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KwaZulu-Natal Is South Africa’s Best-Kept Secret

Most travellers heading to South Africa for the first time focus on the wilds of Kruger National Park and the cultural attractions of Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula. Perhaps travellers also head along the Wine Route and make time for one of the other game reserves in this massive African nation. However, when selling South Africa, don’t overlook KwaZulu-Natal, the eastern coastal province known as the “Garden Province.” Not only does it have magnificent national parks for game drives, but it is home to the Indian-influenced wonders of Durban and the villages of the Zulu people. In many ways, it is South Africa’s best-kept secret. So let’s get you up to speed on its details so you can sell it to your clients on their next African vacation.

Durban and its Surroundings

Outdoors is where you have to be in Durban. This is the wet ’n wild city, where the sun shines all year round, the warm Indian Ocean calls, and the fun never stops. Your clients can spend their time here swimming, surfing, hiking, biking, and exploring the history and the spectacular mountain scenery.

Must-Do Attractions: Travellers can watch Zulu dancing in the magnificent Valley of a Thousand Hills, or stroll around the Heritage Market in Hillcrest and enjoy its quaint shops and restaurants. You should also encourage your clients to meander along Umhlanga’s promenade and even consider a day trip to the majestic Drakensberg Mountains. And don’t forget to mention the unforgettable drive through the rolling green hills and enjoy the country cuisine and relaxed shopping of the Midlands Meander.

Drakensberg Amphitheatre

Your clients can meet the picturesque diversity of the Rainbow Nation on an early-morning stroll along Durban’s Golden Mile beachfront. There, travellers can jog, cycle, swim, surf, and paddle board. Travellers will see baptisms, talented sand artists, and informal souvenir shops. It’s an amazing display of this flourishing, life-filled city.

Travellers can take a short drive north to Umhlanga, sometimes called the “New City Centre,” to find a metropolis of the most-impressive mansions, glittering office blocks, and stylish beachfront apartments, representing the vast new development of today’s residential and commercial lifestyles. This is where your clients will find the bright lights of Durban’s future.

Durban’s port is the busiest in Africa and the waterfront is fringed with colourful restaurants, bars, shops, and live music venues. The harbour is always busy with tugs, luxury yachts, huge container vessels, and small tourist boats constantly on the move. It makes for a lively and exciting atmosphere.

Near the heart of it all lies the internationally-known and acclaimed uShaka Marine World. This is an aquarium to match any other in the world, housed in a gigantic ship wreck with a snorkel tank and endlessly-thrilling water rides. Guests can marvel at the experience of dining on a gourmet meal in the wreck with a large shark population watching from close by.

A short drive inland takes in the spectacular Valley of a Thousand Hills, with its breath-taking views as far as the eye can see and tantalising introduction to Zulu culture. There are also arts and crafts shops of every kind. Travellers can also go westwards to the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands to find more arts, crafts, food, and culture.

Travellers shouldn’t think of visiting KwaZulu-Natal without taking in the majesty and splendour of the Drakensburg Mountains to enjoy the numerous ‘Berg lodges and chalets and view the ancient San artwork adorning the walls of caves and crevices of one of South Africa’s finest World Heritage Sites.

In and around Durban, there’s everything under the sun, and more.


This is where travellers can find the outstanding World Heritage Site, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, the oldest game park in Africa and South Africa’s supreme Dive Resort. It’s the exuberant heart of the Zulu Kingdom.

Must-Do Attractions: Travellers can have an up-close encounter with hippos from a boat on Lake St. Lucia, catch sight of white rhinos, elephants, and giraffes in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, revel in a day’s snorkelling at Cape Vidal, or venture out on a St. Lucia night safari to see the giant leatherback turtles. There is also scuba diving at Sodwana, one of the world’s top diving sites, recapture the horrors of the Anglo-Zulu battles at Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, or sip on some traditional homemade Zulu beer at a cultural kraal-village.

For superb coastal resources, send your clients to Zululand, home to Great St. Lucia (iSimangaliso) Wetland Park, Hluluwe-iMofolozi Park, and rich Anglo-Zulu history. The iSimangaliso Wetland Park is the country’s third-largest wildlife sanctuary and a magnificent World Heritage Site. It’s internationally-renowned a boasts a spectacular coastline, the second-highest vegetated sea-dunes on earth, and large groups of hippos, crocodiles, and elephants. With its numerous environment and no fewer than 367 species of birds, the park is a remarkable feast for the senses.

Anglo-Boer War battlefields

Another major draw for the Zululand region is the opportunity to see the Big Five in the vast Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park. As the home of Operation Rhino in the 1950s and 1960s, the park became world-renowned for its white rhino conservation efforts. The park’s Rhino Capture Unit can take credit for helping to save the endangered white rhino from the brink of extinction. The park is also home to 86 species including hippos, cheetahs, spotted hyenas, and the blue wildebeest. It’s also a prime birding destination, boast 340 different bird species.

In the past few years, the town of St. Lucia has developed into a centre of action and adventure. Visitors set out to sea to watch the dolphins at play, brave the surf with jet boats, and go snorkelling, scuba diving, horseback riding, and quad biking. Nearby, travellers will also find the sub-continent’s only breeding ground for giant leatherback turtles, which can be seen at night. There’s more than enough on offer for everyone at this lively coastal resort.

Could anything be more romantic than a walk on pristine beaches, flanked by some of the world’s most-beautiful dune forests on the one hand, and the deepest aquamarine ocean on the other? We don’t think so. Your clients will be enraptured by the tranquil loveliness of the Zululand coastline.

Lunch onboard the Rovos

Part of what the underwater mecca of Sodwana Beach so appealing is the solitude and serenity of the ocean. Scuba divers glide among the teeming fish life in the warm waters of the coral reefs. Even the shipwrecks add their quaint appeal to this spectacular destination. The abundance and colours of the marine life have to be seen to be believed.

Your clients can explore the main highlights of Durban and its surroundings or embark on a train journey with Rovos Rail. There are endless reasons to make KwaZulu-Natal their next South African destination.

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Kirsty Perring

Africa Experts Product Manager – Although British born and now Toronto based, Kirsty grew up in South Africa and is completely passionate about all things Africa. She finds it hard to choose a favourite destination, but lists Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, and Botswana as some of the most special places she has visited, and feels it’s not just about where you go and what you see, but who you get to experience it with. Kirsty is always up for an adventure and will try anything once. As such, she has para-glided in South Africa, zip lined in Mauritius, dived the Red Sea, hot air ballooned in Egypt, and even swam in the Okavango Delta. Next on Kirsty’s bucket list is to climb Kilimanjaro!

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