About 100 km north of Durban, in the area of the Tugela River, the Zulu Kingdom (Zululand) begins. Its territory reaches the border with Swaziland. This is what remains of the once mighty Zulu empire, ruled by the famous leader Chaka. In the first half of the XIX century. Zulu influence extended to the entire territory of Natal, half of the future Boer republics of the Transvaal and Orange, a significant part of Mozambique and the Cape Province.
Chakaland, the most famous of the local ethnographic villages. A kind of local tourist Mecca. It was built for the filming of the serial film “Zulu Chaka”. Then the scenery was turned into a tourist attraction. Chakaland is located on the Entombeni hills, which offer a beautiful view of Lake Umhlatuze. A visit to a village usually begins with a movie. Then a Zulu guide dressed in skins will tell you in English about the life of the Zulus and their traditions. For example, a white and red flag over a hut means that the person living here is… in love. White is a symbol of purity, red is that love must be fought for. You can see the smoky dwelling of the shaman – sangoma.
Visiting the leader, they offer to drink a local pivatsvala (this brew has no taste), after which dancing folklore follows. In Chakaland, you can stay in a cottage stylized as a round Zulu roundwell hut. There are about fifty of them. Houses with all conveniences, category 4 *. There is a swimming pool, a panoramic restaurant overlooking the lake. The complex is part of the South African hotel group Protea Hotel.
Reed Dance (umhlanga). This festival takes place every year in September at the royal residence of Kwanong-goma, about 300 km from Chakaland. Married girls from all over the kingdom gather for it. Gradually undressing in the dance, they present themselves to the suitors. Each girl brings a branch of cane to the king, symbolizing the unity of the Zulu. Nandi is considered a historical place – the Great kraal of Chaka near Lake Umshlatuse. The mother of the king, Princess Nandi, lived here. The decisive battles of the Anglo-Boer War took place in these places. Here the lifting of the siege of Ladysmith by the Boers showed that their previous defeat at the Kimberley was the beginning of the decline of the Boers’ military happiness. In excursion routes, this topic is not left without attention.
Elephant coast. Now the Elephant Coast, and earlier Maputaland, starts from the Indian Ocean at the mouth of the Umfolozi River and extends north to Mozambique, and west to the Lebombo mountains. Tropical and subtropical climatic zones meet here and several ecosystems coexist: dry and wet savannahs, river deltas and tropical forests.
Lake Saint Lucia. So this lake was named in 1575 by a Portuguese sailor who escaped from a shipwreck. Surrounding the lake is the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The depth of the lake does not exceed two meters, which, however, is enough for pleasure boats. There are especially many hippos and exotic birds here. The latter arrange their nests right on the reed stalks. Sea fish enter the lake through a narrow isthmus for spawning. Interesting souvenirs can be bought at the St. Lucia street market, which is opposite the gas station in the city center.
Almost in the center of the city there is Seasands Lodge & Garden Cottages 3 * aparthotel, two-story houses of which are literally immersed in greenery. His apartments have everything you need.
On the ocean coast in these places you can see the world’s highest ” wandering” dunes. Near the Shlusluwe River, the Umfolozi/Hluhluwe combined reserve is located near the borders of Swaziland and covers an area of more than 100,000 hectares. This is the first National Park in South Africa (1897). And the name was given to him by the river Shlyushlyuve, which flows here. Rhinos, lions, elephants, cheetahs, leopards, buffaloes live here…
Near Umfolozi / Hluhluwe there are many private reserves with excellent lodges, one of which is Phinda Mountain Lodge 5 *. Animals live here in the neighborhood with tourists, so in the dark, movement is allowed only with an escort. The golden beaches of Sodwana Bay are one of the most attractive places on the South African coast of the Indian Ocean. Here are the southernmost coral reefs on the planet. Therefore, Sodwana Bay is very fond of divers. There is also excellent fishing. The largest fish in South Africa was caught here. Merlans, sharks and tuna are caught here. The best time for fishing is from November to June.
Reserves of Natal
How to get there: flight to Durban, then transfer from three to five hours depending on the place or flight to Richards Bay, then transfer from 30 min. up to 2.5 hours. Duration of stay: from two nights for the simply curious to two weeks for lovers of real African subtropics.