Road trips in and around KwaZulu-Natal
1The Midlands Meander
Straddling the N2 north, the Midlands Meander route showcases more than 100 art and craft outlets, including weavers, potters, woodcrafters, leather workers, artists, metalworkers, box makers, herb growers, cheese makers, beer brewers, cabinet makers, stud farms, pubs and a host of excellent eateries – all spread out along 80km of beautiful rolling countryside.
2The Battlefields Route
The KwaZulu-Natal Battlefields route has received international acclaim for its historical contribution to South Africa. It was here that many of the country's bloodies battles were fought. From the Zulu wars to Isandlwana, Rorke's Drift, Colenso, Spioenkop and Blood River, each clash is recounted by knowledgeable guides on a
landscape where forts and small graveyards tell their own story.
3Durban to the Wild Coast
The South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal has been described as "bucket-and-spade country" for good reason. Take a trip along the N2 south from Durban and spend the day stopping at the numerous small towns and popular seaside villages that you'll find dotted along the coast as far as Port Edward. Venture further and you'll enter Wild Coast territory, where rugged isolated coastline and wild seas make for a very different vista.
4The Southern Drakensberg
Set in the southern foothills of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg World Heritage Site are the pretty country towns of Underberg and Himeville. The "Berg" is a popular weekend getaway for both coastal and inland residents, where hiking, cycling, swimming, fishing and relaxing form the main attraction. Many quaint bed and breakfast spots, caravan parks and camping spots woo the road tripper into staying overnight and visiting one of the region's famous local pubs.
5Durban to the Valley of a Thousand Hills
Half an hour inland from the beautiful beaches of Durban, at the gateway to the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands you'll come upon the culture-steeped, picturesque Valley of a Thousand Hills. True to its name the hills in this valley are typically rounded and dotted with rural Zulu dwellings. Perched alongside the road overlooking the valley are many arts, crafts, curio stores and eateries, while not far away three large modern centres promise great traditional shopping.
6Durban to the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve
From Durban take the N2 north for 220km to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, the oldest game reserve in Africa and one of South Africa's largest. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is a home to more than 2 400 endangered black and white rhino, as well as lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo. The northern part of the reserve is forested and mountainous in contrast to the undulating open savannah common to the southern Imfolozi region. This varied habitat attracts over 340 bird species.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi has hot, humid and rainy summers between September and April. From May to August conditions are dry and warm during the day, cooler at night. During winter the vegetation is sparser and watering holes busier, so game spotting is easier.
Where to stay
Accommodation options range from self-catering rondavels (round thatched huts) and chalets to fully-catered luxury lodges.
Tours to do
Evening game drives offer an exciting alternative to day drives, since many predators hunt under cover of darkness.
DID YOU KNOW?
Established in 1895, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is the oldest game reserve on the African continent and one of South Africa's largest.
Among South Africa's largest game parks, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is arguably the best reserve in the country in which to see the endangered rhino. The reserve boasts a number of both black and white rhino, along with other members of the Big 5 - lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo.
7The Elephant Coast
It's well worth a road trip north to explore the wonders of the Elephant Coast, which lies four hours away from Durban along the Lubombo Road. The Elephant Coast is home to a number of game reserves populated by the Big 5 (elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo), subtropical marine reefs, Maputaland's pristine beaches and the gem in the crown, iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site - a wonderland of lakes, flora and wildlife.
8Sodwana Beach to Kosi Lake Nature Reserve
Sodwana Bay is famous for its magnificent deep-sea diving and the southernmost coral reefs in the world, as well as marine species like the whale, whale shark and dolphin. Get there by heading north along the N2 freeway from Durban, a trip that takes around four hours. Once you've spent time enjoying all that Sodwana has to offer, keep heading north to Kosi Bay Nature Reserve, where an unspoiled lake paradise is home to fish eagle, palmnut vulture, hippo and crocodile, among many other fauna species.
9Durban’s North Coast
If you take the M4 north from Durban, you'll be spoiled for choice with seaside spots such as Umhlanga, Umhlali, Ballito, Salt Rock and Zinkwazi, all of which comprise the Dolphin Coast. Along the route you'll see the Gateway Theatre of Shopping, the King Shaka Airport, Sibaya Casino, Zimbali resort, Ballito shopping centre and many other smaller places of interest.
10From KwaMbonambi to Mapelane
Mapelane may be found 50km off the Empangeni-Mtubatuba Road, opposite the Kwambonambi turnoff. A 4x4 is necessary to negotiate this sandy road which leads into a 900ha forest comprising dune forest, swamp forest and a lagoon rich in endemic coastal flora. Continue for 15km through the forest to reach the pristine Mapelane Beach, a ski-boater's delight due to its unspoiled beauty and plentiful fishing opportunities.