PMB / MIDLANDS
Pietermaritzburg, named after Boer settlers Pieter Retief and Gert Maritz, offers visitors a wonderful blend of history, culture and craft. Five years after establishing Pietermaritzburg, however, the Boers succumbed to British military might leaving their well-planned city to be stamped with Edwardian and Victorian architecture. Today these architectural gems sit beside vendors and hawkers and streets abuzz with taxis, giving it a real African vibe. The Pietermaritzburg City Hall, rebuilt in 1895 after fire ravaged the original building, is said to be the largest brick building in the southern hemisphere – and is the starting point of the Tsogo Sun Amashova Durban Classic 2018. This, the oldest road classic cycle race in South Africa sees thousands of cyclists starting their 105km cycle to Durban. Not into cycling? Then take a walk through the Pietermaritzburg’s historical centre and enjoy the architecture and history of the town, as well as its wonderful museums and art galleries. Spring has sprung and the KZN Midlands is looking beautiful, the rolling hills now lush and green and the gardens something to behold – look out for the Open Gardens in both the Pietermaritzburg and Midlands region. The Midlands Meander is not just a ‘pretty face’, running between Mooi River and Hilton; you get to discover a host of foodie destinations, coffee hang-outs and creativity dens. Grab a Midlands Meander Guide and spare some lazy hours uncovering the meander. Be inspired to shop for plants, take an art or pottery course, or even learn to cook! There are numerous ‘shop till you drop’ opportunities to take home the perfect hand-woven rug, wrought iron candlesticks or designer pottery teapot. And in between gardens, shopping and being creative, make sure you fit in some ‘me time’ surrounded by the fragrance of lavender and lemon grass at a glorious Midlands spa! And if adventure is more your thing, you’ll not be disappointed as the region offers a variety of thrills on land, water and in the air. The forests and hills offer memorable mountain biking and 4×4 trails or abseil the 107m drop down the Howick Falls – or whiz through the trees on a Canopy Tour. Get wet as you go tubing or kayaking down the Dusi River or white water rafting on the magnificent Umkomaas River, said to be second only to the mighty Zambezi. For a more leisurely pursuit, go fly fishing in what is considered some of the best trout fishing waters in South Africa, from the flowing waters of the Mooi River to numerous private trophy dams. Or explore the Midlands Amble, another fisherman’s delight. Tucked away in these rolling green hills just beyond Pietermaritzburg, are valleys littered with small dams and the much larger Albert Falls Dam, offering premier bass fishing. Not that into fishing? Then hop on the mountain bike or walk the trails of the surrounding nature reserve where birdlife and wildlife abound – look out for zebra, giraffe, rhino and a variety of antelope, including red hartebeest, oribi and springbok.