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IIf you like horses, you will love the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal province. Here you will find some of South Africa’s foremost equestrian experts, as well a vast variety of terrain to explore on horseback. From grassy plains to rocky mountains and gushing streams, there’s plenty for horse and rider to enjoy.
The KwaZulu-Natal Midlands is home to some of South Africa’s most passionate horse handlers. Many of the country’s most famous racing stud farms can be found in this area, and there are numerous estates that offer horse riding as an activity.
NNottingham Road is a town synonymous with horse riding in South Africa, having produced many top horses and riders across various equestrian disciplines over the years. Here you’ll find several riding schools, as well as estates where riders of all experience levels can explore on horseback. Kleinbosch Estate is just one of the establishments to consider.
History buffs can explore the KwaZulu-Natal Battlefields region on horseback and follow in the hoofprints of soldiers who fought here. Numerous wars between the Zulus, the Boers and the British were waged in this area, which has remained largely undeveloped and unspoilt.
While visiting the battlefields, you may wish to take some time to experience one of the traditional horse races held in farm fields on certain weekends.
Inversanda farm in the Dargle area, close to Midmar Dam, has a selection of horses for guests to choose from, as well as stabling for those who wish to bring their horses on holiday with them.
Zulu Waters Game Reserve near Estcourt offers horse riding tours of the reserve to guests as part of the package. Wildlife that you may get close to during your rides includes buffalo, rhino, wildebeest, zebra and a variety of antelope.
IIf you’d like to experience the Midlands region’s impressive forestry, Karkloof Horse Adventures offers three-hour rides through pine plantations, with scenery that includes six waterfalls. Zebra and antelope are some of the wildlife you will encounter on this adventure.
For more information about horse riding in this part of South Africa, contact Tourism KwaZulu-Natal.
TTravel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Zulu Waters Game Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)36 352 0100
How to get here
Self-drive is your best option for getting around in the Midlands, so fly to King Shaka International Airport in Durban and hire a car. The N2 South from the airport takes you to the N3, which takes you to Pietermaritzburg and beyond, into the Midlands.
Best time to visit
The Midlands can be fiercely hot from December to February, although showers (and mist in some parts) can bring refreshing relief. Winters, from June to August, generally deliver fairly mild days, but the nights get cold, especially when there is snowfall on the Drakensberg Mountains. If evenings spent toasting marshmallows and sipping hot toddies in front of a roaring fire is your thing, then you should definitely visit in winter.
Things to do in the area
If you want to spend some time out of the saddle, a drive along the Midlands Meander from Mooi River to Hilton offers frequent stops at stores selling a wide range of art and traditional craftwork, fashion and footwear, homemade pickles, preserves and cheeses, and furniture and décor handcrafted from wood, metal and other materials – not to mention plenty of restaurants and pubs, including several attached to craft breweries.
What to pack
Comfortable riding gear and adequate sun protection.
Where to stay
Apart from establishments catering specifically to horse riders, accommodation options in the Midlands range from budget backpackers and cosy B&Bs to 5-star private hotels and lodges. You can find plenty of suggestions on the Tourism KwaZulu-Natal and Midlands Meander websites.
What to eat
This is dairy country, so be sure to explore any cheesemakers you encounter on the Midlands Meander.