KwaZulu Natal forms South Africa’s east coast, stretching from Port Edward in the south, to the Mozambique boundary in the north.
From its early days, the province has been the scene of many fierce battles – being the bone of contention between the Zulus and the Voortrekkers, the British Empire and Boer settlers (Anglo-Boer War) and the Zulus and the British Empire. The KwaZulu Natal coast has one of the greatest harbours on the African continent, Durban, which geographically divides the North and South Coasts. Visitors to KwaZulu Natal can either disembark from Durban International Airport or the Durban harbour, or make use of the extensive national road network.
The province has three different geographic areas: the lowland region along the Indian Ocean coast, plains in the central section and two mountainous areas, the Drakensberg Mountains in the west and the Lebombo Mountains in the north. The Tugela River flows west to east across the center of the province.
Average temperatures in the province range from 17°C to 28°C from October to April, and from 11°C to 25°C in the colder months. Annual rainfall is about 690mm, falling throughout the year.
On the east coast of KwaZulu Natal lies the lively and exciting city of Durban, South Africa’s third largest city. Durban Metro is Africa’s ultimate coastal playground in the sun! It is a sophisticated cosmopolitan city of over three million people – a city where east meets west. Durban is Africa’s largest and busiest port and the economic powerhouse of the Zulu Kingdom, boasting investment opportunities around every corner.
Durban is an exciting city in which to play, shop, experience the nightlife and relax. It’s a city in which business and debate issues, which have far-reaching effects, not only in Africa but way beyond its borders, are discussed. The world-class International Convention Centre has hosted an historic line-up of events including conferences of a global scale.
Leisure facilities abound, Durban is filled with tourist attractions. Visit uShaka Marine World, Wilson’s Wharf on the Victoria Embankment and the nearby BAT centre. Enjoy fine and traditional dining, entertainment and shopping in scenic surroundings. Shop till you drop in modern shopping malls. Grey Street and the Warwick Triangle boast vibrant local shops and markets. Beachfront stalls sell traditional arts and crafts. Enjoy the excellent entertainment on offer at the city’s theatres and clubs or take a township tour in a local taxi.
If it’s peace and sheer beauty you are after, make a beeline for one of Durban’s many nature sanctuaries or parks. The Botanical Gardens offers so much more than breathtaking flora and birdlife. Ask about their ‘Music by the Lake’ evenings where you can enjoy wonderful music played by KZN’s Philharmonic Orchestra in wondrous surroundings.
Durban’s beaches are characterised by soft, golden sand, palm trees and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. The main beaches are shark netted and patrolled from sunrise to sunset by trained lifeguards who have an impressive track record in beach safety. The main beaches also have change and shower facilities as well as an array of fast-food outlets, restaurants and bars. Sail, swim, run, and play tennis or alternatively stroll along or relax on the sun-drenched beaches and watch the world go by.
As a traveller, backpacker or tourist, arriving in South Africa for the first time can be quite daunting. To start with, he country has such a diverse history and eclectic assortment of cultures and then there are just so many exciting places to travel to and experience. The country is vast and expansive so be sure to set aside a decent amount of travel time if you really want to explore all it has to offer.
We often receive emails from our subscribers and readers either recommending certain places and establishments or warning others against the. It’s fantastic to get the feedback from you a, it’s always appreciated. We have had several of our subscribers write in to let us know about Skywings Paragliding in Cape Town. I have chosen to mention Arno from the Netherlands account of his experiences. Arno had been travelling South Africa for a little over a month, starting off in Kwazulu Natal making his way down the coast through the Transkei, stopping off at several places on the Garden Route on his way to Cape Town. Arno mentioned all kinds of places he enjoyed including bungy jumping at the Blaauwkrantz bridge and horse riding at Hogs Hollow outside Plettenberg Bay. But for Arno, the most exciting thing he has done so far was paragliding Cape Town. He got the idea whilst enjoying the sun and sea on Camps Bay beach and noticing several paragliders circling high up above in the sky. The thought of the freedom of floating high up in the blue sky against the backdrop of Signal Hill and Lion’s Head was enough for him to find out more about how to go about paragliding in Cape Town. Arno was staying at one of the larger backpackers in the city centre and on asking the staff at the travel center he was handed a brochure for Skywings Paragliding.
Skywings Paragliding is owned by Kay Duran who has over twenty years of experience in aerial based sports and activities. For the extremely reasonable price of just R1150 (One thousand one hundred and fifty South African rand – approximately ninety US Dollars), they offer a tandem paragliding experience that you will not forget in a hurry. Kay has several experienced tandem pilots that he employs to assist with his business. Although the conditions in Cape Town can be difficult sometimes due to the unpredictable winds and weather, Skywings will go out of their way to accommodate you with the best possible options and value for your money. Having read through the brochure and read up all the information on the website, Arno went ahead and made his booking.
“I couldn’t wait to try paragliding over Cape Town. I had watched several YouTube videos and been up to the top of Signal Hill the day before to watch other people launching. I barely slept at all the night before. I woke up early in the morning, praying that the weather conditions would be favourable. I was in luck, the conditions were perfect ! I headed up to the launching site at the designated time to meet up with the guys from Skywings. I have to admit, I was quite nervous. It’s quite different once you are up there in all the gear getting ready to leap off of a mountain top! My tandem pilot set my mind at ease quickly though as his experience and professionalism was conveyed quickly to me in our pre-flight conversation. What can I say ? There is nothing quite like paragliding over Cape Town. I have tried several exciting challenges including bungy jumping and white water rafting whilst in South Africa, but paragliding over Cape Town was absolutely exhilarating. I cannot explain the feeling of floating so high up in sky over the city and the views of the beaches and city below. The experience with Skywings tops the things I have done since being in South Africa by far and would like to recommend the experience to anybody else who is considering it. If you want a professional and safe paragliding experience in Cape Town, go with Skywings.” – Arno Vermaak
As I mentioned earlier, this is not the only recommendation we have had from our readers about Skywings, but it’s the most recent and we felt it’s time we mentioned this Cape Town outfit due to the sheer enthusiasm with which our readers have been mailing us about them.
Walk in the footsteps of famous military strategists – Shaka, Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi and General Louis Botha – they were all here before you. The wind sighs and whispers the secrets and sorrows of great battles, made visible by lone forts and small graveyards on these undulating landscapes ringed with rocky outcrops.
The legacy of our Zulu Kingdom’s critical, blood-soaked conflicts today lives peacefully – reconciled in this fascinating region’s myriad Battlefield sites, historic towns, national monuments and museums – and in Head Quarters of the British regiments who make a ‘pilgrimage’ to these fields of bravery and supreme sacrifice.
Why leave all of this to the imagination? Knowledgeable guides will accompany you on tours of the Battlefields, talking you through each battle, debating the strategies used, the numbers who perished and the medals and rewards won by the brave.
If these legends inspire your adventurous spirit, there are more pleasurable ways of appeasing it than in battle. White water rafting down the rapids of the mighty Tugela, sailing on the Chelmsford Dam, and hunting in the designated hunting reserves – this region offers you all of these pursuits.
Expert shoppers will always find a way to practice their skill at tracking down a good bargain, and this area provides the opportunity at any of the large number of factory outlets selling everything from blown glass to pork sausages and baby products.
The Northern and Central Drakensberg area has some of the most beautiful scenery one could ever imagine. The area falls into four valleys, beginning with the Champagne Valley in the Central Berg, through the Cathedral Peak and Didima Valley, then the Royal Natal National Park and Amphitheatre Valley, and finally the Middledale Pass Valley in the Northern Berg. Each of the four valleys has its own kind of beauty and character, and all have spectacular mountain views.
From the massive basalt cliffs of its northern reaches to the soaring sandstone buttresses in the south, the Berg – as it’s popularly known – offers a myriad delights to anyone of any age who needs to ‘get away from it all’. Peace and quiet is the catchphrase amid this unsurpassed grandeur, where the World’s second-highest waterfall tumbles down a series of breathtaking cascades.
From scenic golf courses, sparkling trout fishing dams and quiet picnic spots, to hiking trails, wildlife and extreme adventure routes at adrenalin-pumping altitudes, the Drakensberg has something for everyone to escape the city and get back to nature in truly majestic surroundings.
The Dolphin Coast, an expanse of magnificent beaches and a panorama of waving sugar cane, stretches across the malaria-free North Coast of KwaZulu Natal from Zimbali in the South to the mighty Tugela in the North. The Dolphin Coast consists of the following towns: Zimbali, Ballito, Thompson’s Bay, Shaka’s Rock, Salt Rock, Sheffield Beach, Umhlali, Tinley Manor, Shakaskraal, Blythedale Beach, Zinkwazi and Kwadaduza/Stanger.
Ballito, the heart of the Dolphin Coast, lies nestled between rippling fields of KwaZulu Natal’s famous Green Gold, sugar cane, and is flanked to the east by golden beaches and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Ballito is the Pearl of the Dolphin Coast. The town’s origins date back to 1953, when a group of entrepreneurs began investigating land to develop a township in the Compensation beach area.
Proclaimed a township in 1954, Ballito, whose name was gleaned from a magazine advertisement meaning Little Ball, became a town board in 1966. The town, which reached borough status in 1986, is well known for its superb, safe beaches.
The Dolphin Coast, as it is so aptly named, is the playground of the bottlenose dolphins, which frolic in the waters close to shore and are visible all year round. The dolphins favour this stretch of coastline because of its relatively clear and shallow waters, allowing the dolphins to swim close to shore in order to feed. Whales can also be spotted on their annual migration to Mozambique for the summer.
For the small price of a licence, which can be purchased at the Natal Sharks Board, you can pick your own mussels off the rocks, collect oysters or bring in fresh crayfish from the Indian Ocean. Ballito’s friendly, village atmosphere is a welcome haven from the fast pace of big city life, yet it offers all modern amenities and services to residents and holiday-makers alike.