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Rising from a steamy Indian Ocean coastline to the chilly heights of the 3,000-plus-metre uKhahlamba-Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal is the most ecologically and scenically diverse of South Africa’s nine provinces
Despite being one of the smaller provinces in South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal's wealth and variety of attractions is sufficient to keep you busy for weeks. Its urban centrepiece is Durban, which doubles as the busiest port in Africa.
This fun-filled beachfront city is steeped in cosmopolitan Zulu, Indian and British heritages. Stretching on either side of Durban, a beautiful 800-kilometre-long coastline incorporates dozens of low-key beach resorts as well as a primal mosaic of forested dunes, idyllic estuaries, hippo-infested lakes and offshore coral reefs protected in the iSimangaliso (St Lucia) Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A province I never tire of exploring. I've driven through a dozen of its game reserves, hiked several of the more popular day walks in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg, eaten sumptuous prawns on Durban waterfront, and snorkelled offshore of iSimangaliso, and there's barely a place I wouldn’t happily revisit tomorrow!
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KwaZulu-Natal's second UNESCO World Heritage Site is uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, which runs for hundreds of kilometres along the Lesotho border, breached only by a solitary, winding Sani Pass. Renowned for its inexhaustible wealth of scenic day walks and more challenging overnight hikes, uKhahlamba-Drakensberg is one of the world's greatest alfresco art galleries, containing around 500 ancient rock art sites filled with half a million paintings.
For wildlife lovers, the province incorporates more than 50 protected areas, ranging from Big Five reserves such as Hluhluwe–Imfolozi and Phinda to the coastal and mist-belt forests of Dhlinza and Oribi Gorge. Cultural and historic sites include the fascinating Zulu cultural experience offered at Shakaland (built on the site of the original kraal of King Shaka); Anglo-Zulu and Anglo-Boer battle sites such as Spioenkop and Rorke’s Drift; and the earliest-known evidence of systematic counting in the form of a 35,000-year-old notched baboon fibula unearthed at Border Cave on the Swaziland border.
KwaZulu-Natal's location on Google Maps