KwaZulu-Natal – 6 Reasons to Visit

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Posted on: February 3, 2023

KwaZulu-Natal (or KZN as the locals call it) is a popular holiday destination in South Africa for many reasons. It offers a range of landscapes, from beaches to mountains and forests, and is known for its rich cultural heritage. This unique and wild province is full of wonder, from wildlife safaris to historical sites, outdoor activities, adventure sports, and more. The climate is mild and sunny most of the year, making it an ideal destination for those seeking a warm getaway. Visitors can also enjoy a range of delicious food, a vibrant cultural history, and excellent accommodation options. 

Read on to find out why you should visit KwaZulu-Natal:

Drakensberg – KwaZulu-Natal (Image: Viatu Blog)

1. Incredible Nature

Drakensberg Mountains – KwaZulu-Natal (Image: Viatu Blog)

KZN is home to some of South Africa’s most spectacular landscapes and some of its most untouched wilderness. From rolling hills and lush forests to stunning beaches and estuaries, there’s something for everyone to appreciate in this beautiful region. The province also boasts year-round warm weather, except for sections of the Drakensberg, where the chilly temperatures amid the high peaks can be a welcome relief on a lengthy hike. Here are some of the highlights to explore on your next visit there:

  • Drakensberg Mountains: The Drakensberg Mountains are a superb range of jagged peaks, rolling hills and grassy valleys. The Drakensberg is South Africa’s highest mountain range and is home to the world’s second-highest waterfall and some of the most breathtaking scenery in the country. It also boasts plenty of national parks, offering world-class hiking trails.
  • Zululand: Zululand is an area in the KwaZulu-Natal province known for its rich cultural heritage. It is home to many traditional villages, wildlife reserves, and lush tropical forests. This area’s wildlife includes the famous Big 5: lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo and rhinoceros. 
  • Wild Coast: The isolated Wild Coast is a stunning coastline of rugged cliffs and rocky coves backed by rolling hills and grasslands. It is an ideal spot for whale watching, swimming and scuba diving.
  • Valley of a Thousand Hills: The Valley of a Thousand Hills is located north of KZN and is known for its stunning vistas, lush green valleys, and dramatic gorges. It is a popular destination for hiking and mountain biking and is home to several historical sites. 
  • The Midlands: The Midlands is an area known for its green hills, sweeping valleys and lush vegetation. The area is popular for its hiking trails, horseback riding, quaint cafés, and mountain biking.
  • Beautiful Beaches: KwaZulu-Natal’s stunning beaches are a significant draw for visitors. With miles of golden sand and warm waters, this region offers some of the best beach experiences in South Africa. These include outstanding snorkelling and diving in Sodwana and Kosi Bay, fantastic surf spots on the Dolphin Coast, and excellent swimming areas.

2. Exciting Wildlife

Southern White Rhino

Another really special element of this lush province is just how much wildlife it is home to, including the Big 5. Nature lovers certainly won’t be disappointed, whether it’s a game drive in one of its many national parks or a boat ride on the St Lucia Estuary. KwaZulu-Natal is home to some of the country’s most impressive wildlife reserves and national parks, from the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park to the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, there are plenty of opportunities to spot South Africa’s unique wildlife. KZN is also generally considered a true haven for rhinos. This is particularly the case in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park and its surroundings. In the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, guests can encounter elephants and rhinos on their way to the beach and witness giant leatherback turtles laying their eggs on white sandy shores or even baby ones hatching! KZN is also home to many endemic wildlife species, including the bearded vultures in the Drakensberg, the gaboon adder and the Samango monkey. With so much incredible flora and fauna, it’s unsurprising that KZN is a conservation hotspot with a milieu of projects and initiatives spread across the country tackling everything from single-use plastic to anti-poaching.

3. Adventure Activities in KwaZulu-Natal

Hiking in the Drakensberg (Images: Viatu Blog)

Adventurers take note! KZN has plenty of exciting activities on offer from canoeing, kayaking, abseiling, and plenty more thrilling opportunities. Here are some of our top picks:

  •  Hiking: Enjoy a guided or solo hike in the Drakensberg Mountains and take in the breathtaking views while traversing 1 (or more) of 83 trails in this majestic mountain range.
  • Whale Watching: Take a boat ride to explore the cerulean Indian Ocean and catch a glimpse of majestic whales as they migrate along the coast. 
  • Safari Excitement: Go on a game drive in one of the region’s many game reserves and get the chance to spot the Big 5. 
  • Scuba Diving: Discover the underwater world of the Indian Ocean with a scuba diving adventure in warm tropical waters. Sodwana Bay is rated one of the top dive sites in the world!

4. Rich Cultural Heritage of KwaZulu-Natal

Traditional Zulu dancers in KwaZulu-Natal
Traditional Zulu Dancers (Images: Viatu Blog)

KwaZulu-Natal is home to various cultures, with traditional Zulu, Indian, and colonial influences playing a part in the province’s rich heritage. This diverse province is also the seat of the Zulu Kingdom, the largest ethnic group in South Africa. This vibrant culture is still alive today, as seen in the traditional songs, dances and crafts still practised in the region. Famous historical figures such as Shaka Zulu, Dingane Dingane ka Senzangakhona and Queen Monase exemplify this mighty nation.

5. Foodie Paradise

(Images: Viatu Blog)

KwaZulu-Natal’s culinary offerings are as diverse as the region’s cultural influences. From traditional Zulu dishes to Indian curries and more, the province offers a range of delicious food experiences unique to this region. It also boasts incredible access to a wide range of organic and sustainably sourced produce.

6. Unforgettable Stays

Deluxe Ocean View Room at Thonga Beach Lodge, located within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal
Thonga Beach Lodge

Since the numerous eco-lodges in KZN deserve their own show, we’ve written a whole separate blog post that you can find here. However, read below to get a sneak peek of some of our favourite sustainable stays:

Pool deck of Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge overlooking the hills of the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park in KwaZulu Natal
Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge
Outdoor dining area of Thonga Beach Lodge situated within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal
Thonga Beach Lodge
Outdoor bathroom Boma of Kosi Forest Lodge, situated within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal
Kosi Forest Lodge

Original blog by Courtney Drysdale | Viatu | images from Viatu Blog


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