Did you know?
Alan Paton started writing his famous novel Cry the Beloved Country while on a study tour of correctional facilities in America
The KwaZulu-Natal Literary Tourism Route is at the cutting edge of an exciting form of travel, where you follow the lives of the famous writers who lived and worked in a certain area.
And in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, the Literary Tourism Route is a journey that calls up the spirits of renowned writers like Alan Paton, Lewis Nkosi, Ronnie Govender and the legendary Rider Haggard, to name but a few.
Travel around Pietermaritzburg on the trail of Paton (writer of Cry, the Beloved Country, among other works), in the place he called 'the lovely city'. He was one of the first white establishment figures to stand firmly against apartheid. Paton is a favourite with South African literary tourism.
Rider Haggard, of King Solomon's Mines fame, was a literary romantic personified and another world-famous figure celebrated on this literary tourism route. His first foothold in South Africa came in the form of a commission on the staff of Sir Henry Bulwer, Lieutenant-Governor of Natal.
Lewis Nkosi, who now lives in Switzerland, based his main protagonist in Mating Birds in the Cato Manor region. Popular among literary tour routes in KwaZulu-Natal, the Cato Manor Writers' Trail follows his career as a journalist and his move to writing essays and novels.
Ronnie Govender also wrote about Cato Manor (in At The Edge and Other Cato Manor Stories), and this celebrated playwright holds a medal from the English Academy of South Africa for his contribution to English literature.
A place where many famous writers and political figures networked was in Grey Street, Durban. The Grey Street Writers' Tour – held on the last Thursday of every month – remembers luminaries like Mahatma Ghandi, Fatima Meer and Aziz Hassim.
Grey Street is still the spiritual epicentre of KwaZulu-Natal's Indian community, many of whose ancestors came out to South Africa as indentured labourers in the mid-1800s, to work the cane fields of Natal.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
KwaZulu-Natal Literary Tourism Authority
Phone: +27 (0)31 260 2308
How to get here
The KwaZulu-Natal Literary Tourism Route is centred around the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg, both easy to access by car. Durban is serviced by the King Shaka International Airport.
Best time to visit
All year round, but December tends to be very congested with holidaymakers in Durban.
Around the area
Pietermaritzburg and Durban have no shortage of attractions – plenty of history, colourful markets, and, in Durban's case, glorious beaches.
Tours to do
On the last Thursday of every month, you can join the Grey Street Writers' Tour and experience the places that inspired and influenced writers like Mahatma Gandhi, Fatima Meer and Imraan Coovadia.
In some cases, you may be able to walk, but a car would be most convenient.
Length of stay
This depends on the depth of your interest in the various writers, but one or two days should be sufficient.
What to pack
Bring along the books of the writers that interest you, and look for landmarks and influences in their writing. Never forget a hat and sunscreen.
Where to stay
There is no shortage of accommodation in either city – hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs and self-catering chalets.
What to eat
Durban curries and bunny chows.