Head into the Great Outdoors… and restore your soul
KwaZulu-Natal, fondly known as the Zulu Kingdom, is arguably South Africa’s most diverse province offering a diversity of cultures, scenery, attractions, and experiences, including two World Heritage Sights. From regions rich in battlefields and monuments, to majestic mountains and tranquil rolling hills that beckon you to relax and unwind, to savannas and bushveld teeming with wildlife and to tropical beaches and the warm Indian Ocean. With all this at your disposal there are plenty of opportunities to get out and about and find restoration for your soul – with 2020 being what it was and the start to the year we have had, we surely need it!
Beach Time… with a coastline more than 580km, stretching from the wild beaches of the lower South Coast, along Durban’s Golden Mile towards Umhlanga
and Ballito, then on towards the beaches of uMtunzini, Richards Bay and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, you’re bound to find a spot that’s just perfect for you. Watch the sky turn from dark magenta to crimson and orange as the sun peeks over the horizon and watch the early morning sunlight glimmer on the ocean.
Enjoy the thrill of horse-riding on the beach, don goggles and fins and snorkel the shallows, just be mindful of changing tides and ocean currents, or stroll along the shore as the waves gently wash over your feet, reminding you that things are ‘new’ every morning. Spread out your towels and laze under the fronds of a strelitzia as the heat of the day mounts then run into the warm Indian Ocean to cool off and be refreshed.
Wild and Wonderful… KZN is renowned for its wonderful wild spaces, pristine nature reserves and beautifully manicured botanic gardens. Stroll through the Durban or Pietermaritzburg Botanic Gardens and marvel at the colours, tones and textures of our natural environment and finish off the walk with a picnic under one of the huge trees – there is nothing like getting away from it all, slowing down and enabling nature to restore your soul. Take some time out in a local nature reserve – head out early and be greeted with birdsong, walk beneath tall treetops, and hear the breeze rustling through the forest canopy. Or go on an early morning bush walk and be amazed at the little duikers nibbling at the undergrowth, or a zebra as it shakes off the morning dew and watch out for the little creatures and critters as they greet the new day at one of numerous nature reserves throughout the province.
Or go on a game drive… there is nothing quite like being up with the birds and heading into the bush. The thrill of a safari, seeing animals in their natural environment and that first stop for coffee and rusks – on the crest of a hill, alongside a dam or under a large Marula tree. On occasion you may be treated with a breakfast stop and if it’s a late afternoon drive, then sundowners or even canapes and cocktails at a secluded spot with fairy lights in a tree. That’s the high-end luxury option, but mid-range and more affordable options are available, including the option of self-drives in many of the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and iSimangaliso Wetland Park game reserves – either way, the choices are vast and the experiences incredibly memorable.
Up, up and away… see the world from a bird’s eye view from the heights of a hot air balloon. Head out at dawn and after a quick cup of coffee clamber into the wicker basket and then rise into the still of the morning as you watch the sun gently rise over the horizon. In addition to the thrill of experience, imagine the memories that you’re making! There are a few opportunities for hot air balloon rides in KZN, from souring to great heights along the Drakensberg, over the rolling hills and meadows of the KZN Midlands and even over the bushveld of Tala Game Reserve. If you’d prefer something motorized, then a helicopter flip is just for you. Westline Aviation operate from Dragon Peaks Park and in addition to offering a spectacular Drakensberg experience they also fly to game reserves and battlefields. Prefer to be soaring like a bird along the coastline? Then opt for a scenic microlight flight, available from both Ballito and Umkomaas.
Get Active… KZN offers several options for getting active in the outdoors. From trail running and mountain biking, quad biking and zip lining, to canoeing, sailing and even skiing. Try exploring by Segway, doing a city walking tour and if you’re feeling brave and after an adrenalin rush, then head to the Moses Mabhida Stadium for the Big Rush Big Swing. Take to the ocean and learn to scuba dive, go shark cage diving or even snorkel with sharks. Too much water for your liking? Then try SUP boarding or ocean kayaking but be sure to go with an experienced guide.
Make Time for a Getaway… but most of all, take some time out to explore this beautiful province – go for a day, make a weekend of it, or stay for a week, the choice is yours. From mountain lodges and quaint B&Bs, to luxurious lodges, country inns and city hotels – you’re spoilt for choice in KZN!