Kwazulu Natal South Africa


Kwazulu Natal

uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park

uKhahlamba is Zulu for "barrier of spears", an apt name for the jagged peaks of the Drakensberg Mountains. The park, a World Heritage Site, boasts spectacular topographical features like the Amphitheatre, a four-km. long, 1,000 metre high crescent of basalt rock, the dome of MontauxSources, rising 3 282 meters, and Cathedral Peak. The Thukela Falls, which plunge 948 meters down sheer cliffs, are another outstanding feature. The park is also known for its stunning San rock art. Activities include hiking and horse-riding.

Durban

With its year-round sunny climate, wide, sandy beaches, variety of cultural attractions and lively nightlife, Durban is dubbed as "the place where the fun never sets". Boasting the busiest harbour in Africa, it is aptly known by the Zulu as "eTekweni","the Place of the Bay". The beachfront is lively, with its souvenir sellers, cafes, bars, restaurants, amusement parks and aquarium. Culturally, Durban presents a mix of European, Zulu and Indian influences - the latter in evidence in the Victoria Street market and the many Indian restaurants. Arts and crafts can be viewed at the BAT Centre and African Arts Centre, while the Kwa Muhle Museum illustrates the history of the indigenous people and the freedom struggle. Several buildings, in particular the City Hall built in 1910, reflect the British colonial past. Just north of the city is the attractive resort of Umhlanga Rocks. Head south to Port Shepstone to take a trip on the Banana Express narrow-gauge steam train. Explore the Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve, with its prolific bird life, staying at one of the South Coast's charming holiday resorts like Margate, Ramsgate or Port Edward.

Greater St Lucia Wetland Park

A World Heritage Site, the park comprises a lake, islands and an estuary encompassing a number of eco-systems -forests, grasslands, scrub-covered dunes, beaches and coral reefs. Famous for its bird life, such as flamingos and pelicans, the estuary is also inhabited by Nile crocodiles, hippo, waterbuck plus many other species of African wildlife. Cruises operate on Lake St Lucia. Nearby is the renowned Phinda private game reserve. Head north for the world's southernmost coral reef in the Sodwana Bay National Park.

Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve

The oldest game reserve in South Africa contains an abundance of wildlife, including the Big Five - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. Credited with saving the rhino from extinction, the park can be explored on open-vehicle day and night drives - or, for the more adventurous, selfguided walking trails and guided wilderness trails. Other game reserves worth visiting in KwaZulu Natal include ltala, Ndumo and Mkuzi.

Pietermaritzburg

From the Drakensberg you can follow the R103 from Mooi River along the arts and crafts route known as the Midlands Meander to Pietermaritzburg. The city is full of Victorian and Edwardian buildings. One landmark is the City Hall, a national monument. Another Victorian masterpiece is the railway station. Here, because of his race, Mahatma Gandhi, then an aspiring lawyer, was turned off a train in 1893 - an action which sparked his revolutionary political ideas, first in South Africa and later in India. A statue in Church Street commemorates this famous freedom fighter.

Shakaland

This is one of a number of Zulu Cultural Villages where you can learn about the traditional Zulu way of life, their beliefs, crafts, songs and dances. Shakaland, originally the set for the film "Shaka", is near the town of Eshowe. Other cultural villages in KwaZulu Natal province include DumaZulu, Kwabhekithunga, PheZulu open-air museum and Simunye Zulu Lodge.

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