Natal, KwaZulu Attractions
Top Tourist Attractions in Natal
Despite being a relatively small province, KwaZulu/Natal has a concentration of everything travelers come to South Africa for. There's the Drakensberg mountain range with its scenic views plus beaches, savannas and historic Boer War and Anglo-Zulu battlefields.KwaZulu/Natal has a population of over 10.2 million (over 21% of South Africa's total population), mostly Zulus and a thriving Zulu culture is still in practice today.The province's center of population and administration is the Durban/Pinetown area which also has the main concentration of South Africa's Asian population. The provincial capital is Pietermaritzburg.
Lake St Lucia is the main attraction of St Lucia Wetland Park. Known for being the country's largest inland lake, the park has abundant bird life, including flamingos and pelicans.
These game reserves were established in the late 1800s, making them some of the oldest in the country.
The landscape of the Mkuzi Game Reserve is a mix of coastal dunes, wooded steppe, forest, and savanna. The area attracts large numbers of birds.
The Ndumu Game Reserve features wetlands of tropical and subtropical habitats, and dense forest that are home to hippos, crocodiles, cheetahs, and other large game.
Eshowe lies in a beautiful sugar-growing area to the west of N 2, which here runs parallel to the north coast of KwaZulu/Natal. It is an attractive town and a good stopover on a journey into the Zulu heartland.In 1860 the Zulu king Cetshwayo or Cetewayo established his royal kraal in this area before moving to Ondini. During the Zulu Wars both Eshowe and Ondini were destroyed. After the annexation of Zululand and its incorporation in the province of Natal the British authorities built a number of forts in the region, including Fort Nongqai in Eshowe. The town became the administrative center of the newly conquered territory in 1887.An agricultural show held here annually in June draws large numbers of visitors.
Dlinza Forest Nature Reserve
On the outskirts of Eshowe is the Dlinza Forest Nature Reserve (area 200ha/500 ac home to many small mammals. Some of the trails in the park are said to have been made by British troops stationed here in 1879 after the end of the Zulu Wars.
Opening hours: 7:30am-5pm
Fort Nongqai (Zululand Historical Museum)
Fort Nongqai now houses the Zululand Historical Museum.
Amanzimtoti, situated on the Umbogintwini River to the south of Durban, is the first of the many holiday resorts which lie along the 160km/100mi of coast between Durban and Port Edward. The town owes its name to the story that when the great Zulu king Shaka drank the water of the Umbogintwini for the first time in 1828 he exclaimed "Kanti amanza mtoti!" ("The water is fresh!").The town has grown considerably in recent years and is now almost a suburb of Durban. It attracts some 300,000 visitors a year.The most popular part of the 7km/4.5mi long sandy beach, interrupted here and there by rocky promontories, is the Nvoni Rocks area, which among other facilities has a seawater swimming pool.
Amanzimtoti Bird Sanctuary
At the end of Umdoni Road, surrounded by Ilala palms, is the Amanzimtoti Bird Sanctuary (area 4.5ha/11ac) which is home to large numbers of exotic birds. The best observation points are the viewing platforms at the upper end of the pool.
Opening hours: 6am-6pm
Ilanda Wilds Nature Reserve
In Amanzimtoti, on the river Amanzimtoti, is the Ilanda Wilds Nature Reserve (area 14ha/35ac), in which live some 300 different species of birds. More than a hundred species of trees and shrubs can be seen on well laid-out nature trails.
Vryheid is the largest town on the Northern Natal Battlefields Route, which takes in various battlefields, the scene of fighting between British forces and Zulus and between British forces and the Boers.Vryheid was briefly the capital of the New Republic proclaimed by the Boers in 1884, which survived only until 1887, when it was incorporated in the Transvaal. It has, however, preserved a number of historic buildings from the period of independence, including the Volksraad and the Lucas Meyer House, once the home of the State President's widow and now a museum
Itala Game Reserve
70km/45mi northeast of Vryheid, on the Swaziland border, is the Itala Game Reserve (area 30,000 ha/75,000ac), which was established in 1972. Beautifully situated in the valley of the Pongola River, it is reached by way of the little town of Louwsburg. Here, in the open bushveld, furrowed by deep valleys, live both species of rhinoceros, impalas, water buffaloes, giraffes, kudus, baboons and numerous other mammals.Experienced park rangers lead groups of visitors on three-day hikes through the reserve. They can also explore the park in their own car on the 30km/19mi long Ngubhu Loop Auto Trail. There is a wide range of accommodation for visitors, from a luxury lodge by way of comfortable chalets to a camping site.
Facilities: On-site accomodations
Paulpietersburg (pop. 9,000), 50km/31mi north of Vryheid, is an important coal-mining and forestry center.16km/10mi from the town is Lurula Natal Spa, with hot springs and various facilities for treatment and recreation.
Estcourt is a small industrial town on the Bushman River in an intensively cultivated farming area. Although the town itself has no outstanding features of interest, it is a good center for visiting the Drakensberg. Estcourt is one of the oldest towns in Natal, a voortrekker settlement having been established in this area in 1838.
Mooi River (pop. 13,000), 30km/20mi south of Estcourt on the river of that name, is another good center for trips into the Drakensberg. A favorite recreation area with the people of Mooi River is the Craigburn Nature Reserve (area 330ha/815 ac), on the road to Graytown, within which is a small artificial lake (fishing, boating; picnic spots).
Weenen Nature Reserve
30km/19mi northeast of Estcourt is Weenen Nature Reserve (area 5,000ha/12,500ac). A number of hiking trails run through the reserve, which is home to rhinos, buffaloes, giraffes and various species of antelope.
Wagendrift Dam, 5km/3mi southwest of Estcourt, offers good fishing and water sports.
Moor Park Nature Reserve
At the end of Wagendrift Dam is the Moor Park Nature Reserve, in which there are zebras and various species of antelope.
Fort Durnford, established in 1874 by Major Anthony Durnford, is now a museum.