Better known as Zululand for much of its history, KwaZulu-Natal is South Africa’s most eastern coastal province. It rubs shoulders with Mozambique, Eswatini (Swaziland), and Lesotho, alongside the historic Dutch heartland of Free State province and Eastern Cape province’s Xhosa tribal heritage, which included Nelson Mandela among its number.
Rich in tourist sites as a result, KwaZulu-Natal can be thought of as a South Africa in miniature. Nicknamed ‘the garden province,’ its Midlands region offers up an extraordinary landscape of rolling hills dotted with local artisans’ workshops.
Elsewhere, iSimangaliso Wetland Park is one of the province’s two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Its name comes from the Zulu for ‘something wondrous,’ and nowhere has been better named, given its amazing mix of marine and land mammals, coral reefs, desert dunes, and subtropical forest. It also incorporates Sondwana Bay National Park.
KwaZulu-Natal’s second World Heritage Site, uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park protects the most dramatic and awe-inspiring sections of the Drakensburg mountains, whose hiking opportunities are only rivalled by its blissful vistas and epic sunsets.
History buffs will surely fall for the tales that accompany the key battlefields of the Anglo-Zulu War: Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, the latter immortalized in the Michael Caine movie Zulu.
Nor will animal lovers visiting KwaZulu-Natal leave disappointed. Manyoni Private Game Reserve (sometimes still known by its former moniker of Zululand Rhino Reserve) hosts all the Big Five species, including both black and white rhino, alongside much-loved species such as giraffe, hippo, impala, and kudu.
Finally, there’s Durban, KwaZulu-Natal’s largest city. Hugging an area of Indian Ocean coastline blessed with golden sand beaches stretching for miles, its South Africa’s beach resort of choice, but also has a charming center packed with historic buildings.