KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) is often considered to be the playground of South Africa due to its convenient proximity to Gauteng and its wonderful, year round weather. For the Sun Seekers it has miles and miles of stunning beaches as well as countless little coastal towns and hamlets offering an enormous range of accommodation. Something to suit every taste.
KZN has everything a visitor could want - wonderful outdoor sporting activities including any possible water-sport imaginable, mountains to climb, hikes to finish, parachuting and paragliding, canoeing, mountain-biking, wonderful golf courses - the list goes on and on....!!
There are two World Heritage sites in KZN. One is iSimangeliso Wetlands Park - north of Durban - which features Africa's largest estuarine system, three lakes, eight ecosystems and wonderful fish and birdlife. There are over 500 different bird species to be found here as well as some of the highest sand dunes in the world.
The other is the Drakensberg mountain chain which forms the border between South Africa and the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. Here you will find the highest pass in Southern Africa - the Sani Pass - which is much loved by 4x4 enthusiasts.
The coast north of Durban also offers some of the finest scuba diving sites in Southern Africa and people flock here from all over the world. There is the annual sardine run up the KZN coast in June or July which is an experience those who witness it will never forget. The shoal of these small fish stretches for kilometres and is followed by a host of predators. They also wash up on the beaches and are collected by the frenzied public.
There is loads to keep the History Buffs happy - from the battlefield sites all over the KZN interior to the mix of cultures - Indian, British colonial and Zulu - occurring throughout the province. There are hundreds of caves with countless San paintings depicting life in this region thousands of years ago.
Also inland are the beautiful farming communities of the KZN Midlands - with green fields disappearing into the distance as far as the eye can see. Cosy country hotels, relaxing spas, welcoming pubs and craft breweries are all to be found here.
- warm, sunny weather
- wonderful beaches washed over by the warm Indian Ocean
- the game reserves north of Durban
- Durban curries - the best in the land
- the Drakensberg mountains: haunting in summer, snow-covered in winter
- the historical battlefields areas
- iSimangeliso Wetlands Park
- the Midlands meander
- uShaka Marine World in Durban
- the monument outside Howick on the site where Nelson Mandela was captured by the South African government security forces.
The Portuguese were the first known Europeans to encounter what is now called KwaZulu-Natal when explorer Vasco da Gama saw the coast of Natal on Christmas Day 1497. "Natal" is the Portuguese word for Christmas which gave rise to the European name for the region.
The first European settlers, mostly British, established Port Natal, a trading post. They made almost no attempt to develop the interior, whose inhabitants had been decimated by the Zulu chief Shaka.
The Afrikaner Voortrekkers entered the area via the Drakensberg mountain passes in 1837. These Afrikaners defeated the Zulus at the Battle of Blood River in 1838 and thereafter established the Republic of Natal. Thus, the territory was once part of a short-lived Boer republic between 1839 and 1843 until its annexation by Britain. Many Afrikaner inhabitants left for the interior after the annexation and were replaced by immigrants, mainly from Great Britain.
From 1860 onward, increasing numbers of Indians were brought in by the British mainly to work in the sugar plantations on the coast. The colony acquired Zululand (the area north of the Tugela River) after the Zulu War of 1879. The lands north of the Buffalo River were added in 1902. Boer forces entered the area during the South African War (1899 to 1902) – also known as the second Boer War – and laid siege to Ladysmith. They failed to build on their initial advantage and for three months the line between the opposing forces followed the course of the Tugela River.
In 1910, the colony became a province of the Union of South Africa and in 1961 of the Republic of South Africa.
When the homeland of KwaZulu, which means "Place of the Zulu" was re-incorporated into the Natal province after the end of apartheid in 1994, the province of Natal, which had existed between 1910 and 1994, was renamed KwaZulu-Natal. This province is home to the Zulu monarchy and the majority population and language of the province is Zulu.
KwaZulu-Natal has a very varied climate thanks to diverse, complex topography. Generally, the coastal region is subtropical with the inland regions becoming progressively colder.
Durban, on the south coast, has an annual rainfall of just over 1 000 mm, with daytime maximum temperatures from January to March peaking at around 28 °C (82 °F) with a minimum of 21 °C (70 °F). From June to August the maximum temperatures reach around 23 °C (73 °F) with an average minimum of around 11 °C (52 °F).
Temperatures drop towards the hinterland with Pietermaritzburg being similar to the coastal region in the summer, but much cooler in the winter. Ladysmith in the Tugela River Valley reaches 30 °C (86 °F) in the summer, but may drop below freezing point on winter evenings.
The Drakensberg can experience heavy winter snows, with light snow occasionally experienced on the highest peaks in summer. The Zululand north coast has the warmest climate and the highest humidity, supporting many sugar cane farms around the Pongola area.