If you are looking for a destination that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and wildlife, look no further than the Zululand region in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Stretching up to Richard’s Bay along the north coast of KwaZulu Natal and extending inland into the rural heart of KwaZulu Natal, this malaria-free area is home to some of the most picturesque landscapes in the country.
Zululand is often associated with peaceful green hills, waving grasslands, abundant forests, and an unhurried lifestyle. It is also steeped in the rich symbolism and tradition of the Zulu nation, which fought for this land. Visitors are invited into the heart of Zulu villages like Shakaland and Dumazulu, where they can learn about the age-old Zulu culture, visit a sangoma, witness a rural wedding ceremony, and experience Zulu hospitality. For history buffs, uMgungundlovu, the capital of King Dingane, offers a glimpse into life during the Zulu Kingdom.
But the highlight of the region is undoubtedly the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve, the oldest game reserve in Africa. This reserve, located in the heart of Zululand, is home to Africa’s “Big Five” – lions, elephants, leopards, buffalos, and rhinoceros. Zulu kings like Dingiswayo and Shaka once hunted here and implemented the first conservation laws in Africa. Today, visitors can go on a safari and witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
Aside from the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve, there are several other nature reserves and parks in the region, including the Siyaya Coastal Park, the Umlalazi Nature Reserve, and the Amatikulu Nature Reserve. These areas are dedicated to conservation and are home to a variety of wildlife, including rare and endangered species.
For bird enthusiasts, the Zululand Birding Route is a must-visit destination. With over 650 species of birds, this route offers an incredible diversity of bird species, and there are over 30 local guides and a series of useful brochures and information packs linking the top 70 birding spots in the area on 14 local routes. Dlinza, one of the most beautiful forests of Zululand, lies in the Dlinza Nature Reserve close to Eshowe, one of the finest places to spot birds, hike and see wild fig and African plum trees.
The Zululand region of KwaZulu-Natal offers visitors a unique blend of history, culture, and wildlife. From the age-old Zulu culture to the oldest game reserve in Africa and the Zululand Birding Route, there is something for everyone. So, book your hotel or accommodation in Zululand and explore the attractions, activities, and things to do when you visit this beautiful region.
Amazulu Game Reserve
The Zululand region of South Africa offers a variety of tourist destinations and points of interest, including the town of Empangeni. Located about 160 km from Durban on the R34 just off the N2, Empangeni is situated in the hilly countryside of the Uthungulu district. The town is known for its sugarcane plantations and hot, sticky, languid days. It is also only 15 km away from Richards Bay on the coast, and together with several other towns, they make up the City of uMhlathuze.
Empangeni has a rich history that dates back to the Norwegian Mission station established near the eMpangeni stream. The mission was later moved to Eshowe, but a magistracy was established in Empangeni in 1894. The town’s name comes from the Zulu word ‘pangaed,’ meaning ‘grabbed,’ which is thought to refer to the number of crocodile attacks on water bearers in the nearby eMpangeni stream.
Despite its development into a modern town, Empangeni has retained its small town charm and friendly locals in true Zululand style. Visitors can explore the town’s heritage at the Empangeni Museum, which features exhibits on the history of early sugar pioneers and local Zulu cultural and contemporary art displays. Golf enthusiasts can enjoy the impressive 18-hole Empangeni Golf Course, while nature lovers can explore the Enseleni Nature Reserve, located about 13 km north of Empangeni. This reserve offers a 7km hiking trail through the local animal life, including zebra and impala, and several picnic spots.
Empangeni is also the gateway to the Hluhluwe and Umfolozi reserves, making it an ideal stopover before venturing further afield. With its subtropical climate, Empangeni is a perfect destination to visit throughout the year. However, visitors should come prepared with sunscreen as temperatures can rise to as high as 45° Celsius, combined with the notorious humidity of the region.
Located in northern Zululand, Gingindlovu is a town steeped in history and natural beauty. Its name, meaning “swallower of the Elephant” in Zulu, refers to the victory of Cetshwayo over his brother Mbulazi for the Zulu throne. The town is also a site of the 1879 battle between the British forces and Cetshwayo’s army, a conflict that left a significant mark on the colonial map.
Despite its tumultuous past, Gingindlovu is now a tranquil destination that offers visitors an array of natural wonders to explore. The town is just a short drive from Eshowe, where visitors can experience the fascinating history and culture of the Zulu people at the Fort Nongqayi Museum Village.
One of the main attractions near Gingindlovu is the Amatikulu Game Reserve, a place where visitors can view wildlife feeding on forested dunes overlooking the sea. The reserve is a haven for birdwatchers, with a diverse array of birdlife to spot, along with larger animals like giraffe, zebra, waterbuck, and smaller antelope. The reserve is also a popular fishing destination, and canoeing on the Amatikulu Estuary is a wonderful way to experience the beauty of the reserve.
For those who enjoy hiking and nature walks, Gingindlovu is surrounded by two beautiful indigenous forests: Dlinza and Entumeni. Both forests are renowned for their bird and plant life, with hikers hoping to catch glimpses of rare species that occur in the forests. While hiking the trails during the heat of summer can offer a cool respite, visitors should be prepared for steep terrain, especially in the case of Entumeni forest. However, the reward for the effort can be sightings of the elusive blue duiker and bushbuck, as well as the rare Miller’s Tiger moth, thought to have been extinct until its recent rediscovery in the grasslands of the Entumeni Forest.
Gingindlovu is a destination that offers a unique combination of history, culture, and natural beauty, making it a must-visit for anyone exploring the Zululand region.
Hlomohlomo, situated in the heart of Zululand, is a hidden gem that offers visitors a unique blend of natural beauty, history, and cultural experiences. The town is surrounded by rolling hills, including the Makowane and Mathanga hills, and the majestic Dlomodlomo Mountain. These hills and mountains provide a picturesque backdrop for hiking, mountain biking, and birdwatching.
Hlomohlomo is steeped in history and is home to several museums and cultural attractions. Visitors can explore the Hlomohlomo Palace, a historical site that served as the home of King Dingane, the Zulu king who famously defeated the British at the Battle of Isandlwana. The palace offers visitors a glimpse into the life of the Zulu royal family and the traditions and customs of the Zulu people.
The Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve, one of South Africa’s oldest game reserves, is located just a short drive from Hlomohlomo. This reserve is home to the Big Five, as well as a variety of other wildlife, including cheetahs, hyenas, and wild dogs. Visitors can take guided game drives and bush walks to explore the reserve and spot some of Africa’s most iconic animals.
For those interested in culture, Hlomohlomo is home to several traditional Zulu villages where visitors can experience the daily life of the Zulu people. Visitors can participate in traditional Zulu ceremonies, sample local cuisine, and purchase handmade crafts and souvenirs.
Hlomohlomo is also located within easy driving distance of several other popular tourist destinations in KwaZulu-Natal. The historic city of Pietermaritzburg, with its Victorian architecture and botanical gardens, is just a short drive away. The coastal towns of Richards Bay, Port Shepstone, and Margate offer stunning beaches, water sports, and a variety of restaurants and shops.
Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or the great outdoors, Hlomohlomo and the surrounding Zululand region offer something for everyone.
The Zululand Region is rich in history and culture, with a plethora of tourist destinations and places of interest. Isandlwana, a prominent historical site, is located in the region, just southeast of Rorke’s Drift and about 170 kilometers north of Durban.
Isandlwana Hill is an isolated hill that was the site of the Battle of Isandlwana on 22 January 1879. The battle was one of the most significant defeats suffered by the British Army at the hands of a native army, and it remains a significant event in South African history. The hill is marked with white boulders that serve as graves for the soldiers who lost their lives during the battle.
Today, Isandlwana Hill appears peaceful, with its lush greenery and serene landscape. However, a guided tour of the area can give visitors a chilling account of the events that occurred on that fateful day. Visitors can join a Battlefield Tour in KwaZulu-Natal to learn about the Battle of Isandlwana and other significant battles in the region. Experienced guides provide a detailed and often shocking account of the battles, making the tours fascinating and informative.
The Zulu forces, under Dabulamanzi kaMpande, completely overwhelmed the British forces during the battle. The British had underestimated the Zulu forces, and their spread too thin and lack of ammunition led to their defeat. The battle is a significant reminder of the brutal history of the region and the struggles faced by the indigenous peoples during colonization.
Apart from the Battlefields, the Zululand Region has other exciting tourist destinations, such as the charming town of Hlomohlomo. The town is situated among the farms of the province, in the scenic hills and mountains of Zululand. The area is home to many rolling hills, including Makowane and Mathanga, and the Dlomodlomo Mountain. The town is a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts who want to explore the African landscapes and drink in gorgeous views.
Nearby towns and cities in the Zululand Region include Pietermaritzburg, Richards Bay, Port Shepstone, and Margate, all offering their unique attractions and points of interest. With its rich history, culture, and heritage, the Zululand Region remains a top tourist destination for visitors from all over the world.