The April school holidays are around the corner. This is an ideal time to take a breather from your daily slog and enjoy a fun-filled autumn holiday in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), where it’s easy to make lasting memories.
Autumn is the best time of the year in KwaZulu-Natal. The bright sunny days are cooler and less muggy, the rainy season is easing up and the cool evenings are ideal for alfresco dining, braaiing, sitting around a campfire or taking that night safari you have on your bucket list, according to Pinky Radebe Senior Manager PR and Communications, TKZN.
With seven distinct tourism nodes each offering a unique experience, KwaZulu-Natal is an incredibly diverse province where everyone from nature lovers to history buffs, the young and the senior can relish a memorable holiday.
So, rally your family and friends and plan a mid-week break or a long weekend to take in the wonders of KwaZulu-Natal – and don’t forget to post plenty of pictures so everyone can share the excitement.
Surf, sand and shisanyama
When last did you build a sandcastle whether in the air or on the beach? With 600km of coastline, from Sodwana Bay in the far north to Port Edward in the far south, and magnificent bright sunny weather KwaZulu-Natal holiday makers have plenty of options in which to frolic in the waves and play in the sand.
If you’re looking for a little adventure, snorkelling at Sodwana Bay or at some of the wrecks dotted along the East Coast will reveal a marine world populated by stingrays, octopus, butterfly and sturgeon fish, tiger and ragged tooth sharks and even passing whales. Alternatively try some real marine adventure shark diving – either in the safety of a cage at uShaka Marine World or out at sea on the South Coast, or, for more experienced divers, scuba diving alongside these formidable predators.
When the fresh sea air brings on the munchies and you haven’t packed a picnic there are plenty of eateries including the local shisanyama to satisfy the whole family.
North and South coast magnificent beach walks and rock pools
Although the obvious destination in KwaZulu-Natal might seem to be the coast, not every visit has to be the traditional beach towel and suntan lotion type experience. Dotted along the KwaZulu-Natal Coast are some really special marine protected areas and even historical sites, not to mention a world heritage site in the form of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
If you’re not into snorkelling or deep-sea diving, you can enjoy walking along some of the magnificent beaches with their rock pools and expanses of white sand and myriad of shells to collect. Peek at the massive Nile crocodiles catching some sun at the mouth of the St Lucia estuary or make your way through the exotic dune forests along a plethora of wooden walkways.
Along the South Coast you can enjoy six blue flag beaches – Marina, Trafalgar, Southport, Umzumbe, Ramsgate and Hibberdene while the north coast three blue flag beaches – Thompson’s Bay, Willard and Blythedale.
Visit hidden treasures.
If you’re heading South, take a guided tour through the fossil filled Petrified Forest or visit one of the world’s smallest desserts. Alternatively, grab an old-style map and try to find all the wonderful olde worlde light houses along the KwaZulu-Natal coast. With a little extra planning, you could even organise a trip to the Whaling Station on Durban’s Bluff, now with heritage site status as a tribute to growing whale conservation.
Take a glamping safari
KwaZulu-Natal is also one of the provinces with one of the greatest safari and wildlife offerings. There’s a huge variety of experiences on offer – from camping at Mpila in the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Park to pitching your tents at Cape Vidal, Zululand’s Bonamanzi or even the Tala Private Reserve near Pietermaritzburg.
Mkuze, with its wonderful fever tree forest as well as Bonamanzi are great alternatives to the bigger parks with savannah grasslands, dense sand forests, mangroves and wetlands and majestic fever trees.
With a slightly bigger budget, you can try glamping – larger safari tents with the comforts of a four or even a five-star hotel and bush style meals to match. The Tembe Elephant Park is a great location with the added bonus of meeting up with some of the province’s big tuskers.
A stop off at Springbok Lodge at Nambiti, just outside Ladysmith is another great glamping opportunity with regular game drives into the big five reserve. A quick google and you’ll be amazed by the wide range of glamping opportunities that extend from the Pongola Game Reserve and Hluhluwe Bush camp Glamping village through to beautiful lakeside and mountainside spots in the Drakensberg.
Take game drives in the early morning and at sunset when the animals gather to a drink at local waterholes. Add a little spice to the game drive with a stop off in the bush for a sunrise breakfast or sundowners.
Sample some of KwaZulu-Natal’s best cuisine
Last but not least, says Radebe, don’t let your holiday end without sampling some of KwaZlu-Natal’s best cuisine and the famous Bunny chow.
If its haute cuisine you want try the likes of Cleopatra’s Guest House, Hartford House or the Jackie Cameron School of Food and Wine in Hilton or even the 9th Avenue bistro and Havanna Grill in Durban. Explore Umhlanga and Florida Road for the very best gastronomy.
Looking for something a little out of the ordinary? Pull in at Surfriders Café on the Durban Promenade or enjoy high tea on the veranda at the Oyster Box Hotel. If you’re south, head to the iconic waffle house for a never-to-forget treat or go inland to the Fables Eatery where the ingredients for the delicious dishes are sourced from their beautiful Midlands Garden. Looking for a sweet treat then head to the Midlands and Florentines Brussels Waffles and Belgian Chocolates made on the premises, for real chocolate decadence.
With so much to do, KwaZulu-Natal is the province that has it all, so do something different this holiday and make lasting memories.