as Mont-aux-Sources and Cathedral Peak tower above forests and plunging valleys fed by sparkling streams and some of the world’s highest waterfalls.
It contains a UNESCO World Heritage site, the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, as well as the Royal Natal National Park with its famous Amphitheatre. A wide variety of accommodation is available ranging from hotels, vacation resorts, self-catering units, B&Bs to backpacker and camping facilities.
The area’s spas and hotels offer pampering to those who require it and excellent golfing facilities. Other activities include hiking, rock climbing, trout fishing, game viewing, biking, horse riding, river rafting and even hot air ballooning!
KZN’s beautiful South Coast
The KZN South Coast stretches from Scottburgh for about 100 miles (170kms) to Port Edward, and inland up to Harding. This magnificent coastline is much sought after by holiday makers and is known as the ‘Paradise of Zululand’. It incorporates some 58 beautiful beaches of which no fewer than nine have achieved Blue Flag status, including Hibberdene, Lucien, Marina, Ramsgate, Southport, Trafalgar and Umzumbe. Its temperate climate makes it a year-round holiday destination.
Apart from offering some of the best surfing beaches in the world, this area also offers ocean safaris, dolphin and whale watching, scuba diving, horse riding, hiking, biking, game drives, and even shark cage diving!
Awe-inspiring Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve
Oribi Gorge is a canyon of stunning cliffs and ravines excavated by the Umzimkulwana River. It is about 17 miles long (more than 25kms), more than 500 feet deep and more than half a mile wide at its widest point. It lies an easy half-hour drive from Port Shepstone, the main hub of the popular South Coast holiday area.
Home to more than 350 bird species, this is a bird-watcher’s paradise, with seven eagle species and five different kingfishers alone to be spotted. Various small antelopes, the rare samango monkey, baboons and even leopards occur here.
Oribi Gorge offers facilities for day visitors and varied accommodation for overnighting, including camping. There are many hiking trails, a game reserve, as well as river rafting and ziplining.
And if you’re feeling really intrepid, why not try the world’s highest swing over the 500-foot deep gorge? Be assured you’ll be securely strapped into a full body harness before they let you jump into the abyss!
Immerse yourself in nature and wildlife
KwaZulu Natal is synonymous with the beauty of nature and wildlife, and home to numerous game reserves. These include Hluhluwe-Umfolozi (a Big 5 reserve), Mkuze, Tembe and Ndumo. There are also many private game reserves and luxury game lodges in KZN. Thanda Safari provides their guests with the ultimate in pampering, combined with a superb wildlife experience and exposure to Zulu culture.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park, (previously known as the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park) is South Africa’s first world heritage site. Turtle tours, guided walks, kayaking and estuary tours are just some of the activities that allow visitors to experience its beauties.
Have a Sodwana adventure
Sodwana Bay National Park is one of the world’s best diving destinations, and forms part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. It contains huge stretches of unspoiled coral reefs with an amazing array of invertebrates and Indo-Pacific fish, including moray eels, mantas, lionfish, crayfish and many species of sharks, including whale sharks.
Aside from diving, the area is known for its surfing and kite-boarding, as well as deep sea fishing for sailfish and marlin. You can hike along the coastal trails, ride horses on the beach, or indulge in some quad biking. Both leatherback and loggerhead turtles nest on the beaches here, and turtle tours are offered to see them.
Dig dat Durban!
Or Durbs, as it’s affectionately known locally! Durban is South Africa’s third largest city, and is a vibrant, multicultural center with a strong Indian and ethnic Zulu flavor intermixed with its colonial heritage. Its Golden Mile personifies its diversity with high-rise hotels, shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. It runs along the famous North Beach that has beckoned sun, sea and surf lovers for many years.
Among Durban’s many attractions are uShaka Marine World, the superb Botanical Gardens and Japanese Gardens, and the Moses Mabhida Stadium. The Playhouse Theater, dating back to 1935, has long been a crucial element in Durban’s cultural life, as has its many art galleries and museums.
Umgeni River Bird Park is a must to experience, as are the magical night gondola rides along Durban’s waterfront. Many and varied day tours are available, and are a great way to squeeze in as much of this vibrant city as possible!
Feature Image Source: Flickr