Choose your country and language:
AA visit to the Valley of a Thousand Hills offers so much for travellers to choose from – Zulu history, culture and curios, retail therapy, wildlife tours, adventure sports, hiking trails, excellent restaurants – all the while meandering through the magnificent scenery of KwaZulu-Natal.
The picturesque valley, filling the horizon with endless rolling hills, lies less than an hour inland from the beautiful beaches of Durban, serving as the gateway to the scenic KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.
Conveniently located midway between the coastal hub (Durban and the surrounding municipality, known as eThekwini) and the provincial capital, Pietermaritzburg, the region is ideally suited to a lazy days browsing through the many arts, crafts, collectibles and curios to be found.
Around the rim of the Valley of a Thousand Hills lie verdant suburbs dotted with cottages and B&B establishments, while upmarket shopping centres in Hillcrest, Westville and Botha’s Hill offer shoppers a plethora of home crafts, décor, clothing, food and other goodies.
The world-famous Comrades Marathon runs through here in May, and the Amashova cycle race follows the same route in October. The Umgeni River in the valley below is the testing ground for participants in the gruelling Dusi Canoe Marathon every February.
This region is also home to the 1000 Hills Chefs School – one of South Africa’s top culinary schools, which has been a training ground for some of the world’s top chefs – bespoke wooden furniture by Shelldon, the 1000 Hills Bird Park and the early Saturday morning Shongweni Farmers’ Market at Assagay.
For generations, Zulu people have lived in and around the valley, and no visit is complete without a trip to one of the Zulu cultural villages, where tourists can gain insight into the culture and traditions of one of the largest ethnic groups in South Africa. Traditional dancing, cultural shows and curios are showcased at Phezulu Safari Park, while crafts and curios are sold at the 1000 Hills Arts and Crafts Village.
The Inchanga Choo-Choo, a steam train run by Umgeni Steam Railway, departs from Kloof Station on the last Sunday of every month and winds through the magnificent scenery of the valley to Inchanga, where travellers can enjoy a picnic lunch with pony rides and a jumping castle for the kids, before returning to Kloof. The Umgeni Steam Railway also offers other regular outings, including night rides.
Mariannhill Monastery, established by Roman Catholic monks more than a century ago, boasts striking architecture and an art gallery. The nature reserves of Assagay, Springside and Krantzkloof Gorge offer respite from the bustle of the modern urban lifestyle, but the adventurous might prefer paragliding or rock climbing at Inchanga and Monteseel, or mountain biking at Giba Gorge Mountain Bike Park.
TTravel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Valley of a Thousand Hills Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)31 322 2855
How to get here
Fly in via King Shaka International Airport and take the N2 south, then the N3 heading inland, away from Durban. Access to the various Valley of a Thousand Hills sites begins about halfway between Durban and Pietermaritzburg; the area is well signposted, but a decent map app on a smartphone is also a good idea.
Around the area
Shongweni Dam and Game Reserve offers hiking trails where you can see large game such as bushbuck, wildebeest, rhino and giraffe. And if you need to pamper yourself, the spas at Makaranga and Crowhurst, both in Kloof, are excellent.
Tours to do
The Mariannhill Monastery near Pinetown has an art gallery featuring the works of local artists and a fascinating museum detailing the monastery’s rich history. Guided tours are available.
While there are some public transport options, such as taxis and buses, hiring your own vehicle will allow you to explore at your own pace.
What to pack
Always remember a hat and plenty of sunscreen.
Where to stay
The leafy suburbs around the valley offer a wide choice of charming B&Bs and cosy self-catering cottages for rent.
Check venue websites for details of entertainment and events in the area.
There are many roadside curio stalls selling a variety of leather, glass, bead and wood pieces.