A must-see region of mighty Zulu kings, big game safaris, golden beaches and serene country hideaways, KwaZulu-Natal is a tourism leader in South Africa.
Tailor-made tours and getaways incorporating all the gems of this tour-worthy province are a brilliant way to experience all that Kwa-Zulu Natal has to offer.
Enter the region through the vibrant gateway city of Durban – a tourist hot-spot of world-class beaches and loads of entertainment. Check in at Quarters in the suburb of Morningside, and enjoy the charm of a chic Victorian hotel close to the buzz of the city.
Leave the city hype behind you and head for the Midlands, a lush strectch of country intersected by rivers and extending from the foothills of the Drakensberg in the west to the coast in the east. The Midlands Meander is an appealing 80km route of artists, potters, cheese makers, beer brewers, refreshment stops and a variety of local crafters displaying a fabulous array of wares. All this amid farmlands, glistening dams and majestic views of the Drakensberg Mountains. Stay at Hartford House, a gorgeous country homestead set on a thoroughbred stud farm, where the food and wines are excllent, the accommodation sumptuous, and the ambience divinely romantic.
Travel a little closer to the peaks of the Drakensberg – the ideal base for adventurers, hikers and those who get high on views. Scenic waterfalls, stunning mountain paths and ancient rock art sites make up an enchanting world. Cathedral Peak Hotel is a family favourite in the heart of the Drakensberg, offering almost every activity imagineable. Food-lovers will want to head for Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse in the Kamberg Valley, to indulge the senses with meals extravagant and extraordinary.
The KwaZulu-Natal battlefields capture the stories of heroic battles fought between the Zulu and the British. Superb tours of the battlesites of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift are offered at Fugitives’ Drift Lodge & Guest House and Isibindi Zulu Lodge. Both are set in scenic nature reserves. Further to the west lies Three Trees at Spioenkop, a Colonial-style guest house in the foothills of the Drakensberg.
The Elephant Coast includes the best of both terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and invites big game safaris, fishing, birding and plenty of eco-action. The region has an impressive variety of big five game reserves.
Positioned above a waterfall in Zululand, the Mkuze Falls Big Five Game Reserve provides an upscale safari. It’s your choice whether you opt for a stylish chalet or an air-conditioned tent. Either way, expect to meet the big five and soak up all the sights and sounds of the African bush. Not far from here is AmaKhosi Safari Lodge, a superbly luxurious lodge which also offers first-rate game viewing. Its sumptuous river suites provide a bush break in the lap of sheer luxury.
The Pongola Game Reserve is the oldest in South Africa and supports a variety of wildlife. White Elephant Safari Lodge, a hugely appealing tented camp set above Jozini Dam, has earned recognition as a conservation partner and leader in the Space for Elephants project.
The Isimangaliso World Heritage Site (formerly Greater St Lucia Wetland Park) is a pristine asset and features the largest marine lake in Africa. Situated within the proclaimed reserve, Makakatana Bay Lodge boasts a setting of lake estuary, forest, dunes, wetlands, savannah thornveld and coral reef waters. It is recommended that you set aside at least three days to enjoy the Makakatana experience. Hippo and crocodile safaris are one of many experiences that beckon.
Also set in the St Lucia area, Hluhluwe River Lodge is an adventurer’s dream, offering game drives to the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve, birding, botanical outings, horse safaris, self-guided hiking, quad-biking and boat cruises. It’s the kind of place that welcomes the entire family, young and old.
From here, you might want to travel further north to the idyllic Mabibi Bay, where Thonga Beach Lodge rests well off the beaten track, providing exclusive barefoot luxury in a dune forest just above the ocean’s high water mark. Its a great destination for snorkelling, swimming with whale sharks and dolphins, canoeing on Lake Sibaya, or just lazing about along a pristine shoreline. If you plan your visit between November and February, stand by for an awesome experience of turtle tracking.
If forests have any appeal, then Kosi Forest Lodge in Maputaland is a must. Trendy and very romantic, the lodge offers canoe trips on a placid lake, walks through raffia forests, and day trips to stunning beaches.
The South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal is tropical and temperate, and offers access to the warm Indian Ocean. Golfers would feel right at home at Selborne Hotel, Spa & Golf Estate, a charming country hotel set on a superb golf estate at Pennington. It caters for the whole family, with a dedicated programme for children and a health and beauty spa for self-spoilers. Not far from here is Lynton Hall, a baronnial guest house in grand Indian Colonial style.
Known as the Dolphin Coast, KwaZulu-Natal’s North Coast is a sub-tropical region of delights, the hub of the Zulu Kingdom, and a hugely popular holiday destination. If it’s luxury you’re after, stay at Hotel Izulu – a boutique hotel in a sun-drenched setting at Ballito, offering an on-site spa and access to all KwaZulu-Natal’s attractions.