KwaZulu-Natal is the home of the powerful Zulu nation. The province’s largest city, Durban, has an easy-going atmosphere, a famously mild subtropical climate and a large Indian population, whose cuisine and culture have left an indelible stamp on the city. A short drive north is the town of Umhlanga, with its luxury hotels and guesthouses, long sandy beaches and cosmopolitan village centre. From here the highway links seaside towns in rapid succession, passing by lush subtropical vegetation and vast sugar-cane plantations.
Northern KwaZulu-Natal, also known as Maputaland or the Elephant Coast, is home to the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, the largest protected wetland in southern Africa; several Big Five game reserves; Sodwana Bay, where you can dive with ragged-tooth sharks; and Aliwal Shoal, the world-famous diving destination.
Situated between the coast and the foothills of the magnificent Drakensberg lies the Midlands, with its famous Midlands Meander – a rural route that takes you through villages and hamlets and into the studios of crafters and artists.
The Drakensberg Mountains are truly spectacular. Whether you visit for a taste of the culture and history of the people who once lived and fought in dramatic battles here, for bracing hikes and mountain walks or simply to enjoy mountain air, there is no shortage of impressive and memorable vistas.
Highlights and suggested day tours during any trip to KwaZulu-Natal include:
- Valley of a Thousand Hills
- Discover the eclectic Midlands Meander
- The historic battlefields of Rorke’s Drift and Isandlwana
- Enjoy a full day excursion to the historic Hluhluwe Game Reserve
- Take in a full day Zulu experience at Shakaland
- Explore the Drakensberg, a 200-kilometre-long mountainous wonderland and world heritage site
Phinda Game Reserve
Located on a protected wildlife area in KwaZulu-Natal, Phinda Game Reserve is home to the Big 5 as well as 1000 hectares of Africa’s rare sand forest. The reserve is also located close to the ocean and therefore guests are spoilt for choice between the bush and incredible coral reef. There are six lodges within the andBeyond Phinda Game Reserve: Mountain Lodge, Rock Lodge, Forest Lodge, Vlei Lodge,
Zuka Lodge, and Phinda Homestead. Each lodge catering to the different needs of its guests and satisfying each one of them.
Well known in Durban, Umhlanga, Beverly Hills has a fantastic reputation. Each room has its own balcony, over-looking the Indian Ocean, along with a separate dressing room and lounge. The Sugar Club, rated as one of the best restaurants in the country, offers a romantic atmosphere with views of the ocean. During the day guests can relax by the pool or go to the beach. Guests can also go micro lighting, dolphin viewing and scuba diving, shopping at Gateway Theatre of Shopping or playing golf at one of the most prestigious golf courses in the country
Fairmont Zimbali Lodge
Dolphin Coast, KwaZulu-Natal
Situated on KwaZulu-Natals Dolphin Coast, Fairmont Zimbali Lodge is a luxury destination where a personalised service is to be expected. This five-star lodge, offers 76 elegant rooms and suites, an 18-hole championship golf course and a variety of culinary offerings as well access to the endless beaches where you can relax and enjoy the clear skies.
Fairmont Zimbali Resort
Fairmont Zimbali Resort is the premier destination in the KwaZulu-Natal province and offers tranquillity, stylish comfort and an unrivalled service. Offering 154 luxury guest rooms and suites each with views of the warm Indian Ocean, nine different exquisite food and beverage experiences and the renowned Willow Stream Spa, Fairmont Zimbali Resort is the ideal family destination.
Nambiti Hills Private Game Lodge
Nambiti Hills Private Game Lodge provides a romantic setting in the beautiful and geographically diverse KwaZulu-Natal province. Home to the Big 5, cheetah and an abundance of birdlife and indigenous flora, Nambiti Hills Private Game Lodge offers intimate and luxurious accommodation with spectacular panoramic views.
Carved into the rock of the KwaZulu-Natal battlefields
An ideal luxury base from which to explore the famous KwaZulu-Natal battlefields, Isandlwana Lodge is carved into rock and offers superlative views over the plains and mountains of the region. Visitors will spend their days horse riding, walking, birding or on historical and cultural tours and evenings indulging in delicious meals and fine wines. Simply luxurious, this upmarket lodge offers a fantastic vacation experience.
Thonga Beach Lodge
Mabibi Nature Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal North Coast
Thonga beach lodge is the ideal place to explore the unspoilt wilderness beaches along the pristine coast of Maputaland, northern KwaZulu-Natal. Located in the Isimangaliso World Heritage Park and set above a private, sandy beach, each of the 12 air-conditioned suites has been carefully constructed to ensure minimal impact on the environment and maximum comfort. Enjoy mouth-watering cuisine, romantic candlelit dinners and relaxing Sea Spa treatments. The professional lodge diving team accommodates all enthusiasts and the scuba-diving is phenomenal, with reefs that are home to 1 250 fish species located a short distance from the lodge.
Thanda Private Game Reserve
Thanda Private Game Reserve, near Hluhluwe
The award-winning Thanda Private Game Reserve is situated just north of Hluhluwe in northern Zululand and is set on an 8 000-hectare, malaria-free game reserve that features the Big Five. Thanda, meaning ‘love’ in Zulu, unites romantic decadence and exclusivity with Zulu culture and wildlife. The nine bush villas at the main lodge have private infinity pools, viewing decks and private salas and the private bush villa can accommodate 10 people. The tented camp is built in colonial-safari style, giving an authentic yet luxurious bush experience. The luxury tents have viewing decks and en-suite canvas bathrooms.
The Oyster Box
Originally opened in 1954, the refurbished Oyster Box Hotel is one of Africa’s best-loved and most distinguished hotels, with an abundance of colonial charm to match a breath-taking seaside setting. The stylish decor is an elegant combination of natural stones and woods, complemented by soothing, light colours that reflect the different shades of the surrounding ocean and tropical vegetation. The upgrade of the gracious establishment includes a collection of paintings by local artists that capture the vibrant culture of the Zulu people.