Drakensberg, Battlefields & Safari
This itinerary will take you to Umhlanga Rocks, hiking through the Drakensberg Mountains, visiting battlefields before finishing up with a 'big 5' safari.
KwaZulu-Natal (often abbreviated to simply KZN) is the name given to the “garden province” of South Africa. Located on the east coast of the country with the warm Indian Ocean waters lapping at its shores, KwaZulu-Natal was formed in 1994 when the non-independent black state of KwaZulu, home of South Africa’s Zulu people, merged with the Natal province after Apartheid.
Bordering Mozambique, Lesotho and eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), the region is comprised of big cities, such as Durban and Pietermaritzburg; rugged stretches of coastline and surfer beaches along the Elephant Coast; the domineering mountain ranges of Drakensberg (Mountains of Dragons); as well as Big Five sightings at Hluhluwe Game Reserve.
Hluhluwe Game Reserve, also known as Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, is Africa’s oldest nature reserve and an excellent safari destination. Early morning game drives are the best times to spot big cats, such as lions and cheetahs, whereas dusky evenings provide great chances for herbivore sightings and birdwatching - 340 species call this reserve home.
Once you’ve had your fill of mammals and birds, head down to the seafront for encounters with marine life. Formerly known as the Maputaland Coast, the natural beauty of the Elephant Coast is one of South Africa’s true gems.
Here, you’ll find gorgeous beaches, watersports and more wildlife watching opportunities. Take a trip to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Lake St Lucia and Kosi Bay, which offer a taste of what the landscape looked like in precolonial Africa.
Popular activities around the Elephant Coast include fishing, boat trips, snorkelling and scuba diving, turtle tracking, horse riding and other walks and tours. Make sure you try some of the food in this region, especially locally caught seafood, which combines local Mabini flavours with Portuguese, British and Dutch colonial influences.
If you’d like to learn more about the local culture, take a trip to see the San paintings found in caves and rocky formations all around KwaZulu-Natal – these are some of the most ancient examples of human art on Earth.
From the dramatic peaks of the Drakensberg escarpment to the tropical beaches along the Indian Ocean, a trip to KwaZulu-Natal offers an array of stunning landscapes, wildlife watching opportunities and interactions with local cultures.
KwaZulu-Natal has sunshine all year and a sub-tropical climate, including humid summers between October and April, and mild winters between May and September. However, with such varied topography (Drakensberg has peaks reaching 3,000 metres), you will find both cooler and warmer weather in different areas of the large province.
There are also a lot of fun festivals and events happening in the region throughout the year, which you may wish to look out for. The Dusi Canoe Marathon from Pietermaritzburg and Durban takes place across three days in February, Grape Crushing Festival helps produce the local wine in April and the famous Sardine Run (the “Greatest Shoal on Earth”) in June sees millions of sardines - followed by dolphins, sharks and whales – migrate along the coast.
A full week in KwaZulu-Natal is featured in our KwaZulu-Natal Safari & Beach holiday itinerary, including time at Hluhluwe Game Reserve (park fees included in your tour) and the Elephant Coast. With so much to see and do in the area, you may not wish to leave the province, but if you’d like to add time here to a longer, tailor made South Africa holiday itinerary, then let us know and we can arrange this for you.
Our tours in the KwaZulua-Natal region include stays at Montusi Mountain Lodge, located in the Drakensberg region. The property provides a great base for exploring the province, as well as epic mountain views. Facilities include a swimming pool, a tennis court and an on-site spa. Make sure you get a chance to see the old bushmen paintings in the nearby caves.