This Sub tropical Zulu Kingdom is a fascinating combination of tribal culture, historic battlefields, unspoiled tropical beaches, marine life in Maputaland, the immense Drakensberg Mountains, cosmopolitan Durban city and not least big 5 national parks and game reserves. Hluhuwe-Umfolozi. Phinda and Thanda Game Reserves offer superb wildlife game viewing and are some of the best places in Africa to see black and white rhino.
A Self-drive is definitely an option. Take 2 weeks, usually starting in either Johannesburg or Durban and stop off at country lodges along the way. Apart from being a perfect setting for a safari, KZN attractions include hiking, golfing, bird watching, horse riding, fishing, turtle watching and San bushmen rock art.
On the coast, witness the unforgettable Sardine Run, see dolphins and whales and relax on golden beaches with getaway coves. Enjoy the biggest music, sport and arts festivals in an even bigger city life in the picture-postcard seaport of Durban.
The Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama saw the coast of Natal on Christmas Day 1497. Natal is the Portuguese word for Christmas which gave rise to the European name for the region. The area was occupied centuries ago by the Nguni branch of the Bantu.
KwaZulu-Natal also referred to as KZN and known as “the garden province” is a province of South Africa that was created in 1994 when the Zulu bantustan of KwaZulu (“Place of the Zulu” in Zulu) and Natal Province were merged. It is located in the southeast of the country, enjoying a long shoreline beside the Indian Ocean and sharing borders with three other provinces and the countries of Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho. Its capital is Pietermaritzburg and its largest city is Durban. It is the 2nd most populous province in South Africa, with slightly fewer residents than Gauteng.
During the 1830s and early 1840s, the northern part of what is now KwaZulu-Natal was occupied by the Zulu Kingdom while the southern part was, briefly, the Boer republic of Natalia before becoming, in 1843, the British Colony of Natal. KwaZulu remained independent until 1879.
KwaZulu-Natal was made up of the old province of Natal, and the old homeland of KwaZulu. It also has a Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, based in Ulundi. He has some representative power for the Zulu people, but only under the government of South Africa. Pietermaritzburg is now the capital city, and the main languages in KwaZulu Natal are Zulu, English and Afrikaans.
At around 92,100 km2 in area, KwaZulu-Natal is roughly the size of Portugal. It has three different geographic areas. The lowland region along the Indian Ocean coast is extremely narrow in the south, widening in the northern part of the province, while the central Natal Midlands consists of an undulating hilly plateau rising toward the west. Two mountainous areas, the western Drakensberg Mountains and northern Lebombo Mountains form, respectively, a solid basalt wall rising over 3,000 m (9,800 ft) beside Lesotho border and low parallel ranges of ancient granite running southward from Swaziland. The area’s largest river, the Tugela, flows west to east across the center of the province.
The coastal regions typically have subtropical thickets and deeper ravines; steep slopes host some Afromontane Forest. The midlands have moist grasslands and isolated pockets of Afromontane Forest. The north has a primarily moist savanna habitat, whilst the Drakensberg region hosts mostly alpine grassland.
Two areas in KwaZulu-Natal have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the uKhahlamba (“row of spears”) Drakensberg Park.
Durban is a rapidly growing urban area and is by most measures the busiest port in Africa. A good railway network links the city to other areas of Southern Africa. Sugar refining is Durban’s main industry. Sheep, cattle, dairy, citrus fruits, corn, sorghum, cotton, bananas, and pineapples are also raised. There is an embryonic KwaZulu-Natal wine industry. Other industries (located mainly in and around Durban) include textile, clothing, chemicals, rubber, fertiliser, paper, vehicle assembly and food-processing plants, tanneries, and oil refineries. There are large aluminium-smelting plants at Richards Bay, on the north coast.
The subtropical climate in KwaZulu Natal, means anytime of the year is worth a visit. The best times to visit are April through to November. Temperatures peak from January to March with slightly cooler conditions falling in the period June to August. Other seasonal highlights include mid August to mid September for wildflowers. The whale watching season runs from June to November.
KwaZulu-Natal has a varied yet verdant climate thanks to diverse, complex topography. Generally, the coast is subtropical with inland regions becoming progressively colder.
Durban on the south coast has an annual rainfall of 1009 mm, with daytime maxima peaking from January to March at 28 °C (82 °F) with a minimum of 21 °C (70 °F), dropping to daytime highs from June to August of 23 °C (73 °F) with a minimum of 11 °C (52 °F). Temperature drops towards the hinterland, with Pietermaritzburg being similar in the summer, but much cooler in the winter. Ladysmith in the Tugela River Valley reaches 30 °C (86 °F) in the summer, but may drop below freezing point on winter evenings. The Drakensberg can experience heavy winter snow, with light snow occasionally experienced on the highest peaks in summer.
The Zululand north coast has the warmest climate and highest humidity, supporting many sugar cane farms around Pongola.
January sees the anniversaries of the Battle of Isandlwana and the Battle of Rorke’s Drift.
If you are flying into Durban, take a couple of days out to pamper yourself in a luxury hotel on ...read more
If you are flying into Durban, take a couple of days out to pamper yourself in a luxury hotel on the ocean’s edge. The Oyster Box is a favourite 5 star property close to Umhlanga for a huge choice of restaurants and shops.
South Africa’s first World Heritage Site on the east coast of KZN whose eight ecosystems include ...read more
South Africa’s first World Heritage Site on the east coast of KZN whose eight ecosystems include swamps, lakes, coral reefs and 220 km of Indian Ocean beachfront. Lake Sibaya is the largest freshwater lake in South Africa.
Lake Sibaya was once at the mouth of a mighty river, and was open to the sea. Now, a high forested duneland divides Lake Sibaya from the coastline.
Take a Turtle Tour from St Lucia to see huge leatherback and loggerhead turtles laying eggs from ...read more
Take a Turtle Tour from St Lucia to see huge leatherback and loggerhead turtles laying eggs from November. Or, from January and March watch the turtle hatchlings emerge.
Hluhluwe Umfolozi Park - best known for saving the white rhino from extinction through Operation ...read more
Hluhluwe Umfolozi Park – best known for saving the white rhino from extinction through Operation Rhino. It’s the oldest proclaimed game reserve in Southern Africa with excellent birding and home to the Big 5.
Rocktail Bay, famed for its stunning sands, excellent scuba diving and snorkeling, as well as the ...read more
Rocktail Bay, famed for its stunning sands, excellent scuba diving and snorkeling, as well as the chance to see impressive leatherback turtles.
Photo credit: Anthony Grote
The Sardine run is one of the world’s great marine spectacles. Billions of sardines gather to ...read more
The Sardine run is one of the world’s great marine spectacles. Billions of sardines gather to spawn from May to July, attracting whales, dolphins, seals and sharks. Follow the huge shoals by boat or get closer on a snorkel.
Photo credit: Anthony Grote
With the names of Zulu Wars, Shaka, Isandlwana, Rorke's Drift, Colenso, Spioenkop, Ladysmith and ...read more
With the names of Zulu Wars, Shaka, Isandlwana, Rorke’s Drift, Colenso, Spioenkop, Ladysmith and Dundee triggering a host of memories, explore the internationally renowned KwaZulu-Natal Battlefields to relive some of South Africa’s amazing history.
The scenic Drakensberg Mountains are a highlight for adventure and outdoor activity lovers. ...read more
The scenic Drakensberg Mountains are a highlight for adventure and outdoor activity lovers.
Possibilities include – hiking, horse riding trips and 4×4 tours up the Sani Pass to the Roof of Africa bordering Lesotho.
The Zululand region of KwaZulu-Natal extends from the Dolphin Coast at the Thukela River mouth to ...read more
The Zululand region of KwaZulu-Natal extends from the Dolphin Coast at the Thukela River mouth to Richards Bay in the north and inland to Paulpietersburg.
A visit to Shakaland or Dumazulu will allow you to become part of an authentic Zulu wedding; assist with the daily chores around the village or visit a local sangoma (traditional African healer). Take an ox-wagon to visit Zulu beehive huts or a township tour – to see shebeens (pubs), taverns and traditional medicine shops – to learn how the locals have adapted their age-old traditions to suit modern living.
Located in Phinda Private Game Reserve, Forest Lodge is hidden within dense sand forests and looks out over pristine natural bush. Termed “Zulu ... Read More
Loftily elevated above the Phinda Reserve, Mountain Lodge commands spectacular views over the Lebombo range and the untouched natural wilderness ... Read More
Located in Phinda Private Game Reserve, Rock Lodge is dramatically constructed on a cliff face, and looks out over the breath-taking valley ... Read More
One of the six luxury lodges within Phinda Private Game Reserve in Maputaland, Vlei Lodge is surrounded by open meadows, and rare sand ... Read More
Situated on a trout dam with the soaring Drakensberg Mountains as a backdrop, the owner-run Cleopatra is an intimate getaway offering gourmet meals ... Read More
Fugitives’ Drift Guest House is located within a natural heritage site, close to the infamous Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift battlefields. Owned ... Read More
The Big 5 Safari company is a supporter of the The Zambezi Society and support its vital conservation work and anti-poaching patrols.Discover