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
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...
Marriott Dargle Trails FestivalValda 9:55pm 9 Aug
On Sunday 14 August the Lions River Club will once again host the popular Marriott Dargle Trails Festival; a day packed with a variety of trail running and MTB events to suit all fitness levels.
Following on from the success of previous years, the 5th Marriott Dargle Trails Festival promises to once again offer some of the best trails in the Midlands area and an exciting family day out.
The course is prepped by local landowners and will take participants through natural forest, protea fields, plenty of farmland and offer exquisite, unobstructed views across the...
iSimangaliso - Remarkable Victory for NatureValda 7:12pm 19 Jun
Judge Mohini Moodley has dismissed the application by uMfolozi Sugar Planters UCOSP and two farmers against the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, and the Departments of Environment Affairs, Water and Sanitation, Rural Land Reform and Development and Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries. In her closing on Friday 20 May 2016, Moodley concluded that the interim relief had run its course and dismissed the main application along with two others. Reasons for the judgement and costs would follow.
Moodley noted that this matter had demanded a great deal from iSimangaliso and UCOSP and that...
A Dragon’s FuryValda 9:55pm 7 Jun
Words Linda Willemse, pics X-Berg Challenge
She has slashed at the earth to leave deep valleys. Her breath can be as hot as fire on some days and she can give you the most chilly look that leaves you standing in a cold sweat on others... Attempting to a traverse from her spiky tail to her rugged neck is only for the brave! This is the DRAGON, which sees 18 extraordinary athletes set out to conquer in the Drakensberg (Mountain of the Dragons) in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa.
Declared a World Heritage Site, the Maloti-Drakensberg Park, comprises...
Big Tuskers of Tembe Elephant ParkValda 10:26pm 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.
Drakensberg Northern Trail SkyMarathon®Valda 9:55pm 10 Apr
Pics Terence Vrugtman | www.adventurelifesa.com
The 2016 Skyrunner® Series kicked off on Saturday in a blur of skyrunning speed at the Drakensberg Northern Trail SkyMarathon®, with Potchefstroom-based Johardt van Heerden and Nicolette Griffieon taking the overall men's and women’s podium respectively.
With the DNT being this year’s SA long distance trail championship, their wins crowned them South Africa’s long distance trail champions for 2016. In a first for trail running in our country, both achieved an extra...
Lake St Lucia’s Lifeline Cut OffValda 6:57pm 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,...
In the Place of MiraclesValda 9:16pm 8 Nov
Words Anita De Villiers, pics Anita De Villiers and supplied
It was the elephant breeding
herd that rumbled a welcome
to iSimangaliso’s Western Shores. They moved like shadows in
the twilight, only an arm’s
length away, their presence so close
to us we could feel their ancient bond
with this place.
“Elephant invasion of Makakatana Bay Lodge is a regular occurrence,” said owner Hugh Morrison, who had been rather busy with some refurbishing after a pachyderm visit just the previous week. But the adrenalin surge had boosted the...
A Cactus in the SugarcaneValda 9:53pm 24 Sep
Words Gerhard Horn, pics GG van Rooyen
Winter came as a bit of a surprise this year. One day we were walking around in our shorts and plakkies and 24 hours later we were sitting in the corner shivering as the cold winds blew in from the south. The scattered showers early in June didn’t help our frame of mind.
So we did what any right thinking summer-loving individuals would do – we went to Durban. We happened to have the new Citroën C4 Cactus parked outside, so we loaded up this compact crossover and went in search of adventure in a warmer clime.
A Winter Grand Traverse - Well, Close Enough!Valda 9:18pm 8 Sep
Words and pics Kai Fitchen & Marine Drouilly
The thermometer in the tent read a comfy minus 6 degrees C. We clumsily dressed inside our ice-dusted sleeping bags, examined our swollen feet and quickly massaged some warmth into our tender quads. I’d underestimated this trek into the ‘Berg. It was only day two of our attempt of the Drakensberg Grand Traverse (DGT) and we were taking strain.
We’d had decided to give the DGT a go just a couple of weeks previous to our arrival at Sentinel car park trailhead. Marine, my short and feisty French girlfriend, was annoyed I was...