Kwazulu Natal-The Heart of the Zulu Kingdom in South Africa

Before getting into the reasons you should come here, a little basic geography about KwaZulu-Natal is in order.
Kwazulu Natal is a province of South Africa located on the eastern edge of the country. It borders a vast expanse of the Indian Ocean coastline, as well as three other South African provinces and three different countries. There are three parts to this province – subtropical and located along the coastal areas, forests and damp grasslands located towards the interior of the country and savannah located in the northern regions. There are deep ravines near the coast, hilly plateaus and mountain ranges, and near the border of Lesotho there is an amazing sight – a solid Basalt wall rising almost 10,000 feet into the air.

As the name suggests, this province is home of the mighty Zulu Nation, which has a rich history, culture and beliefs. They have a distinct look about them and are perhaps most famous for the battle they fought against the British in the later part of the nineteenth century.

Kwazulu Natal is a place of many wonders. The wildlife is particularly interesting with one of the largest concentrations of game reserves in South Africa, including the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, the oldest in Africa. Opening in 1895 and one of the largest in the country, Hluhluwe, Imfolozi, and the Corridor Reserve that links the two comprise over 95,000 hectares or 367 sq. mi.

Upland South Africa-

Upland South Africa- SavannaCC BY-SA 3.0

Here you will see not only Africa’s “big five” – elephants, rhinos, lions, buffalo and leopards but also zebra, giraffe and wildebeests. There are many varieties of smaller carnivores including the world’s most endangered species – the African Hunting Dog. The Park is home to the largest population of white rhinos. In fact an organization called Operation Rhino, started in the 1950-60s, put the reserve on the map with their activities. At the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve many exciting activities await you. In addition to seeing Africa’s famous animals, there are over 300 different species of birds.

And, there are all sorts of adventures to be had, from self-guided walking and driving tours to boat cruises and guided safaris in open four-wheel drive vehicles. With rafting opportunities and hidden places along well-established watering holes, you’ll see the animals up close. You can also picnic in many locations along the way.

There are many different kinds of accommodations (both inside and outside the Park) to enjoy when you visit. The accommodations in the Park called the Mpila and Hilltop Camps are run by the KwaZulu Natal Wildlife Management. They offer facilities from full luxury accommodations to self-catering sites.

The small town of Hluhluwe, only 25 kilometres from the Park, also has an abundance of lodging options. While Hluhluwe has just about everything for the visitor, you’ll also find shops selling much needed supplies as well as things the local tribes make, restaurants, a bar, facilities for buying petrol and even a place to do your laundry in the Park.

In addition to the National Reserves, the region many private reserves, such as the Thanda Private Game Preserve which offers a wide range of services and amenities. Originally cattle farms, this preserve went through three years of rehabilitation to bring the land back to what it had been and then to reintroduce the wildlife species that had once lived in the area. In fact, this private reserve was the first in KwaZulu-Natal to successfully breed a pack of African Wild Dogs.

Visitors can spend their time seeing the dramatic landscape and animals, enjoy the Zulu culture or indulge themselves in luxurious spa retreats with private pools, fine dining with wine from the fruits of Africa. Accommodation is available for singles, couples, families and, even those on their honeymoon. After all, in the Zulu language, “Thanda” means love.

Howick falls --CC BY-SA 3.0view terms--Wikipedia User :kierano

Howick falls –CC BY-SA 3.0view terms–Wikipedia User :kierano

There are many advantages to visiting private reserves, they are usually smaller, and with only a limited number of guided tours, the amount of traffic in and around the preserve is smaller as well. This helps preserve the natural wildlife habitat and ensures greater enjoyment and safety for you and your family. While staying at a private reserve you will often see wild creatures during the daytime and at night, many will put on special night adventures to let you experience the hunting habits of the largest carnivores.

A qualified guide, often people local to the area, can get you up close and personal, (they will often be carrying a firearm for everyone’s protection). Most of the people working here since the park first opened are locals and have helped reintroduce many species of the wildlife.

Whether at a private game preserve or one of the National Preserves, it’s best to plan you visit well ahead of time. Many of the accommodations have five star luxury ratings and they tend to fill up fast. During the summer months, the safaris and tours also fill up, so you will need to book early to ensure that you don’t miss out on the special opportunities to see Africa’s wildlife.

You can travel during the peak tourist months or visit during the off-peak season. Be sure you pack according to the climate at the time of year you will be visiting, after all it is winter in the southern hemisphere when it’s summer in the northern hemisphere. During much of the year the temperatures stay around 70-80 degrees F, but in the winter the temperature can drop well below freezing at night.

You should ensure that all your inoculations are up-to-date and getting extra protection for certain African diseases is also a good idea, so check with your doctor to make sure you are fully protected.
For majestic settings and views, unforgettable experiences, wonderful hospitality, delightful people and cultures, and great value for money, please come visit the heart of the Zulu Kingdom in South Africa.