Umhlanga & Ballito
The holiday centre of South Africa because of its balmy climate, KwaZulu Natal is a very relaxed region that is known for its superb warm Indian Ocean beaches and the surfers’ paradise of Durban. Most visitors head for the more upmarket beaches at Umhlanga and Ballito on the north coast, but if you are on a budget the small towns along the south coast offer a wide range of accommodation with superlative beaches.
Hluhluwe & Private Game Reserves
Zululand’s wildlife is renowned, with some of the best birding in South Africa. Hluhluwe Game Reserve and adjoining iMfolozi, once the royal hunting ground of King Shaka, gained fame as it was here that the black rhino was saved from extinction. All the big-five can be found as well as many other species. There are a range of affordable and luxury safari lodges situated outside the gate, and simpler rest camps inside the park ideal for self-driving and self-catering.
The safari options on KwaZulu Natal holidays are excellent as there are also some outstanding private game reserves that cater for the upper end of the market such as Amakhosi, Thanda, Thula Thula and Phinda. Mkuze Game Reserve is great for birders, as it has some wonderful hides.
St Lucia & Thonga Beach
A boat ride on the St Lucia estuary in the iSimangaliso Wetlands, a World Heritage Site, is must on a Kwazulu Natal holiday as here you can see hippos and crocodiles, as well as great birdlife. You can also take an ocean safari to see turtles, dolphins, and migrating humpback whales from July to October. Further up the coast at secluded Thonga Beach you can snorkel and take a boat ride to search for wild dolphins.
From November to January loggerhead and leatherback turtles nest on this secluded stretch of coastline and a night-time guided marine walk is a magical experience. Enjoy canoeing on the lakes at Kosi Bay, where local fishermen still use traditional woven fishing traps, tiger fishing from a houseboat on Lake Josini and visiting Tembe Elephant Park, close to the border with Mozambique.
Diving in KwaZulu Natal
Sodwana Bay is the centre for scuba diving off the warm Mozambique Reef as well as deep-sea game fishing for the combative marlin, sailfish, barracuda and kingfish. On the south coast you will find Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks, two famous shark diving sites for advanced drift divers, where you can swim among Tiger, Zambezi, Ragged tooth and Hammerhead sharks.
The Bushman paintings found in the mighty Drakensberg Mountains are another World Heritage Site that should not be missed. Named Barrier of Spears by the Zulus, these mountains offer wonderful walking, horse riding, tennis, mountain biking and trout fishing opportunities. Bird watching is also excellent, especially for raptors that nest in these cliffs. Many famous Boer War battlefields such as Spionkop, Ladysmith and Colenso are within easy reach and from the southern Drakensberg you can ascend the Sani Pass by four-wheel vehicle into Lesotho. Don’t forget to collect your passport stamp at the border!
KwaZulu Natal is a also a magnet for golfers due to its year round sunshine, and it boasts some of the best championship courses in the country.