KwaZulu - Natal
Where to go
Keen to see rhinos and whales on the same day? Then head to KwaZulu-Natal’s northeastern corner – absolute perfection for those looking for a combination of a beach and bush safari. This region not only boasts Africa’s oldest proclaimed game reserve, the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, where you will find the Big Five, but also the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, an internationally renowned UNESCO World Heritage site.
iSimangaliso, meaning ‘wonder’ or ‘miracle’ in Zulu, contains eight ecosystems, including lakes, swamp forests, coral reefs, Africa’s largest estuary and 220km of gorgeous Indian Ocean beaches. And it’s the clear, warm water off these beaches that has watersport aficionados flocking here in droves. Sodwana Bay and Mabibi in particular are popular with divers as the diving is great all year round and the water temperature seldom dips below 19°C, even in winter. Dolphins play in the surf (giving this stretch of coast the name Dolphin Coast) while whales make their seasonal migration to Mozambique.
While you may well choose to simply relax at times, we’re pretty sure some of the activities on offer will entice you to participate. Think kayaking, snorkeling, kite surfing or horse riding on the beach. Sip a cocktail while soaking up the atmosphere from a double-decker ferry on Lake St Lucia or go on game drives (during the day or at night) at one of the many reserves dotted around.
In fact, we’d encourage you to check out the game parks and reserves here. (Not that we don’t love the Kruger!) The weather is milder than further north, the grass is literally greener and you can see all the game you want, including the Big Five. At Phinda Private Game Reserve, for example, you can go on game drives, join a walking safari or scuba dive, go on a river cruise or have the ultimate cultural encounter in the local Zulu community – all in the space of 24 hours.
Interested in history? You’re close to the battlefields of both the Anglo-Boer and the Anglo-Zulu wars. Go on a guided tour of the battlefields: the chilling accounts of the battles of Rorke's Drift and Isandlwana will help you gain a deeper insight into the rich history of the area.
Must see: Take a ‘hippo and croc’ sunset cruise on Lake St Lucia where hippos are so plentiful they look like boulders. And look out for the wide variety of bird life including fish eagles, kingfishers and herons.
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