Tourist Attractions of KwaZulu Natal
Tourist Attractions of South Africa
South Africa is a vast and extremely fascinating country that packs a powerful tourist punch. Few countries can match it for variety and diversity in attractions, activities and cultural groups. From art and history to food and wine, wildlife and nature, nightlife, shopping and even places of worship – there is so much on offer to attract, entice and entertain.
The Western Cape with its mountains and oceans offers scenery that has inspired thousands of descriptions. It has great beaches, World Heritage sites, romantic winelands and museums that celebrate a rich cultural heritage. You can’t talk about a trip to Cape Town without discussing the fabulous cuisine and shopping options that draw tourists time and time again.
Gauteng’s brash exterior belies its depth, uncovered at numerous cultural and historical attractions. Places like Constitution Hill, the Apartheid Museum and Soweto feature alongside chi-chi restaurants, funky galleries, shopping malls and fascinating visits to the Cradle of Humankind, where all our stories began.
In Mpumalanga you’ll find a host of nature-related attractions, arts and crafts outlets, country towns, cultural villages and stupendous scenery along the well-known Panorama route. Of course one of the major attractions is the world-famous Kruger National Park.
Limpopo shares this wildlife sanctuary - the size of a small country - and has many of its own nature reserves. It also boasts the fascinating Mapungubwe, where once an ancient kingdom developed a field of influence that spread beyond the continent. Intriguing groups such as the Venda and the Balobedu still practise culturally-rich traditions in the far north of this region.
The North West is all about Sun City, and the Pilanesberg and Madikwe Game Reserves, but don’t forget the mampoer farms and the idiosyncrasies of the Marico, the cultural mélange at Lesedi on the shores of the Hartebeespoort Dam or the little town of Taung where the famous skull of the same name was discovered. From the Margaret Roberts Herbal Farm (De Wildt) to Sol Plaaitje’s house in Mafikeng, there’s much to explore.
Immense skies and enormous spaces characterise the Northern Cape, along with attractions such as the Big Hole in Kimberley, the Loeriesfontein Windmill Museum and the myths and legends as taught by the ancient San. The Augrabies Falls National Park, the Ais/Ais Richtersveld National Park and the Riemvasmaak community all offer interesting experiences and insights.
KwaZulu-Natal has its own brand of uniqueness when it comes to tourist attractions. Here you can visit a Hare Krishna temple in Durban, pay your respects at the Battlefields in the Midlands, come face to face with Zulu culture and celebrate some of the finest beaches along the Indian Ocean coastline. Sunny year-round, the province has great places to shop, eat, and discover.
The Eastern Cape is a place of rich heritage and struggle sites. Here historic monuments find their place alongside fun aquariums and beachside establishments. Malaria-free game sanctuaries and numerous nature reserves thrill adventure-seekers and nature-lovers.
Small towns and homegrown hospitality are the distinctive attributes of the Free State. Visit the Basotho Cultural Village on the way to the spectacular Golden Gate National Park, visit the Choet Visser Rugby Museum in Bloemfontein or the Fertility Caves (outside Clarens). Make your way to the fun galleries of Clarens, feast visually on the sandstone sights of Ficksburg and drink in the fascinating history of the provincial capital, Bloemfontein.
Wherever you go around the country, you’re bound to find a fun attraction, a moving museum, a great place to enjoy the local vibes. Enjoy surfing the Nightjar site for the best attractions on offer in each of the provinces.
Articles & Blogs
24 Hours in Hluhluwe12:09pm 26 Feb
By Romi Boom
The feast of the uninvited begins as our table is set for lunch at Maphumulo picnic site. Enter a handsome nyala bull, unfazed by human presence. Shortly afterwards the big boy is joined by an equally casual ewe. The pair browse awhile, then saunter along. I’m so excited I can hardly swallow my tuna salad.
Our late-morning entry through Memorial Gate has already produced top class action: a rhino sighting just alongside the road, their trust in humanity tragic. Then we find ourselves gridlocked in a zebra traffic jam. Are these animals laid-back or what?...
Living with Wildlife in iSimangaliso2:22pm 29 May
St Lucia Estuary has always been a rather unique sort of town, totally surrounded by the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site.
Fringed by lush coastal forests and the Park’s marine protected area of the Indian Ocean shoreline in the east, the Eastern Shores section to the north and the Lake St Lucia estuarine system to the south and west, this thriving tourist destination has been made world-famous by the proximity to wildlife that wanders freely through the streets and fringes of town.
A Walk in the Wild3:03pm 18 Feb
By Bryony McCormick
On the Wilderness Trail, you literally walk away from all technology and home comforts into the heart of the bush, surrounded by dangerous and small game, with nothing but what you can fit into your backpack, plus two armed guides—and an open mind. The result: one-on-one interactions with hyenas at 3 a.m.
I’ve never been good at making fires, and I wasn’t sure what was making me more nervous: the fact that I had to keep the campfire burning, or the fact I had to keep watch over my sleeping trail companions from dangerous game, on my own, for an hour—...
iSimangaliso Salutes Zaloumis4:53pm 1 Oct
After some 20 years of outstanding leadership and a career dedicated to people-centred conservation, Andrew Zaloumis has stepped down as CEO of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. He will pursue his studies in sustainability at Cambridge University UK and continue to contribute to Southern African conservation and development.
Zaloumis was actively involved in the conservation side of iSimangaliso’s activities together with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. These included the historic reintroduction of lion into the Park after an absence of 44 years. Due to an increase in the threat of rhino...
Sodwana Bay Shootout6:25pm 18 Apr
The iSimangaliso Sodwana Bay Shootout photography event, within the marine heart of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site, is takes place in May.
After an invitational event in 2016 with key underwater photographers, journalists, dive operators, and iSimangaliso’s marketing team, the think-tank to re-launch this popular annual Eco-Series event has come up with fresh and dynamic ideas for a world class event with inputs from some of the country’s leading underwater heavyweights.
As part of their trip, the invited media group was privileged to join the release of two...
Restoring Lake St Lucia Estuary9:55pm 7 Feb
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park has signed two contracts of R23.41 million each with T&T Marine (Pty) Ltd and Scribante Africa Mining (Pty) Ltd. Both contracts will run until the end of June 2017 and are for the loading, hauling, tipping and disposal of sand from the dredge spoil island in the mouth area of the Lake St Lucia Estuary. This brings the total value of iSimangaliso’s restoration project to R61.82 million.
The existing Phase A (see diagram below) contractor, Cyclone Engineering Projects (Pty) Ltd, has received a contract extension for R5 million, in...
Big Tuskers of Tembe Elephant Park10:26pm 12 May
Pics Erik Schram, Adrian Binns
On April 13, 2016, James Currie and his team of wildlife experts launched a Kickstarter campaign to complete the elephant documentary, Last of the Big Tuskers. The film covers the life and death of Isilo, one of the largest elephants in the world, and explores the future of the remaining big tusker elephants in Africa. Big tusker elephants are those elephants with tusks weighing more than one hundred pounds a side. Only forty of these majestic animals remain on earth today.
Lake St Lucia’s Lifeline Cut Off6:57pm 17 Mar
The fresh water currently flowing into iSimangaliso’s Lake St Lucia Estuary from the uMfolozi River as a result of recent rain is a godsend.
With 90% of the Lake St Lucia’s surface water dried up, 315km2 of the 350km2 lake bed lies exposed and barren, ravaged by the drought. What little water is left is five times saltier than the sea in places. The highest tolerance level for estuarine species is between two and three times saltier than the sea.
”Between 12 and 14 March 2016, some 6.2 billion litres of fresh water entered the Lake St Lucia system,...
A Herd Act to Follow5:04pm 17 May
Words Andrea Abbott, pics Andrea Abbott and Supplied
High on remote Dartmoor we find a pastoral scene: a herd of Nguni cattle, their coats of many patterns lending contrast to the green landscape. Bright-hued, newborn calves, secure in the 188-strong crowd, peep out uncertainly as we mingle with the bovine throng.
In their midst, big daddy Stallone, a muscular, wide-horned fellow with not just a chip but a hell of a bump on his shoulder, holds us in his disconcerting gaze. “He won’t charge, will he?” I ask Donna Lay, manager of Dartmoor which, in case you’re wondering, is...
Tracking Turtles in the Place of Miracles9:55pm 27 Jan
Words Debbie Cooper, pics iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority
The silent beach is shrouded by a fine sea mist, the gloaming punctuated only by hundreds of ghost crabs scuttling out of the way of our vehicle’s headlights. Moonlight glints on the curling waves and the gentle womb-like swish of the sea is a balm to the soul.
We are on the hunt for one of nature’s greatest and increasingly rare spectacles – a turtle laying her eggs on the pristine shores north of Cape Vidal in...
Our Palm-Nut Vulture6:30am 2 May
Our Palm-Nut Vulture
Meet the Palm-Nut Vulture – one of the rarest raptors in South Africa, although widespread throughout the rest of the Africa. Unusual for birds of prey, it feeds mainly on the fruit of the Oil Palm, although it also dines on crabs, snails, locusts, fish and domestic chickens. In South Africa Mtunzini in KZN is a well-known hotspot for these birds. F4.5, 1/5000 sec, ISO 400, 400mm telephoto lens.
Enchanted Forest6:30am 24 Apr
Imagine walking through a forest where the trees surrounding you are around 500 years old. A place preserved in time where a tree’s canopy can stretch to over a kilometer. I was lucky enough to take a rare walk through the pristine Hawaan Forest in a private restricted property somewhere in Umhlanga. The Hawaan Forest is a climax dry coastal dune forest, one of the only remaining in such areas. A dedicated team has been working furiously in the forest to ensure this magical place remains a national treasure. As I walked on lightly trodden paths I...
Kloof Gorge6:30am 13 Mar
If you’re into breathtaking views, nature, hiking, waterfalls, and all that jazz, then you need to get in your car and make a trip to the Kloof Gorge in Kwazulu Natal. This popular place is situated within the 4.47km Krantzkloof Nature Reserve and during the peak of summer it is often visited by families and groups of young people who can be found sliding down and jumping off rocks into the crystal clear water or picnicking on the sidelines. It’s a great alternative to the beach and a much more exciting option than a swimming pool, so get to the gorge!
- Daniella Toscano
Summer Cicada11:30am 25 Jan
This cicada was photographed in summer at Giant’s Castle in the Drakensberg, using a technique called photo stacking to get the whole bug in sharp focus. It involves taking about 40 images of the bug at different focus points and then 'stitching' them together using dedicated software (HeliconFocus in this instance). It also requires the bug to sit perfectly still for about a minute.
Howick Falls11:55am 1 Dec
The Howick Falls are 95m high - and from the viewing platform they look really impressive - but they are a significantly smaller than the uThukela (Tugela) Falls in the Drakensberg which are not only the highest falls in South Africa at 947m but fourth highest waterfall in the world. Since 1851 there have been over 20 deaths recorded at Howick Falls, including young Charles Booker a sixteen-year-old from Michaelhouse who took a bet of twenty pounds in 1940 that he could dive into the pool at the bottom. The falls are known to the Xulu people as KwaNogqaza which means 'Place of the Tall One...
Turtle Tours5:55am 22 Oct
If you’re anywhere near iSimangeliso or Kosi in KZN include a turtle tour into your itinerary. Between November and March Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles waddle onto the beach at night to lay their eggs, returning each year to the exact same spot. The accredited guides are eco-sensitive and allow you to take photos at the right time, this was a snap of a Loggerhead turtle that I was lucky enough to capture during my turtle tour. This is for all those non-divers out there - this is your chance to see these magnificent creatures up close!
Black-Backed Jackal (Rooijakkals)5:55am 21 Aug
Photographed here in the foothills of the Drakensberg near Sani Pass, Canis mesomelas, an aggressive scavenger, is mainly responsible for the drastic reduction in sheep farms in the area. With pup births conveniently timed to coincide with the lambing season, these jackals kill sheep with a bite to the throat before opening the flank for feasting.
Over the years, attempts have been made to combat this threat with hunting clubs, dogs, poison, and gas, but today, professional hunters lure jackals by using recorded jackal calls. In the Karoo, the past ten years have seen...
Sani Pass – Not just a pretty view5:55am 15 Aug
World famous Sani Pass, is known for its breath-taking views and rough terrain, however, on a recent visit, myself and Bushwise Senior Trainer Charles, were on a mission for more than just amazing views.
The Sani Pass area itself is an immensely diverse area with a huge amount of wildlife… if you know what to look out for! Along the start of the pass, King Protea are prevalent – as are huge amount of birding specials such as Gurney’s Sugarbirds and Drakensberg Siskins. Rock Hyraxes (or Dassies) were seen at numerous rocky outcrops along the pass. (Did you know their closest...
Hollywood's Cheetahs4:55am 1 Jul
Ever wonder where Hollywood’s animals go when they’re not lighting up the Silver Screen. Well, most likely, they’re taking a well-deserved break in the Natal Lion Park, a few kilometres from Ashburton. I had the opportunity of meeting Sasha, one of the cheetahs who starred in Duma (2005). After initially a tad reluctant, she warmed to me quite quickly, and I even received a sandpaper lick on the face. The cheetahs are not always available for viewing and are kept under the loving eye of their caretaker, Silvana Stockley. However, the park is open for general tourism at R100 a car...
Zebras at Shongweni11:55am 24 Jun
Wild contributor Justin Fox got up close and personal with these zebra at Shongweni Dam Nature Reserve near Durban. If you have the chance to visit this lovely reserve, don’t miss out. The dam lies like a shimmering jewel amidst rolling hills and lush forests. You’ll find keen anglers and happy picnickers on the dam’s shores, as well as a herd of zebras “as friendly as Labradors”. Justin started off photographing the animals with a zoom lens, but the zebras were so trusting that he moved closer. Soon he was sitting right inside the herd with the animals grazing around him. “It...