From Durban's Sharks Board to uShaka Sea World for marine wildlife or up north to Hluhluwe-Imfolosi and a host of smaller parks along the Elephant Coast, or down south to Pure Venom reptile park or inland to private reserves or the Lion Park – there's wildlife aplenty not far from Durban.

Did you know?

Hluhuluwe is the oldest game reserve in South Africa.

While Durban (eThekwini) is a busy urban centre, a few hours' drive from the city lie a number of phenomenal wildlife destinations.

In July most years the annual Sardine Run hits the beaches of the south coast, when millions of small, silver fish migrate up the coastline, followed by predators such as dolphins, whales, sharks and seabirds.

Kilometre-long shoals of sardines seek refuge from sharks, dolphins and other marine predators by swimming close to shore. Crowds throng the beaches to scoop up the silvery bounty in baskets, buckets and clothing. Take a boat trip or microlight flip to see the action, or scuba dive and become part of the spectacle.

The Umgeni River estuary is a popular picnic spot. At low tide the shallows are exposed, and thousands of birds, including terns and pelicans, gather to feast. Get close to nature and birdlife by traversing the boardwalk through the protected Beachwood mangroves on the north side of Blue Lagoon.

Don't miss CROW (Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife) in Yellowwood Park, a wildlife hospital that cares for injured and orphaned wild animals and birds. Also worth a visit is the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board for an informative glimpse into the world of these impressive, misunderstood predators.

KwaZulu-Natal is a leading conservation area packed with game parks and reserves. In the north are the Hluhuluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage site. Both are renowned for large populations of wild animals and exquisite bird life. Inland is the mighty uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, another World Heritage Site that is home to a wealth of plant and birdlife.

Numerous smaller boutique game reserves such as Tala and GwaHumbe lie in the mid-Illovo region, and the Lion Park is close to Pietermaritzburg.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

KwaZulu-Natal Tourism

Phone: +27 87 803 4636

How to get here

It’s two hours' flight to Durban from Cape Town International and an hour to O R Tambo International Airport.

Get around

Self-drive is a good option to explore the natural and wildlife attractions at your own pace.

Length of stay

Book at least a week to explore the length and breadth of KwaZulu-Natal’s wild places.

What to pack

Light clothes for the daytime (it remains relatively warm in summer) and plenty of sunscreen; warm clothing for those rare chilly evenings outdoors.

Where to stay

From rustic South African National Parks (SANParks) accommodation to some of the finest luxury lodges in the world, KwaZulu-Natal has accommodation to suit all needs and budgets.