After we had finished our four nights of relaxation in the Durban area, we headed inland again on the final leg of our journey back to Johannesburg. We did not go very far before we came to the small town of Howick, just outside of the city of Pietermaritzburg. This is the location of the spectacular Howick Falls, a 95-m (300 foot) waterfall where the Umgeni River plunges over a dolerite cliff. However, this was the dry season so the water was not at its most impressive full flow. We spent some enjoyable time here on their short walking trails before we continued inland for the southern Drakensberg Mountains. The view shown here was taken from a nice picnic area located just on the edge of town - within easy walking distance.
We had been able to book ourselves for one night at the Tendele camp in Royal Natal Park. This camp is located in the southern Drakensbergs and is surrounded by peaks of over 3300-m. The terrain is a mixture of open and forested hills and streams with a constant view of the surrounding peaks off in the distance. We took advantage of their extensive trail system during the afternoon of the day of our arrival. The first trail that we took, the Gorge trail, meandered along some rocky streams with interesting formations. We found the streams to be quite dry (photo) - in keeping with what we had observed throughout our trip. Our next venture was the higher elevation Devil's Footpath which took us into some nice forest cover as well as across the open sides of the valleys. Every so often birds would come gliding along the trail, whooshing just overhead quietly! We had some great bird viewing on this walk - with top honours going to a Paradise Flycatcher with its blue/green head and long reddish/orange tail! Other notable mentions were a Cape White Eye, a metallic green Malachite Sunbird and a Cape Batis among others. It was very relaxing to just sit admiring the views and listening to the quiet sounds of nature!
Cathedral Peak is a 3004-m (9600 ft.) mountain located on the Lesotho border just west of Ladysmith. Although we had had a rushed day since leaving Durban, this was one of those places that we had to visit because of our previous African history! It was almost 3 PM when we set off from our motel in Winterton, driving across the flat plain with the mountains visible in the distance. Forty minutes later we were at the famous Cathedral Peak Hotel (elevation 4800 ft) where many South Africans enjoy the cool mountain airs! We too enjoyed their walking trails along with the chirping birds and great views of the Drakensbergs! We also took the time to sit in the lush gardens of the hotel and have some orange juice before our return journey. Our original intention had been to spend a night here, but, after passing through two check points, paying 5 Rand for parking and taking a look at the menu prices, we could see that we were fortunate that we had decided to spend our Saturday night at the much smaller Bridge Hotel in Winterton! We made it back to our lodgings in Winterton just as darkness was falling. The photo shows a view of the Cathedral Peak section of the mountains as we sat beside one of the hotel walking trails in late afternoon.
For the only time on our trip, the weather in Royal Natal did not cooperate as much as we had hoped for! On our first day, the mists lifted briefly in the afternoon so we had some good views of the peaks. However, our next and final morning brought a heavy Scotch mist, severely limiting our views. Such is life in the higher elevations of the Drakensbergs! The peaks in Royal Natal are home to Tugela waterfall, the second highest in the world with a drop of over 3000 feet. This photo was taken just before noon, after we had left Royal Natal and were on our final stage into Johannesburg. It shows that one of the peaks still has not released its lingering cloud cover!
The day before this photo was taken, we had had a very long drive (570 km) from Mbabane, Swaziland south through the interior of KwaZulu-Natal as we made our dash to find a nice beachfront location to rest for a few days. We lucked out and managed to find a fantastic hotel right on the Indian Ocean! The warm tropical wind was blowing hard and huge waves constantly pounded the rocky shoreline with a strip of fine sand along the water's edge. Being from the Atlantic coast of Canada, after several days of touring the inland mountains and game parks of South Africa, I was thrilled to be beside the ocean again for a day or two! That first night, I slept contentedly to the sound of crashing waves and a sudden heavy rain storm! The next morning, my wife and I had a great walk along the sandy part of the beach before breakfast, just enjoying the seabirds and the sounds and smells of the Indian Ocean.
My wife had studied nursing at Addington Hospital many years before, when she was still in her teenage years! As a result, we naturally had to go and have a look at the now 30-something year old 'New' Addington Hospital, which is located right along the beach in Durban. My wife had always complained about how scary it was on the night shift when the windows rattled in the strong ocean breezes! This part of the city has broad tree-lined streets between the buildings and the Ocean and also has a great walking area along Marine Parade. Here you can relax in the shade of the trees, watch the street vendors hawk their wares or check out the action on the beach! We enjoyed watching the surfers do their thing and this in-city beach was very busy compared to our almost private beach at Tongaat!
The Estuary St Lucia,
Incredible waterway Great fishing, good boating, you may notice that most of my photo's on this VT site are overcast conditions, that is by choice the African sun can really hurt you, dryer heat than most anywhere on our earth, you can Blister within 30 minutes and not even feel it.
Oh yeah... Don't jump overboard for a cool down while your here, the crocodiles are pretty quick.
Ramsgate is a small coastal resort south of Durban. It is very popular with families as there is a large lagoon for children to swim in. There are also kayaks and pedalos for hire. The beach is quite large and there are a few cafes and some good seafood restaurants.
This Zulu village was specially built for a telemovie called “Shaka Zulu”. Despite this, it is a good reproduction of what traditional villages used to be. You are welcome ina a Zulu way, and you are taken around all the village and explained a lot of aspects about the Zulu culture.
Next to the huts of the cultural village there is a hotel with the same aspect as the village, although huts (rooms) do have all the facilities, bathroom, water, electricity, etc. There is also a restaurant with South African and International meals (French cheese!!!). The hotel and the restaurant are a bit priced.
In Norman Hurst Farm, Nkwalini, 14 Km. from Eshowe.
A zulu cultural village run by a local family. It has a lot of huts hand-made by this family (when I was there, women were repairing the huts, changing the straw). The huts are dorms and in summer it is packed with children having different activities (there is also a swimming pool), and you can not only walk free, and see the dancing and the cultural experience (there are also people dressed in beaded clothes and zulu warriors). The souvenir shop with lots of zulu crafts is one of the cheapest and full of different crafts.
It was the zulu village I liked the most. From the very beginning (from the main entrance in the road), they make this zulu experience seem like real. They give you a zulu welcome, teach you some words in zulu, and explain the life in the village in a way that you can even believe that life in the village is truly that way.
Voortrekkers defeated a Zulu army in 1838. They made a laager of their ox wagons. It was a revenge for the killing of an unarmed group of Voortrekkers by Zulus in 1837, while they had a meeting with king Dingane.
There is a Voortrekkersmonument and a replica in bronze of the ox wagons.
Shielded from prying eyes by omnipresent mountains on three sides - traversing endless grassy plains, primal wetlands and crystal streams - you'd be forgiven for imagining an untamed frontier where outlaws reign and contraband flows. Which was exactly the scenario...some 150-plus years ago.
Colonial authorities had begun carving up the Zulu Kingdom, bestowing on each new 'conquest' a suitably imperial title such as Victoria and Alexandra. This peak-cradled triangle, however, was No Man's Land... where smugglers and gun-runners ranged with impunity between the already-established Cape Colony and these fledgling fields of opportunity. In 1863, the Griqua people under Adam Kok staked their claim to this 'wild west' after a two-year search for a second promised land...having lost their original hinterland home to voracious white settlers. The Griqua relocation piqued British interest in the district, though, and on the first day of 1866, the Union Jack fluttered over a newly annexed territory called Alfredia - in honour of Prince Alfred.
A place of great beauty and high contrasts, Mkhuze is renowned as a mecca for bird lovers , with more than 420 bird species on record.
The reserve has an astonishing diversity of natural habitats, from the eastern slopes of the Lebombo mountains along its eastern boundary, to broad stretches of acacia savannah, swamps and a variety of woodlands and riverine forest.
A rare type of sand forest also occurs in the reserve.
Two beautiful pans, Nhlonhlela and Nsumo , lie in the north and east respectively, home to communities of hippo, crocodile, pinkbacked and white pelicans, as well as a diversity of ducks and geese which gather in spring.
Situated in northern Zululand, this 40 000 hectare reserve was proclaimed a protected area in 1912.
Mkhuze Game Reserve constitutes the north western spur of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park a recently declared World Heritage Site.
The Mkhuze River curves along the reserve's northern and eastern borders with a fine stretch of fig forest along its banks. Fish eagles swoop over the pans, snatching prey spotted from their perches in the fever trees. Other animals to be found in the reserve include black and white rhinoceros, elephant, giraffe, leopard, nyala, blue wildebeest, warthog, eland, impala, kudu and other smaller antelope. Rare species occurring are cheetah, hyaena and suni.
If you dont mind asking for new towls, shampoos, soap on a daily basis, this hotel is for you. Claim...more
This safari lodge situated just outside of Hluhluwe game reserve is second to non. A family run...more
R103 Nottingham Road, Pietermaritzburg, 3280, South Africa
Good for: Couples