Thanks to its sub-tropical climate with moderate winters, the coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal is known as South Africa’s playground, where all manner of outdoor activity is enjoyed virtually year-round.
It is also home to two of South Africa’s eight Unesco World Heritage Sites: iSimangaliso Wetland Park on the north coast and the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park mountain range to the west.
KwaZulu-Natal, home to 10.3-million residents, is a mix of colonial, Indian and Zulu culture. Explore each by shopping for traditional attire or fabric, touring cultural villages and townships, visiting local temples, sampling the cuisine, or by attending local markets.
The province has a coastline that meets the warm Indian Ocean and runs from Port Edward in the south past Margate, Scottburgh, Umkomaas, Durban, Umhlanga, Ballito, the Elephant Coast and iSimangaliso Wetland Park to Kosi Bay, nearly 300km to the north. It’s along this coastline that the annual winter migration of millions of sardines (fish) takes place in a natural phenomenon known as the Sardine Run.
Two hours inland of Durban – one of Africa’s busiest ports – lies the Midlands, an idyllic countryside dotted with country lodges, B&Bs, farms and the Midlands Meander, a network of 120 artisanal food and craft outlets. The Midlands also has historical value for the number of significant battles – including Rourke’s Drift and Isandlwana – fought during the late 1800s between Boer, Brit and Zulu.
KwaZulu-Natal is home to larger game reserves such as Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park and Phinda Private Game Reserve where the Big Five may be seen, along with a choice of more intimate, upmarket boutique reserves. Hundreds of bird species endemic to the region are best enjoyed on eight sub-routes of the two major designated regions: the Southern KwaZulu-Natal Birding Route and Zululand Birding Route.
Fly in via King Shaka International Airport, which lies 35km north of the city of Durban and links the province to Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Mango operates regular daily flights from South Africa’s major centres to Durban, and also offers fly-and-drive options. Visit www.flymango.com for more information.