KwaZulu was the name given to this area by King Shaka meaning ‘Place of the People of Heaven’ which is an apt name for such a rich, life-filled land. Zululand entices visitors with luscious green hills, busy forests and broad grasslands. If wildlife is what you want to see, Zululand is teeming with numerous eco-systems so whether it be mammals or birds, people are never disappointed with the abundance of wildlife. With multiple parks, farms and reserves you can be guided or wander to seek out wildlife and adventure. A great example is the Zululand Birding Route with over 650 species of bird and 30 local guides; this is the perfect place to start. We’d recommend a guide as they have access to the top 70 birding spots and 14 local routes. If you’d rather explore, then the nearby forest of Dlinza is one of the best places to hike and find local birdlife yourself – not to mention the most beautiful forest in Zululand.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Listed as South Africa’s first World Heritage Site in 1999, iSimangaliso Wetland Park is no less of the epitome of natural beauty today than it was in 1999. The park seems untouched by the modern world and at 332,000 hectares that’s impressive. It’s not all about size, but iSimangaliso is home to 8 different eco-systems, 526 bird species and the majority of South Africa’s remaining swamp forests. We can’t leave out the 25 000 year-old coastal dunes and the 700 year old fishing traditions that take this unique place from being something to see to something to experience. iSimangaliso means miracle and wonder and you are guaranteed to understand why when you visit. Kosi Bay, in the Maputaland area of Kwazulu-Natal, is a series of 4 lakes that are interlinked and form part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. As with the Wetland Park, traditional Tsonga fishing traps are a common sight and dominate parts of the bay. The mouth of the Kosi River is often known as “the aquarium” due to the clarity of its water and the profusion of fish species. This area of South Africa is too good to miss, not only because of its beauty, but the history and culture that is so prevalent even today.
Tembe Elephant Park
Perhaps not a place of outstanding beauty and unrivalled scenery but most definitely a number 1 stop for anyone who wants a backdrop of South African landscape sprinkled with wildlife; specifically the big 5. Expect to come across lions, leopards, buffalo, elephants and rhinos in all their magnificence and come home feeling like you have seen the spirit of Africa. With on-site accommodation varying from lodges overlooking lakes or chalet camps amongst Marula trees -you can savour this vast park for days and nights. If all this sounds like too much hard work then perhaps a few days in Durban to relax on the beach and conduct some retail therapy might be on the cards. With a mixture of Indian and colonial influences on the architecture there is something to take interest in aside from the golden beaches and abundance in food. It’s impossible to see everything and this is only a starting point for your future adventures so there’s no excuse to stop exploring.