I lived for a while in the Cape and I must agree it is truly beautiful and full of life but not the be all and end all to South Africa, come on now. I keep reading articles expounding the virtues of the Cape and Cape Town in particular so much so that it made me stir my stumps to let you all in on my little secret… There is more to South Africa than Cape Town!
I live in KwaZulu Natal the garden province of South Africa, a subtropical region of lush hills and valleys, and a coastline washed by the warm Indian Ocean.
I think Hillcrest which is just outside Durban, and where I live, must have just about the most perfect climate I have encountered anywhere. We get weather but only of the moderate type here no frost but it can snow on the mountains just an hour away, mainly sunny days but without the coastal humidity during the hottest months. Believe it or not but we can see the sea from up here and it’s only a 40 minute drive down the hill. We enjoy cool nights after even in the hottest days and our gardens abound with everything from
aloes to azaleas and pansies to palm trees, a delight to any garden lover. Doesn’t it sound great to you too? But I have only told you about Hillcrest which is almost a suburb of Durban so let’s look a bit further afield to Durban and KwaZulu Natal the province.
Although the smallest of South Africa’s provinces I believe KZN has much more diversity to offer than all the rest put together, maybe I’m biased – find out for yourself.
Let’s start with Durban a bustling city port with a delightful mix of architecture; in fact people come from all over the world just to see its beautifully kept art deco buildings, apparently the best outside Florida! I certainly have my favourite streets in Musgrave which I always detour along.
Further afield we have not one but two World Heritage sites of outstanding natural beauty; iSimangaliso Wetland Park and uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park.
http://www.southafrica.info succinctly says of iSimangaliso “… Here, and nowhere else in the world, can one find hippopotamuses, crocodiles and sharks sharing the same waters.” iSimangaliso’s wide variety of ecosystems and natural habitats provide for an amazing diversity of species in the area.
With its lakes, lagoons, freshwater swamps and grasslands, iSimangaliso supports more species of animal than the better-known and much larger Kruger National Park and the Okavango Delta including the country’s largest population of hippos and crocodiles, giant Leatherback turtles, black rhino, leopards, and a vast array of bird and marine life.
According to Living Lakes, more than 530 species of birds use the wetland and other areas of the Lake St Lucia region. These waters are also graced by 20,000 greater flamingos, 40,000 lesser flamingoes, as well as thousands of ducks and with 36 species of amphibians, the highest diversity in South Africa.
If the hasn’t blown you away yet, hang on we’re only warming up.
The uKhahlamba (barrier of spears) Drakensberg Park, has Africa’s highest mountain range south of Kilimanjaro. “The site’s diversity of habitats protects 2 153 plant species, endemic and globally threatened. The park is also home to 299 recorded bird species and among the park’s 48 species of mammal are the threatened eland and endemic grey rhebuck. For more than 4 000 years these mountains were home to the indigenous San people, who created the largest and most concentrated collection of rock art in Africa. Dating back about 2 400 years there are some 600 sites with collectively 35 000 individual images in the Drakensberg. The artists used clay, burnt wood and ochre oxides to paint images that have lasted longer than anything we have painted since, I think.
You will also find the world’s second-highest waterfall in the Drakensberg. With a drop of 947 metres, the Tugela Falls, are easily viewed from the main road after heavy rains and great for ice climbing in winter!
But we are not content with astounding beauty alone, the Zulu Kingdom also offers culture to our visitor in the form of anything from a cultural village sleep over where you can absorb Zulu history and lifestyle, to arts and crafts at sophisticated galleries and art shops. Country studios in the Midlands can be visited on one of four art trails and enthusiastic roadside vendors everywhere sell anything from wire toys of animals, people, musical instruments and bicycles to traditional clay pots and carvings. Zulu beading has also exploded into a huge international industry. Where they were once made from organic materials like seeds, seashells, ivory and animal teeth, now glass beads can be found on anything from cutlery to clothing. I love it to pieces.
Still on the cultural trail we have an area called Battlefields where you can listen to our storytellers take you back to the many historic battles that have been fought, from the Battle of Isandlwana to the siege of Ladysmith or Rorke’s Drift where soldier bravery earned the greatest number of Victoria Crosses ever awarded at a single battle and was recreated in the famous motion picture “Zulu” featuring Michael Caine
The countryside hasn’t changed much in KwaZulu Natal from the days of King Shaka so you can savor the whole bush atmosphere while looking for the really wild animals in a BIG 5 conservancy or a Reserve teeming with wildlife waiting for you to fid them. Sounds easy until you try it but with luck you will be able to see: White and Black Rhino, Elephant, Buffalo, Giraffe, Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Antelope you might even be lucky enough to catch a the predators like the Lion, Leopard, and hyena especially if you go with a Ranger as they are brilliant at knowing where the animals are hiding out and can tell you all the interesting stuff. To be different you could join a Rhino Darting Safari or an Elephant Back Safari to really see the bush from a different perspective
So much to do! Have you the time to do it?
There are golf courses, horse trails, scenic self-drives, trout streams for fishing, mountain climbing and abseiling activities. City cycle tours, crocodile farms, diamond tours and for the Rufty Tufty even a four by four ride up the Sani Pass to the highest pub!
So do you believe me now? There is a whole lot more than the Cape and I really enjoy everything that KwaZulu Natal has to offer so why not treat yourself – Come and enjoy the best of South Africa all found in its tiniest province KwaZulu Natal. Join me on my Beach Bush and Berg Painting Holidays or adventure on your own, whatever, just get yourself here and see for yourself that I tell no lie when I say this province has been seriously overlooked.
“Draw as often as you can”
Thanks to Andrew James A&I March 2006 for this great tip.
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