Did you know?
The Zululand attraction, Shakaland, was originally built as part of the Shaka Zulu movie set.
The Zululand region of KwaZulu-Natal extends from the Dolphin Coast at the Thukela River mouth to Richards Bay in the north and inland to Paulpietersburg.
Its major attractions include its rich Zulu culture, a wealth of birdlife and several game and nature reserves.
While Zulu culture may be enjoyed at destinations across South Africa, none is as poignant as the heart of the Zulu Kingdom, where visitors experience Zulu hospitality, dance, song and food.
A visit to Shakaland or Dumazulu will allow you to become part of an authentic Zulu wedding; assist with the daily chores around the village or visit a local sangoma (traditional African healer). Take an ox-wagon to visit Zulu beehive huts or a township tour – to see shebeens (pubs), taverns and traditional medicine shops – to learn how the locals have adapted their age-old traditions to suit modern living.
Discover the heritage of Zululand when you stop off at Melmoth to visit the Valley of the Kings. This is the birthplace of legendary King Shaka – and the site of several Zulu kings' graves in the Emakhosini Valley..
Zululand also boasts a wealth of natural biodiversity. The Zululand Birding Route guides twitchers seeking out its 650 recorded bird species, by self-drive or on guided tours. The Dlinza Nature Reserve is a particularly popular birding spot.
There are many other nature and game reserves in this region, ranging from coastal and sub-tropical forested reserves along the coast to game reserves in authentic bush settings further north.
Undoubtedly one of the region's biggest attractions is the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, the oldest on the continent and home to Africa's famous Big Five – lion, rhino, elephant, leopard and buffalo. It offers visitors game drives, self-drive game routes, guided walks and wilderness trails that provide an intimate bush experience.
Round off your Zululand expedition with a visit to Richards Bay. This large harbour town boasts beautiful beaches and stunning wetland scenery.
Further inland lie tea plantations, cattle ranches and the historical town of Vryheid on The Battlefields Route – site of significant historical clashes between Zulu, boer (farmer) and Brit. About 50km north is Paulpietersburg, 'the healthiest town in South Africa' and part of the Rainbow Route – a tourism initiative linking inland South Africa with the Zululand coast. The town is renowned for its spring water and spas with therapeutic sulphur springs.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tourism KwaZulu-Natal Authority
Tel: +27 (0)31 366 7500
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Tel: +27 (0)33 845 1999
How to get here
Fly from any of South Africa’s major cities to King Shaka International Airport.
If you’re driving, from Johannesburg take the N3 freeway to Durban and then the N2 highway up the coast to Richards Bay. From Cape Town, take the N2 past Durban to Richards Bay.
Best time to visit
Zululand is an all-year-round destination due to its warm climate.
Tours to do
Valley of the Kings at Melmoth; walking trails in the Entumeni Forest; wilderness, walking and game trails and drives in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park; Empangeni Arts and Cultural History Museum at Empangeni; Richards Bay; the Zululand Birding Route; Zulu cultural villages and Anglo-Zulu War battle sites.
What to eat
Traditional South African fare at Zululand’s game reserves, authentic Zulu cuisine at cultural villages throughout the region and during the Reed Dance Festival.
Annual Zulu Reed Dance Festival at points throughout the region in September.
Zulu curios at cultural villages like Shakaland and Dumazulu.