Tag Archives: KwaZulu-Natal

Beaches, battlefields and bateleurs – KwaZulu Natal is small but mighty

The Western Cape’s Garden Route is rightly a well-trodden path for international visitors to South Africa, while Kruger is known worldwide as an iconic safari destination. But for those wishing to escape ‘well trodden’ and to really get under the skin of South Africa, then we recommend looking east to the tiny province of KwaZulu Natal.

KwaZulu Natal may be South Africa’s third smallest province but this doesn’t stop it packing a punch as far as experiences are concerned with two World Heritage sites, fabulous beaches, the Big Five, historic battlefields and a colourful Zulu culture.

Our new KwaZulu Natal in Luxury itinerary, brings together the very best of KwaZulu Natal to showcase what can be done in a two week holiday.

KwaZulu Natal in Luxury, 15 days from £3,770 per person including international flights, accommodation and car hire.

Here are five reasons why KwaZulu Natal should be on your wish list:

CULTURE

This historic Zulu kingdom is steeped in history and culture, from ancient San Bushmen rock art sites in the UNESCO World Heritage uKhahlamba-Drakensberg mountain range, South Africa’s highest mountain range, to a living museum in Hluhluwe where traditional Zulu dancing and craftwork are demonstrated. The remnants of the British colonial era blend with Zulu, Indian and Afrikaans traditions to give this province a rich cultural diversity.

BEACHES

Beautiful beaches stretch every which way from the gateway city of Durban and being on the Indian Ocean coast, the added benefit is that the water is actually warm while shark nets and lifeguards ensure that time in the water surfing and swimming is spent safely. Alluring cafes and sophisticated restaurants line the stylish Umhlanga Rocks area near Durban, perfect for downtime after a long international flight.

WILDLIFE

Abundant wildlife can be experienced along the Elephant Coast to the north of Durban. Within iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a 328,000 hectare UNESCO World Heritage Site benefiting from beautiful beach and reef habitats of the Indian Ocean on one side and steamy tropical lake, forest and wetland habitats on the other, visitors can canoe, trek, fish and wander along stunning beaches in search of leatherback turtles, dolphins and whales. Inland at Phinda, a private game reserve, you can stay in luxurious safari camps and see all the Big Five as well as a host of other wildlife including wild dogs. This area is known for its thriving black and white rhino population, following concerted conservation efforts.

FOOD & WINE

Take the Midlands Meander, a food and wine trail where farm stalls like Piggly Wiggly, cafes and restaurants beckon. Viticulture is in its first decade of development but there are already notable labels including Abingdon and Lion’s River to sample along the way. Finish the Meander with a stay at Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse, a gourmet retreat set in a remote valley on a lake where seven course dinners, mountain walks and roaring log fires are the order of the day.

BATTLEFIELDS

No trip to KwaZulu Natal would be complete without a stay in the Battlefields. An area made famous by the Anglo-Boer Wars. The quiet hills now ring with the voices of expert guides who tell visitors of South Africa’s bloodiest chapter in history, of the struggle at Isandlwana where the British were defeated by the Zulu in 1879 and then just days later how the British defended Rorke’s Drift so gallantly.

To find out more about the lodges we offer in KwaZulu Natal, like historic Fugitives’ Drift, or to receive a tailor-made itinerary for South Africa then please do get in touch with us on 01603 283 517.

By Sara White

 

 

Spotlight on the Drakensberg Mountains South Africa

The Drakensberg Mountains are found in the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. This stunningly picturesque region is a 200-kilometre-long mountainous  UNESCO world heritage site.

The Zulu people named it ‘Ukhahlamba’, the Barrier of Spears, and the Dutch pioneers called it the Dragon Mountain’, hence the name Drakensberg, and both names are very appropriate for the awe inspiring craggy peaks and beautiful mountain landscapes. This area has been home to mankind for a very, very long time with thousands of rock and cave paintings by the early San people (also known as Bushmen). In fact the history of the area is so important that it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 2000 in order to protect and preserve its cultural and natural heritage.

The scenery is truly epic in the Drakensberg Mountains and it is a popular destination with tourists to South Africa. It is an area that combines well with a safari in the Kruger and makes for a great self-drive itinerary. Combining sheer natural beauty with a wealth of biological diversity, this enormous 243,000 hectare mountainous region provides a great contrast to other parts of South Africa and offers a unique atmosphere for the visitor. The mountains tower above the surrounding African bush, with slopes lined with lush forests, deep valleys, stark cliffs and cascading waterfalls.  The line of mountains creates a massive barrier which separates KwaZulu-Natal from the neighbouring Kingdom of Lesotho. The only road access to the Drakensberg is via the Sani Pass, which at the top, boasts the highest pub in Africa, where you can enjoy a drink at 3,000 metres above sea level!

There are lots of activities to choose from whilst staying and visiting the Drakensberg Mountains. The bravest can tackle sheer rock or ice- climbing or even the adrenaline rush provided by abseiling, white water rafting or taking a helicopter ride to view the Drakensberg mountains from above. Others might prefer hiking through the stunning scenery with plenty of trails and routes to choose from. There are gentle strolls exploring the lower slopes or you can explore further on a two day camping hikes up in the higher peaks for the hardier souls. The flora and fauna of the region are not to be missed with 290 species of birds, 48 species of mammals, and many rare varieties of plant life found in this national park.

The scenic highlights that should not be missed off any itinerary include Cathedral Peak, the Giant’s Castle, Champagne Castle or Peak (3248m), the Amphitheatre, and Tugela Falls which cascades down 5 separate drops to form  the second highest waterfall in the world. The area was also home to the Boer War between the Dutch Voertrekkers and the British and the wars between the native Zulus and the European Settlers. Many of the battle sites can be visited today.

The area is divided up into four valleys, beginning with the Champagne Valley in the Central Berg, through the Cathedral Peak and Didima Valley, then the Royal Natal National Park and Amphitheatre Valley, and finally the Middledale Pass Valley in the Northern Berg. Each of the four valleys has its own kind of beauty and character; all have magnificent mountain views. Accommodation can be found across the region ranging from luxury mountain resorts to small, cosy family run hotels and lodges.