Thukela River, KwaZulu-Natal
Did you know?
The Thukela River flows for more than 500km from the Drakensberg to the Indian Ocean.
The Thukela River, KwaZulu-Natal's largest watercourse, plunges 947 metres over the Thukela Falls before winding its way from the mighty Drakensberg mountains down to the Indian Ocean.
At its source the Thukela has carved out a magnificent gorge that can be viewed both from below by hiking up the Thukela River valley and from above by negotiating a chain ladder at the head of the gorge.
In the 1800s the Thukela River formed a natural border between the Zulu Kingdom to the northeast and the Colony of Natal to the south.
British forces were responsible for the construction of Fort Pearson and Fort Tenedos about 10 kilometres from the river mouth in 1879. The two forts remain as a testament to a more turbulent past and provide an interesting historical detour.
As the Thukela River winds its way through the small rural towns of Colenso and Bergville, a number of monuments and memorials mark the sites of bloody battles fought between colonial forces and resident farmers. At Kranskop, on the edge the river valley, you'll encounter the remains of Fort Buckingham, a remnant of the Anglo-Zulu War.
The dark military memories that are so much part of the largest river in KwaZulu-Natal are more than offset by the peace and tranquillity to be found along its upper reaches.
On its southern bank lies the Harold Johnson Nature Reserve, where more than 200 bird species have been recorded and game viewing is at its best. Take advantage of a number of hiking trails that take you into the territory of zebras, mongooses, monkeys and a variety of antelope roaming freely in their natural habitat.
The Thukela Game Reserve showcases wildlife including elephant, wildebeest, warthog, hyena and buck species. Birders will delight in the presence of ground hornbills and ostrich.
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Phone: +27 (0)31 366 7500