The promise of the place was discerned centuries ago by tribes people for whom the sheltered bay offered a tranquil haven, teeming with game, birds and fish. Over the years,Kwazulu-Natal saw its share of conflict as British, Boer and Zulu struggled for ascendancy.
Over the years, Kwazulu-Natal’s holiday accommodation has grown and streamlined itself, and now attracts millions of visitors each year. Today, Kwazulu-Natal is considered to be one of the fastest growing regions in South Africa and attracts a year round stream of holiday makers.
Durban is the capital city of Kwazulu-Natal and is famous for its ‘Golden Mile’ of hotels, beaches and seaside entertainment. On this strech of coast, the beach and pedestrian reign supreme among African craft markets, pavement cafe’s and beach promenades. It’s an ideal spot from which to watch the world go by, and if you tire of this, a host of sights and activities lies within convenient walking distance.
A lively rickshaw ride along the coast tops the list of attractions. These colorfully decorated two wheelers, a unique feature of the beachfront, have come to symbolize Durban as a tourist city. Clustered around the beach are stalls of Zulu bead and basket sellers. Close by is the seaworld complex, where trained dolphins are put through their paces several times a day. They can also be viewed along with sharks, turtles and other marine life through the glass tanks in the aquarium.
At the start of the century, Durban was a booming colonial city in touch with the world beyond its shores. Architectural style was shifting from Victorian to Edwardian, and an extraordinary range of buildings sprung up.
Nighttime in Durban is fun time, offering a wealth of after-dark diversions. After a hot and active day, the beachfront is an ideal place to begin an evening jaunt with sundowner in hand while watching the ships light up in the outer anchorage. Many of the nightspots are found within the all-star cast of hotels along the beachfront. Restaurants, cocktail bars and discos bustle into the early hours of the morning with swarms of pleasure seeking holiday makers.
The late 1800’s saw a mass influx of people from India. This community of people brought with them a rich tapestry of language, architecture and cuisine. A visit to the Grey Street trading area and the Indian market presents a kaleidoscope of sight, scent and sound. Windows are crammed with dazzling jewellery, trinkets and saris.
In addition to its luxuriant city verges, Durban has many formal islands of green.Best known of these are the Botanical gardens of Berea, a tranquil haven for birds and plants.
Day drives north of Durban are set against a backdrop of almost continuous rippling green: these are the sweeping fileds of sugar cane. The old North Coast Road, dubbed the Sugar Way, winds it way through a string of small towns , all of which owe their existence to sugar: colorful Vermeulen , Tongaat with its temple towers and neo_cape Dutch architecture, the Tongati River with a crocodile farm on its banks, and Stranger where the Zulu king, Shaka, built his last kraal before being assassinated in 1828.
Shaka’s Way is the name given to the coastal drive which sweeps along the shore before veering inland. It takes in the busy resort of Umhlanga, with luxury hotels, golden sands and a protected dune forest – then passes by various smaller towns of the Dolphin Coast. From Umdloti beach to Zinkwazi, there are numerous beach holiday gems set in tranquil Mediterranean like surrounds.
On the south bank of the Tugela river is the Fort Pearson historical area with a national monument commemorating the Anglo-Zulu conflict. A big attraction of the Zululand hills is the game: black and white rhino, giraffe, elephant, leopard, buffalo, cheetah, antelope, crocodile and hippo can be viewed in the various inland reserves. Umfolozi and Hluhluwe, proclaimed in 1987, are both manageable as day outings. Within close reach of these reserves is the angling and bird paradise of Lake St Lucia.
The subtropical charms of the Kwazulu-Natal south coast has an endless ribbon of sandy beaches, fringed by evergreen coastal forest and dotted with pretty lagoons. Highrise blocks tower over dunes, and clusters of hotels and seaside villages stand at the interface of land and ocean.
From Amanzimtoti to Port Edward, a multitude of resorts has sprung up, but the nature has not been suppressed. Everywhere the wild flowers bloom, adding their magic to the ‘Strelitzia Coast’ which stretches as far as Scottburgh, and to the ‘Hibiscus Coast’ which extends southwards to Port Edward. Holiday-makers head south with different aims: scuba divers make for the Aliwal Shoal near Clansthal – a notorious spot for shipwrecks but a diver’s delight; craft-collectors are drawn to the road-side curio stalls with their range of Zulu basket- and bead work, carvings, pottery and fresh fruit; while sun-lovers go in search of a beach for swimming, surfing, fishing or just sunning.
Nature lovers, wanting to escape the heat of a summer’s day, will enjoy the bird sanctuary and Llanda Wilds Nature Reserve at Amanzimtoti. Just outside Scottburgh is Crocworld, where crocodiles can be viewed in quiet captivity. Further south and slightly inland of Umzinto, the Vernon Crookes Reserve offers abundant bird-life and is well-stocked with game. From here, the coastal road to Port Shepstone takes in many small holiday hideaways, various angling resorts and a few larger coastal towns. Inland of Port Shepstone is the breathtaking sight of Oribi Gorge, carved out by the powerful Umzimkulu River. The densely forested slopes of this ravine are home to baboons, leopards, wild cats, antelope, and many beautiful birds.