Forest sanctuaries and misty hills create an atmosphere of peace and tranquility –interrupted by a plethora of birdcalls. A visit to the quaint village of Mtunzini will have you strolling beneath a forest of majestic Raphia Palms – an official National Monument since 1942 created when fourteen seeds collected from naturally occurring palms along the Kosi lake system were planted. These have spread to become a forest of Raphia palms, a food source for the rare Palm Nut Vulture which feeds on its fruit. Or walk along the raised boardwalk through the mangroves, spend an early morning birdwatching, hike through coastal forest or take a boat cruise on the estuary. Set within the bustling harbour city of Richards Bay, south of the harbour, is the Richards Bay Game Reserve. This reserve boasts a huge community of aquatic birds as well as hippo and crocodiles. The lagoon, which offers spectacular wetland scenery is home to several bird species including flamingo, cormorant and several other waders – and if you’re lucky you may get a sighting of the rare pink-backed pelican. Once you’re done with wildlife, take a dip in the warm Indian Ocean at the Alkantstrand Beach and complete your day with sundowners and dinner at the Waterfront.
Head inland towards the ‘Heart of The Zulu Kingdom’ where its echoes of the past blend seamlessly with Zulu life today. It’s an area where the fascinating culture of the Zulu people, rich in tradition and symbolism, is visibly evident and where each visit calls for an authentic ‘Zulu experience’. Many tourist destinations offer insightful opportunities to experience living Zulu culture at first hand… don’t miss the chance to experience traditional Zulu hospitality as you partake in a shared meal and drink local beer. This region echoes the past in many ways and is a reminder of the rich history of the Zulu nation – this land also witnessed one of the greatest challenges to the supremacy of the British Empire during the tragic but heroic days of the Anglo-Zulu War. Pick up a Route 66 map and explore the many memorials, museums and battle sites of this futile war.
But the ’Heart of the Zulu Kingdom’ is more than just a place. It is where the visitor to Zululand can feel its powerful presence in the people’s immense pride in their own heritage and culture… from the Seven Kings, who lie buried at the eMakhosini Ophathe Heritage Park, to the Big Five. There is an extensive network of nature reserves and game parks ensuring an abundance of flora and fauna to delight the visitor – from several hundred bird species, many species of antelope, hippo, cheetah, giraffe to the Big Five…lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino.
And then there’s Lake Jozini, the southernmost point in Africa where the ferocious tiger fish is found.
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did you know?
The Zulu name for lion is ingonyama which means ‘wild beast of prey’ or ‘the master of all flesh’. Lions usually live in groups of about 10 to 15 animals called a pride – the females do almost all the hunting and the males the patrolling of territory and protection of the pride. They can run at speeds of up to 81 kilometres per hour and an adult male’s roar can be heard up to 8km away.