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 pre-colonial 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.