Province & Region
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KwaZulu-Natal is a province of such variation that it is hard to know where to begin.
From the touristy beaches of the South and North Coast to the wild and lonely stretches of the Elephant Coast. From the lakes and estuaries of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (www.isimangaliso.com) to the high peaks of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg. From the untamed wilderness of the game reserves to the tranquillity of the Midlands. There is something for everyone here.
If it is wilderness and seclusion that you are after, head for the beaches and game reserves of the Elephant Coast. Access has become a lot easier with the upgraded road infrastructure. Fortunately the essential character of the area has not changed.
The game reserves are less congested than some of the better known ones. The beaches, particularly those of the Coastal Forest Reserve, are practically deserted. There is a range of outdoor activities on offer, but this part of the world is very popular for its scuba-diving and salt water fishing.
There was a time when the coastal towns of the South Coast had become a little run down. The same was true for Durban’s beachfront attractions. However, with a renewed focus on tourism, much has changed. You will discover this when you try to make a booking during school breaks, when the whole coastline, north and south, pulsates with holidaymakers.
Heading inland, your progress is soon arrested by the formidable mountains of the Drakensberg. By global standards these mountains are quite modest, topping out at less than 3 500m. But the escarpment has eroded into a rich tapestry of ravines and gullies, presenting a series of ever-changing vistas to those energetic enough to venture into its embrace.
The management plan for this World Heritage Site has sensibly allowed development in some of its valleys, but the quid pro quo was to allow almost none in others. This has preserved the sense of the wild and lonely places the mountains are famous for.
On the doorstep of the ‘Berg are the Midlands. Here life is more relaxed. Over the years a large number of artists and crafters have set up shop in the towns and on farms and smallholdings. If your idea of a Saturday well spent is a lazy sleep-in and a bit of browsing between lunch and dinner, this is the place for you. There is also a range of outdoor activities on offer, including world-class technical river rafting, quad biking and fly-fishing.
The rest of the interior is perhaps the Cinderella of the province. Here the driving distances between attractions are greater, and the tourist infrastructure less developed.
There are still a few jewels to be found, such as Ithala Game Reserve. For history buffs, this is area rich in history – it is not called the Battlefields for nothing.
Articles & Blogs
Valley of a 1000 AdventuresValda 12:26pm 8 Jan
By Tate Drucker
The sight of zebras, sparkling water and birds soaring above acacia trees instantly stilled my restless heart as I arrived at the reserve. It was hard to believe somewhere so picturesque could exist only an hour’s drive away from downtown Durban.
Over the course of the weekend I got to know the view from many different angles. From renting a canoe to paddle on the dam’s placid waters, to exploring the winding shoreline by bike, to having a picnic in the shade of an acacia tree as those zebras grazed nearby, I drank my fill of the scenery.
Durban Botanic Gardens Festive Trail of Lights 2018Valda 11:47am 16 Dec
Lights. Laughter. Memories.
If you’re wondering how you’re going to make this festive season extra special, then look no further than the annual Durban Botanic Gardens’ Trail of Lights. From 14 to 30 December, Africa’s oldest botanic gardens will be lit up with thousands of lights, loads of outdoor fun and festive activity.
Here’s what to expect….
Following on from last year’s glittering success, the Durban Botanic Gardens Trust and event organisers have extended this fun-filled event to two weeks over the festive season, incorporating an even larger portion of the...
Titleholders Return to Durban RunValda 9:44pm 23 Sep
Pics Tobias Ginsberg, Anthony Grotes & Rogan Ward
Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei will return to Durban on Sunday, 14 October 2018 to defend his title at the 2nd annual FNB Durban 10K CITYSURFRUN.
In 2017 Cheptegei ran the fastest time ever on South African soil over the 10km, clocking 27:28 to break the previous all-comers record of 27:55 set by Kenya’s Andrew Limo in Port Elizabeth in 2009. Cheptegei made the decisive break in 2017 just after the 6km mark when he forged ahead of team mate Stephen Kissa and Swiss sensation, Julien Wanders. Only a strong...
Bannerman Pass – Langalibalele PassValda 5:08pm 11 Sep
By George Brits
We recently decided to give the Berg a bash, but being a tad out of shape, decided on one of the easier routes to the escarpment: up Bannerman pass, and down Langalibalele pass in the Giant’s Castle section of the park. We did the trail over four days, although it is quite possible to do it in three if you are pressed for time.
The trail starts at the Giant’s Castle Camp in the central Drakensberg. It ascends the little Berg via Bannerman path and the first night...
A Friendship Turned to GoldValda 2:00pm 29 Aug
By Simon Capstick-Dale
Siseko and Piers are two athletes from vastly different worlds, who were brought together – against all odds – by their determination to win gold in the 2014 Dusi Canoe Marathon. The team’s inspiring story of courage, friendship and perseverance was made into a feature film, Beyond the River, which screened in South African cinemas last year.
Success in life should never be determined by where you live or how much money you have – we can all overcome our situation once we put our minds to it.”
iSimangaliso Sodwana Bay FestivalValda 9:55pm 5 Aug
Each year, the annual iSimangaliso Sodwana Bay Festival event delivers outstanding photography submitted for the renowned competition. Based at one of the World Heritage Site’s jewels, the world class coral reefs and scuba diving destination plays host to visitors from all over South Africa and beyond, seeking a long weekend of sun, water and exquisite marine life.
“This year,” says Lindy Duffield, iSimangaliso’s Marketing and Brand Manager, “a new strong focus was placed on community involvement and delivering a very clear conservation message. Together with festival organiser...
Living with Wildlife in iSimangalisoValda 2:22pm 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.
10 Country Escapes in KwaZulu-NatalValda 9:55pm 22 Apr
KwaZulu-Natal is the perfect long-weekend destination for those of us who live in Gauteng. It takes around 7 hours to get there and there are various kinds of accommodation to choose from. Here are some of the best camping, glamping, luxury and family spots for a weekend away
1. Southern Drakensberg, Ambleside Lodge, Underberg
Family holidays aren’t always easy – what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander. You need to find a place with activities that the family can enjoy either as a group or individually. Ambleside Lodge is such a place, with something...
iSimangaliso Trail Challenge 2018Valda 6:39pm 25 Mar
Undeniably, one of the best ways to experience the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is on foot, and one of the only ways to explore certain parts of the Park is by entering the iSimangaliso Trail Challenge that will take place from the 28th of June to the 1st of July 2018. Hosted on the edges of the Lake St Lucia Estuary, the event looks set to be a fast sell out. Only two hundred places have been made available for the exquisite course set within South Africa’s first proclaimed World Heritage Site.
To make this experience more accessible, a shorter distance that totals 42km over the three...
A Walk in the WildValda 3:03pm 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—...
Madswimmer Shark SwimValda 9:55pm 30 Jan
At sunrise on 2 December Madswimmer took the plunge to attempt the fastest 100km swim ever in one day. Twenty one swimmers and a 24 strong support team made their way to the mighty Agulhas Current about 20km offshore from Park Rynie - to swim to Port Edward to raise awareness for sharks being on the verge of extinction.
Over the last several months Madswimmer involved numerous experts to contribute to the meticulous planning of this swim.
Founder Jean Craven explains...
Sani Pass Wild Flower WalkValda 3:23pm 31 Dec
The next Sani Pass (and Lesotho) Wild Flower Walk will take place on Sunday 28th January 2018.
This could be your last chance. The upgrading of Sani Pass has now begun. Work has started on the stretch between Good Hope and the South African border post. No one knows when work on the section we walk, the 8km to the Top will begin, so again we say that this may be your last opportunity to walk to Sani Pass before road works take over.
Add a short walk through the botanical wonderland of the Lesotho plateau to your exciting day on the Sani Pass.
And if that’s not...
iSimangaliso Salutes ZaloumisValda 4:53pm 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...
Hot pace at 2017 Mont-Aux-Sources ChallengeValda 7:08pm 25 Sep
Pics Sven Musica
The 2017 Old Mutual Wild Series Mont-Aux-Sources Challenge was yet another cracking trail run through the Royal Natal Park, part of the Ukhahlamba-Drakensberg World Heritage Site. Runners set off in batches from 05h30, with the first man home just before 10h30. The winner in the men’s race was debutant Quintin Honey, who took first place in a time of 4:42:26.
The ladies winner was Tracy Zunkel in a time of 5:51:16; Zunkel is a long-time supporter of...
iSimangaliso’s Trail ChallengeValda 7:43pm 6 Aug
In July 2017 the beach and bush paradise of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park felt the footfalls of 127 trail runners as the first iSimangaliso Trail Challenge took place in the southern parts of the marine and terrestrial World Heritage Site.
Hosted by Andrew Booth and his professional team from KZN Trail Running, the magnificent weather and scenery created an unsurpassable setting for the three stage 82km event. Runners started off with a 6km full moon beach run on Friday night, followed by two days of trail through big game country and beach stretches at spring low tide. While a lucky...
iSimangaliso Trail Challenge LaunchedValda 6:30pm 23 Apr
Pics Terence Vrugtman, AdventureLifeSA
There is, quite simply, nowhere else like it: to watch – while running along game tracks on the top of the highest vegetated coastal dunes on the African continent – southern right whales in the Indian Ocean below, hippo and flamingo in Lake St Lucia to the west and big game in close proximity.
The inaugural iSimangaliso Trail Challenge – the latest addition to the Park’s Eco-Series events – will take place from the 7th-9th July 2017. It’s the first running event of this nature to be hosted in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park...
Sodwana Bay ShootoutValda 6:25pm 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...
Clean and Green in PenningtonValda 5:15pm 21 Feb
Words Andrea Abbott, Pics Andrea Abbott and Lennart Eriksson
Reduce, re-use, recycle – it’s the clarion call of our times. Team Recycling in Pennington on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast are certainly heeding it…
Vast amounts of rubbish strewn about South Africa suggest that there are far too many people ignoring the urgency of the situation, but then there are others who set an example by rolling up their sleeves to clean up their environment and keep it that way.
One inspiring group is Team Recycling in Pennington on the KZN South Coast...
Restoring Lake St Lucia EstuaryValda 9:55pm 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...
iSimangaliso BirdingValda 9:55pm 30 Oct
Words and pics Peter Chadwick
A flock of prehistoric-looking Greater Flamingos flew low across Lake St Lucia, where I stood barefoot on the wooden jetty near Charters Creek.
On the muddy beaches in the early light, I could see the spoor of hippo, crocodile, waterbuck, Burchell’s zebra, common reedbuck, porcupine and water mongoose – signs of the rich life in what is one of South Africa’s most diverse and special places...