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KwaZulu Natal

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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.

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