Places to Visit in Kwa-Zulu Natal South Africa
So Much to See and Do
Okay, so I am a little biased when it comes to living in South Africa - I can't help it, it's a great place to live. Being the most economically developed country on the African continent has its perks. Add Africa's natural beauty into the mix and you have a great place to live or to visit.
I also believe that Kwa-Zulu Natal is tops when it comes to beauty. There are any number of things to do and so many things to see that you will be completely spoiled for choice. It's not a case of what to see but more a case of what you might miss.
Anyhow, in this Hub I will give visitors tips about what to do and see within the province and also general tips about norms, security, etc. You also get to meet some of the friendly and quirky locals. P.S. If you liked this photo, please take the poll further down the page and let me know how you park your zebra.
I also have a completely unbiased poll about loving the Midlands. It caters for anyone that loves the Midlands - entirely objective, of course.
Have we Seen you Before?
Have you ever visited South Africa?
The Heart of the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands South Africa
How to Interview a Zebra
When interviewing a zebra, be sure to stand in front of him/ her, watch his/ her teeth, be very polite and patient. Zebras do NOT like the "horse in pyjamas" jokes. See my interview with Chris (Zebra in the pic above) further down.
Where to Find Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa
Where to Start
Deciding where to begin can be a bit daunting so let's start with you getting off the plane.
The King Shaka International Airport is just to the North of Durban - the biggest city in KZN and a major seaport.
Most people assume that Durban is the capital of KZN but this honour goes to Pietermaritzburg. (About an hour's drive inland.)
It is advisable to arrange some sort of transport from the airport to your hotel before you leave. There are, of course, car rentals available at the airport but it is best to secure your spot.
It is also advisable to have a map or GPS on hand if you are planning to explore Durban yourself - it can be very confusing for the newcomer. (I lived there and I still get lost.)
In Durban central and the Beach Front, there are a number of buses available at a fairly reasonable price. Ask at your hotel for details - the buses are ideal for those wanting to explore by themselves. The beachfront buses run every 15 minutes or so.
Start at the Durban Botanic Gardens
The Durban Botanical Gardens
The Botanical gardens are lovely and over a century old - the oldest in Africa and are situated in Berea, Durban. There is a wide range of plants to see and the atmosphere is very relaxed and peaceful. There is no entry fee to the garden but car guards are on duty in the parking lot so have some change handy if you drive yourself there. (See the notes about car guards for more info - a standard tip is around R5 - R10 depending on how long you stay.)
The tea garden is open from 9:30 to 16:15 every day.
The orchid house is my favorite spot in the garden - a wide range of beautiful orchids beautifully laid out - and is always popular.
There is also a pretty lake with ducks and ibis - the funniest thing is to see these big birds roosting in the trees.
There are a great number of trees - some of them in place since before the first garden was established in 1849.
Overall, this is a serene and beautiful area in the midst of the hubbub of city life.
(Car guards in SA came about as a response to the number of vehicle thefts and break-ins. You will find them in most public parking areas. Generally speaking, you will be able to identify a car guard as they will have a safety vest or they will be wearing a uniform.)
The Orchid House in the Botanic Gardens
More Pix from the Botanic Gardens
Interview with a Zebra
(It was a slow day news-wise)
Why interview a zebra?Why not – it’s the Midlands, we’re quite quirky folk.
This was a hard-won interview – zebras are notoriously tight-lipped. When I eventually caught up to Chris (zebra in intro pic ) he would only say that he could “park” himself where he chose and that if anyone complained, he’d bite them on the bum. In fact, the reason he took the stance he did was to be in a position to fend off would be drivers. When I asked why he didn’t want anyone driving, he told me it was a protest action on behalf of zebras all over the world. Zebras are sick of being asked if they are striped horses. For the record, they are not. They are also sick of all the horse in pyjama jokes. The interview was cut short by Chris’s agent, a rather pushy Wildebeest when I burst out laughing at the thought of a zebra protest action. But, as the new saying goes – You don’t argue with a zebra’s wildebeest agent or you may get bitten on the bum.
Stop Off at Ushaka Marine World
Visit Ushaka Marine World
This is a definite stop for anyone on a South African holiday to make. It is nicer in warm weather because then you get to experience the water park to its full. For me, this is one of the premier attractions in Durban.
There is tons to do, though, even if the weather is bad - there is a lot of shopping, a few restaurants, a reptile park (Not for the faint of heart) and a great aquarium.
For me, the aquarium is the best part of Ushaka Marine World. The whole thing is set up in an old ship. Inside most of the fittings are upside down and, with the lighting, it is easy to imagine that you are on the bottom of the sea.
There are plenty of viewing windows and lots and lots to see. You will almost feel as though you are in the ocean. In fact, my camera club thought that a few of my pix had been taken under water.
I even attended a wedding there one night and that was absolutely magnificent.
You can choose to visit only the water park or only the aquarium or both, as it suits you. If doing both, it is a good idea to make it a day trip. You will not be able to take your own food in so be sure to take money to buy food.
Ushaka Marine World - Fun in the SunClick thumbnail to view full-size
Midlands Marshmallow Farm
Ever Seen a Marshmallow Farm?
I was on a “short” walk the one day and as we took a short-cut (it was as a result of this shortcut that the walk was so “short”) through a field, we saw hay bales. Now, Midlands farmers are very sweet, they even tuck the hay in at night but one of the kids in the group was intrigued. Eventually, we asked him what he had found so fascinating and he said,”I always wondered how they grew marshmallows.”
Go to the Nelson Mandela Capture Site
Here is how to get to the Capture Site - you will drive along the same route that Nelson Mandela took when trying to evade capture.
The Sculpture of Madiba
For more on the Capture Site
- Mandela Capture Site
I have written a much more in depth Hub here, take a look for pix of the site and tributes paid to Madiba after his death.
Another Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands Baby
Swing By the Karkloof Canopy Tours
The Karkloof Canopy Tours
The Karkloof Canopy Tours
This is something remarkable that you can do in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands. It is an exciting and unique way to sightsee. Travel through the air on a zip line through the tops of the trees and survey the valley below. There are eight different levels to enjoy and different things to see at each level. There is even a hidden waterfall (depending on the season) at one of the rest stops on the way down.
If you are not sure about managing yourself on the zip lines, the guides will be more than happy to guide you. The worst thing that you can do, however, is to grab the line – this acts as a break. If you then follow it up by letting go of the line (like some people who will remain nameless) you will find yourself stranded in the middle of the line and will have to try to pull yourself in. Make sure that you don’t grab the line!
Head off to Butterflies for Africa?
Butterflies for Africa in Pietermaritzburg
This is a great place to stop and great for keen photographers.
It is best to go on a warmer day - the cooler the day, the less active the butterflies.
The "house" itself is quite magical - you walk along raised pathways over a stream full of fish and past a pretty waterfall. There are a good number of birds and also monkeys to see. (If you get there at the right time, you get to see them feeding the monkeys.) There are also some pet Iguanas. (I preferred the butterflies.)
I really enjoyed my trip - the place was nice and peaceful and there were so many different types of butterflies. I couldn't believe how many different types there actually were. They have a special section with pupae in the process of developing into butterflies so you get to see the whole life cycle of the butterflies.
This place will keep little and big kids enthralled for hours.
There is also a gift shop, coffee bar, art gallery, and nursery - plenty for everyone to do and see.
They are closed on Mondays, except those that fall on public holidays so plan your visit on any other day of the week.
They are open from 9:00 to 15:30 Tuesdays - Friday
9:30 to 15:30 on Saturdays
10:30 to 15:30 on Sundays
Check them out - it is a worthwhile excursion.
Butterflies for Africa in PietermaritzburgClick thumbnail to view full-size
© 2013 Fiona