Kingdom of the Zulu
Throw in the wildlife – the Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino) and rare marine species – the historic intrigue of the Battlefields, fabulous hiking opportunities, and the sand, sea and surf of coastal resort towns, and you get a tantalising taste of local heritage and authentic African highlights that should be on every ‘must-do’ list.
The region is most visited for its many traditional Zulu villages or 'living museums', where you can learn about Zulu history, local cuisine and the legendary King Shaka. There are also many lovely, eccentric small villages such as Eshowe which has a canopy boardwalk through the Dlinza Forest and the excellent art and craft centre at Fort Nonqayi. In the little coastal town of Mtunzini, wander through one of the last remaining protected stands of Raffia palms and possibly spot a rare palm nut vulture.
Where to Stay
Umfolozi Hotel, Casino & Convention Resort
This vibrant Zulu themed resort in Empangeni, provides a convenient stop-over en-route through Zululand between Durban and popular tourist destinations like St Lucia, Hluhluwe, Sodwana and Kosi Bay.
Elegant beehive huts with thatched roofs and African decor feature en-suite bathrooms, satellite TV, tea and coffeemaking equipment, and lounge areas with desks. A living monument to traditional Zulu culture where visitors from all over the world come to experience Zulu culture. Enjoy the Shisa Nyama restaurant with its authentic setting. Shakaland’s restaurant offers traditional Zulu dishes.
Fugitives Lodge & Guest House
Both offer a high standard of fully catered, en-suite accommodation and are 600m apart. Guests, whether staying at The Lodge, The Guest House or Umzinyathi House experience the same tours with the same guide or lecturer.
The Lodge offers spacious, luxury en-suite cottages each have a private verandah affording views over the plains flanking the Buffalo River Gorge.
Guest House Rooms have large, en-suite bedrooms that are individually decorated and all have private verandahs with sweeping views of the reserve and surrounding battlefields.The Guest House boasts a sparkling pool that overlooks Isandlwana and the indigenous bushveld.
Three Tree Hill Lodge
Bordering the Spioenkop Game Reserve, this refined lodge is located at the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains. The 6 bright, colonial-style rooms feature private decks, ceiling fans and tea and coffeemaking facilities. A 2-bedroom family suite adds a fireplace and a kids' play area. There's also a private 2-bedroom cottage with a kitchen and a lounge area. The lodge offers Battlefield tours, although not daily.
Nambiti Hills Game Lodge
For the discerning traveller, a unique experience with exceptional personal service. The lodge offers family getaways, private conferences and Anglo-Boer war battlefield tours. It features luxury suites with panoramic views of the natural surroundings, with a swimming pool, spa facilities, game drives and walking safaris.
Located in the Nambiti Game Reserve, epitomises the perfect safari experience with beautifully appointed tented suites, service excellence, superb cuisine and prolific wildlife - ensuring an unforgettable experience. Nestled in the heart of the KwaZulu-Natal battlefields, the lodge offers guests a chance to unwind in a picture-perfect setting.
Elephant Coast (Maputaland)
The Elephant Coast borders Mozambique in the north, Swaziland and the Lubombo Mountains in the north west, the Indian Ocean to the east and ends roughly at the mouth of the Imfolozi River near St Lucia village in the south.
The region is a paradise of natural wonders with an incredible 21 different ecosystems. In fact, there are few areas in Africa with such an incredible diversity of fresh water ecosystems. It is largely due to this, and the incredible sense of place, that a large portion of the Elephant Coast was declared a World Heritage Site, and named iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
Where to Stay
White Elephant Safari Lodge & Bush Camp
At the foot of the majestic Lebombo mountains and the shimmering waters of Lake Jozini, in the Malaria-free Pongola Game Reserve, which hosts four of the Big-5 species. The Safari Lodge offers a quintessential ‘Out of Africa’ experience in Luxury tented accommodation, whilst the Bush Camp provides an authentic ‘back to nature’ experience with the emphasis on simplicity and genuine hospitality in comfortable chalets.
Rhino River Lodge
A family-owned and operated Big-5 safari lodge located in the magnificent Manyoni Private Game Reserve, with a reputation for excellent customer service and superior value for money. Enjoy hearty South African cuisine highlighting local ingredients, served under the stars around a campfire. Indulge in a comfortable night’s sleep in one of the well-appointed rooms, chalets or private safari homes.
Falaza Game Park & Spa
Offers Luxury Tented accommodation and an array of authentic bush experiences in a lush indigenous setting. Neighbouring the World Heritage Site of St Lucia, Falaza is near the renowned Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve (boasting the African ‘Big Five’), the fascinating corals and dive sights of Sodwana Bay, with endless activities and excursion opportunities within a close radius.
DamaZulu Lodge & Traditional Village
Set within a village-style living museum, this laid-back lodge is close to Lake St. Lucia. Airy, warmly decorated rooms in colourful, round thatched huts feature tile floors and wood furniture. All have daybeds, flat-screen TVs, dressing areas, desks, and tea and coffeemaking equipment. Studios add kitchenettes and dining areas.
Mkuze Falls Private Game Reserve
The luxe all-inclusive riverside lodge offers posh air-conditioned tent-style rooms, with minibars, mosquito nets, decks with scenic views, and en-suite bathrooms with free-standing tubs. The 9 plush, TV-free chalets and 1 suite add private plunge pools and open-air showers. An upgraded suite in a secluded setting offers a kitchen. Game drives and bush walks are included.
Ghost Mountain Inn
Close to the Ubombo Mountain Nature Reserve, the hotel offers elegant rooms with flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, minibars and private patios. Upgraded quarters add sofabeds. Suites provide living rooms, free-standing tubs and outdoor showers. Game drives, boat tours, kids' activities and nature walks are also available.
Thanda Safari Lodge
Experience the ultimate in luxury in one of the bush suites or embrace nature at the authentic safari-style tented camp. Thanda’s public areas include a library, business centre, cigar bar, wine cellar and spa area, ensuring you hours of entertainment and pleasure.
&Beyond Phinda Mountain Lodge
Features 25 air-conditioned luxurious suites each with a sitting area, personal bar and private veranda complete with plunge pool and romantic al fresco shower. A fold-out sleeper sofa in each suite can accommodate a triple. A family suite with four bedrooms and a shared sitting area is also available for guests.
&Beyond Phinda Rock Lodge
6 Exceptional suites, perched on the side of a rocky cliff has a private sitting area, personal bar, plunge pool and deck from where magnificent views of the spectacular Leopard Rock and the valley below can be admired.
&Beyond Phinda Forest Lodge
The luxurious 16 air-conditioned glass suites are on stilts and appear to float between the rare Sand Forest floor and the high Torchwood trees, designed for complete privacy. The suites offer a personal bar on their private veranda.
&Beyond Phinda Zuka Lodge
The beautiful sole-use villa, for groups of up to 8 guests and features only four thatched Zululand bush cottages, with verandas overlooking a busy waterhole. Sitting areas offer comfortable built-in sofas which double as beds for parents travelling with children five years and younger.
&Beyond Phinda Vlei Lodge
An intimate romantic, private safari destination. Overlooking the Reserve’s unique vlei (wetland) system on the edge of the sand forest, its location offers ever changing game viewing from the comfort of your bed, your shower or your private plunge pool.
&Beyond Phinda Homestead (Opening September 2018)
An exclusive, sole-use villa, ideal for families and small groups. The four spacious suites accommodate 8 guests.
Makakatana Bay Lodge
Overlooking Lake St. Lucia, this high-end safari lodge is close to Hluhluwe. The 6 upscale, airy suites offer private game-viewing decks. All come with soaking baths, outdoor showers, minibars, and tea and coffeemaking facilities. Other amenities include an outdoor pool, a TV lounge, a bar and a terrace, plus an enclosure with a fire pit. Game drives are available.
St Lucia Wetlands Guest House
This guesthouse offers leisure activities in tranquil surroundings. It features an outdoor swimming pool and free Wi-Fi in the public areas. Air-conditioned rooms have a seating area and tea and coffee making facilities. The Umfolozi Game Reserve is an hour away by car.
The Midlands Meander in the heart of KwaZulu-Natal, is a collection of arranged routes that offer visitors hospitality in truly beautiful surroundings, outstanding accommodation, conference facilities, fascinating local events, fabulous cuisine and restaurants, revitalising outdoor activities and over-the-top adventure sports, historic landmarks, wildlife conservation, and best of all "shop-till-you-drop" unique arts and crafts. With an easy one-hour drive from Durban there is much to explore and do in the Midlands. And once you have finished Meandering there is easy access to the KwaZulu-Natal battlefields, the Drakensberg, the coast and the game reserves up the Dolphin Coast.
Where to Stay
Set on a former dairy farm, this refined hotel is close to the Karkloof Nature Reserve. The individually decorated rooms feature heated floors, TVs and DVD players, as well as tea and coffeemaking facilities. Upgraded rooms have private patios. Suites add sitting areas, fireplaces and mountain views. There's a fine-dining bistro, full-service spa, an indoor pool and a fitness centre, as well as a sauna and a steam room available to guests.
Includes the famous Amphitheatre, one of the most prominent features of the Dragon Mountains and certainly one of the most impressive in the world. This sheer cliff face, which forms part of the Royal Natal National Park, is probably the most photographed portion of the 'berg. A series of challenging hikes include the Inner Tower and Devils Tooth, and the Tugela Falls Gorge Walk, a relatively flat walk, is very popular.
Where to Stay
Alpine Heath Resort
Set in a mountain holiday village, this upscale resort is close to the Royal Natal National Park.
Featuring mountain views, the cosy, 3-bedroom alpine chalets come with satellite TV, lounges and fireplaces, along with patios, kitchens and dining areas. Amenities include a polished restaurant, a coffee shop and a pizzeria. There's also a tavern serving light bites, as well as open BBQ areas and a market. Also on site are a kids' club, mini-golf and tennis courts, in addition to outdoor pools and a health spa. Horseback riding is available.
With a short walk to the Tugela Falls, this casual hotel with views of the Drakensburg Mountains is not far from the Royal Natal National Park. Rooms offer free Wi-Fi, TVs, and tea and coffeemaking facilities. Chic upgraded quarters add 42-inch flat-screen TVs; some also have lounges. Airy 2-bedroom chalets provide lounge/dining areas and BBQ grills. A buffet restaurant features a wood-burning fireplace, and there's also a pub with a mountain-view terrace. Other amenities include a fireside lounge, an outdoor pool, a game room and mini-golf, plus tennis courts and mountain bike trails.
The Central Berg offers a range of activities and eco-tourist attractions. With winter snow-capped peaks, waterfalls, rock art, fauna, and flora, every holiday is a wonderland experience filled with relentless scenic beauty. The area consists of the Mlambonja Wilderness Area, including Cathedral Peak, the Mdedelo Wilderness Area including Cathkin Peak and Champagne Castle as well as Monk's Cowl, which presents one of the most difficult climbs in the Berg. It also includes Injisuthi, Giant's Castle, Highmoor, Kamberg, and the Mkhomazi Wilderness Area. Some of the highest and most spectacular peaks can be found here.
Where to Stay
Antbear Retreat and Lodge
The unique, luxury cave unit is built under a rock with glass doors that open on to a deck with hammock chairs and uninterrupted panoramic views of the Drakensberg Mountains. The cave is cosy and comfortable and has features like a rocked in Jacuzzi spa bath in the bedroom and an adjoining lounge with open fireplace. This is an upmarket Eco experience.
The mountain view suites are the more generous units and include bathrooms with Jacuzzi spa baths, fireplaces and own private lounges.
The garden view suites are the slightly smaller units and have their own private garden. They also have a covered verandah with chairs to relax.
Ardmore Guest Farm
Set in the Champagne Valley and surrounded by mountains, this down-to-earth, family-run guesthouse on a timber farm is close to Falcon Ridge - Bird of Prey Centre.
Rustic studio to 3-bedroom cottages and chalets offer free Wi-Fi (no TVs), fireplaces and whirlpool tubs, as well as minifridges, tea and coffeemakers, and verandahs or covered porches. All have mountain or garden views.
Champagne Castle Hotel
Set in gardens with mountain views, this upscale resort hotel is adjacent to the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg World Heritage Site and close to Champagne Sports Resort. There are mountain or garden views rooms, and come with TVs, and tea and coffeemaking equipment. Some have patios, while suites add kitchens, fireplaces, whirlpool tubs and BBQs. Mountain-facing chalets with kitchens add separate living areas.
Cathedral Peak Hotel
Dating back to 1939 and bordering Maloti-Drakensberg Park, this picturesque, mountain resort hotel is close to Winterton. Rooms and suites come with TVs, patios, and tea and coffeemaking facilities. Upgraded quarters add heated floors, thatched ceilings, whirlpool baths and/or fireplaces.
There are 3 bars, a game room, outdoor pools and a tennis court, as well as a 9-hole golf course and mini-golf. Hikes, bikes, horse riding and fly-fishing are available.
The Maloti Drakensberg Park, a World Heritage Site, should be a part of every journey to South Africa. The Southern Drakensberg is big and beautiful and offers an enormous diversity of attractions and activities. Enjoy mountain biking, horse riding, trout fishing and much more! Explore a wealth of San Rock Art, as well as the local arts and crafts. You won’t find better countryside anywhere!
Where to Stay
Drakensberg Gardens Golf & Spa Resort
This estate is surrounded by the Mkhomazi Wilderness area. The understated rooms have colourful accents, and come with satellite TV, and tea and coffeemaking equipment. Upgraded rooms add minifridges, whiles suite offer sitting areas, and decks with sun loungers. Cottages sleep up to 6 people, and provide living rooms, kitchens, and decks with BBQ grills.
Sani Pass Underberg
Sani Pass is the mother of all South African mountain passes. Statistically and in every sense, it out distances, out climbs and out performs all its competitors with consummate ease to have become the most iconic gravel pass in SA. Situated between KZN and Lesotho the pass was built circa 1950 and remains a challenging drive in 4x4 vehicles with all the drama, scenery, bad weather and treacherous conditions expected of a pass with a summit altitude of 2876m ASL. Go prepared for bad weather at any time and expect snowfalls as late as October.
Sunshine, sea, and sand… the classic summer holiday trio, only here you get it all year round. The subtropical coastline follows the Indian Ocean from just north of Durban all the way up to Richard's Bay. Come here for swimming, diving, dolphins, surf and turtles. Smaller coastal roads, lead to charming seaside villages, where families can enjoy many outdoor activities. A large Indian community settled here long ago, bringing spice markets and tasty Indian cuisine.
Umhlanga, with its red and white lighthouse and lovely stretch of sand, has long been a favourite resort among locals and international visitors. Due to this favoured status, it has a proliferation of high-rise luxury apartment blocks, luxury hotels and a roaring social life for most of the year.
Where to Stay
Situated in Umdloti, offers air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi, refrigerator, movies-on-demand and tea and coffee making facilities. It also provides outdoor tennis courts, an outdoor pool and a kid’s club. The resort has a golf course and offers a variety of outdoor activities, including windsurfing, fishing and scuba diving, meaning all family members will have an enjoyable stay.
Overlooking the beach, this upscale colonial-style hotel is in Umhlanga, just north of Durban.
Elegant, antiques-filled rooms feature private balconies (many with sea views), flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi, plus tea and coffeemaking facilities and fresh fruit and flowers. Suites add separate lounges; some have private plunge pools. Dining options include haute cuisine and high tea, plus bars and plenty of seafood. There’s a spa with a hammam, a 24-hour gym and an oceanfront outdoor pool beside Umhlanga Lighthouse, as well as a 24-seat cinema and a kids' activity programme.
Royal Palm Hotel
Opposite the Gateway Theatre of Shopping, this upscale apartment hotel is in Umhlanga. Studios to 3-bedroom apartments and penthouses are stylish and have full kitchens, relaxed lounges and balconies, plus Internet and flat-screen TVs, as well as air-conditioning. Airy penthouses overlook the city.
aha The Square Boutique Hotel & Spa
Situated in Umhlanga Ridge, close to King Shaka Airport. It offers a spa, a sauna and an outdoor swimming pool, with individually-designed rooms with air conditioning, a minibar, a tea/coffee maker and a private bathroom. Close to beaches, casinos and restaurants.
Situated in Ballito, the guest house has a barbecue and terrace, and guests can enjoy a drink at the bar. Rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV and free Wi-Fi. Certain units have a seating area with sea or pool views. For your comfort, you will find bath robes, free toiletries and a hair dryer.
Durban is about beaches, the promenade, markets and palm trees, with a mix of colonial, Indian and Zulu cultures. The sea is so warm here that surfers go out in boardshorts. Durbs is the main city of KZN and a choice winter destination as the weather and beaches remain outstanding for swimming, surfing and all water sports. Cycle or rollerblade along the beachfront’s Golden Mile promenade, lined with big hotels, pools, and cafes.
Where to Stay
This upscale hotel in a glass-fronted tower is adjacent to the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, close to North Beach. Modern rooms offer Wi-Fi (fee) and flat-screen TVs. Upgraded rooms have sofas; club-level rooms and suites add minifridges and access to a private lounge. Some suites have kitchens and/or balconies. A ritzy lobby offers a coffee lounge, a wine bar and grill with a terrace, plus a gym, an outdoor pool and a business centre. Convention space includes a ballroom.
Auberge Hollandaise Guest House
Situated in a Durban North suburb overlooking the Indian Ocean, this sophisticated guesthouse is close to Beachwood golf course and Suncoast Casino. Refined rooms come with free Wi-Fi, satellite TV and safes, plus tea and coffeemaking facilities. Some have balconies and ocean views.
There's a formal restaurant with a terrace, and afternoon tea is available. Other amenities include an exercise room, a lounge with a fireplace, and an outdoor pool with a waterside bar.
Riverside Hotel & Spa Waterfront
Close to the Umgeni River and Durban Country Club, this modern hotel offers relaxed rooms and suites, with en-suite bathrooms, kitchenettes with microwaves and minifridges, plus TVs and complimentary Wi-Fi, some with river or sea views. A casual restaurant with a poolside lounge serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and offers regular happy hours. There are conference rooms and a business centre, plus an outdoor pool and an adjacent spa.
The long-fingered palm trees and almost constant sunshine of KwaZulu-Natal’s South Coast begin at Amanzimtoti, just south of Durban, and stretch to Port Edward. The safe, sheltered bays are great for swimming with kids. Off the shore of Umkomaas, Aliwal Shoal is one of the best dive sites in the world, attracting amateurs and experts to explore its caves, reefs, tropical fish and ragged tooth sharks. Many beaches adhere to international standards of safety, education and water quality so they have been awarded Blue Flag Status.
Visitors also come to play golf at San Lameer or Selborne Park, hike in nature reserves, see prehistoric rock caves, or take a tour of the hidden lighthouses. Walks on the Hibiscus Coast reveal unusual flowers, shipwrecks and coves. Make your way to the immense Oribi Gorge for waterfalls and views. For extra thrills, choose white water rafting, mountain biking or sway on a suspension bridge across a ravine.
If you visit in June, don’t miss the tremendous spectacle of the Sardine Run. You’ll witness thousands of dolphins, sharks and fur seals, game fish and even possibly a whale or two, all rushing to feed on a shoal of millions of sardines.
Where to Stay
Selborne Hotel, Spa & Golf Estate
This refined resort is close to Pennington beach. Elegant, airy rooms offer en-suite bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, minibars, and tea and coffeemaking equipment, plus balconies or patios. Suites add lounges, dressing areas and garden-view verandas. In addition to the golf course, there's also a spa, an outdoor pool and a game room, as well as tennis courts and nature trails.
Wild Coast Sun
In a lush tropical setting overlooking the Indian Ocean, this upscale oceanfront resort is close to the Umtamvuna Nature Reserve. Rooms offer balconies or patios with ocean or garden views, flat-screen TVs, minibars, soaking tubs and free Wi-Fi. Colourful suites have separate living/dining areas and some with whirlpool tubs. Family rooms are available. There are 9 restaurants and bars, including a steakhouse and casual open-air eateries. Surcharged amenities include a water park, bowling, golf, beach sports and a spa. There's also a casino with 24-hour slots.