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No culture is static, especially in Africa where traditional life is constantly under threat from modernisation. Despite this, in the rural area of KwaZulu-Natal generally known as ?Zululand?, many cultural practices remain intact and there are sites of great cultural significance to be explored.

It can sometimes be difficult to experience traditional culture first hand. However, one way to do this is to visit one of the many cultural villages, or what are often referred to as ?living museums?. At places such as Shakaland, Dumazulu or Simunye, it is possible to catch a glimpse of a lifestyle and traditions that are slowly transforming. Here you can sleep over in a traditional Zulu homestead, sample traditional Zulu cuisine and Nqombothi (Zulu beer), and visit a traditional healer who can also take you for a walk to teach you something about the many fascinating medicinal plants still used by a vast majority of rural South Africans.

eMakhosini, (which literally means the ?Valley of the Chiefs?), lies southwest of Ulundi, one of the biggest towns in the region.? The graves and royal residences of four Zulu kings, Shaka, Dingane, Mpande and Cetswayo, who ruled in succession from 1816 ? 1884, are located in and around eMakhosini, as are the great, royal Zulu homesteads of Ondini, Nodwengu, KwaDukuza and uMgungundlovu. Some of these residences were razed to the ground by the British Imperial forces, but have been restored and developed, have museums and guides, and are now accessible to visitors.

eMakhosini also has ties with the Voortrekkers. Voortrekker leader, Piet Retief, lies buried in the valley at kwaMatiwane, the Hill of Execution, and there are graves and monuments that, with the help of a good guide, can provide fascinating and enlightening insights into modern South African society and politics.

While much of a visit to Zululand is about discovering South Africa?s history and cultural heritage, there are also many lovely, eccentric small villages. Eshowe has a canopy boardwalk through the Dlinza Forest and the excellent art and craft centre at Fort Nonqayi. In the little coastal town of Mtunzini, wander through one of the last remaining protected stands of Raffia palms and possibly spot a rare palm nut vulture.???

Zululand is the place to go on safari as it is home to some of the country?s finest game reserves, such as Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, Ithala, Opathe, Thula Thula, Thanda and the Zululand Rhino Reserve. Herds of plains game grazing under umbrella acacias and antelope skittering across a dusty pan, hippo honking in the waterways and pans, giraffe silhouetted against the setting sun and the smell of the African bush in the early hours of the morning are typically what one can expect on a visit to Zululand.

There are airports at both Ulundi and the coastal town of Richards Bay serving this area.

Email :taita@uthungulu.co.za
Enquiry Email :taita@uthungulu.co.za
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Fax :035 789 8176
Originally part of a land grant to European farmers in 1885 by King Dinizulu, Babanango remains a centre of agriculture and is ideally situated for visitors wanting to explore the Zululand and the Battlefields Route.

The name Babanango translates as 'Father there it is' - indicating the high hill which is a landmark of the area.

In 1851, the Norwegian Missionary Society established a station on the banks of the Mpangeni River. The river was named after the profusion of Mpange trees growing along its banks, and the settlement that formed around the station took the slightly Anglicised name of the river.

Empangeni is a thriving, friendly Zululand town in the beautiful surroundings of the Mpangeni Valley.

Empangeni Art & Cultural Museum
A fascinating museum boasting regular temporary exhibitions and a permanent display including Zulu heritage art and the Harrison collection of the pioneer sugar farmers.

A small village near Empangeni housing a sugar mill labour force. The sugar mill here is one of the largest in the country.

Eshowe's cool, elevated position on a hilltop overlooking the hot and humid Zululand coastal plain gives the town its serenity, but the Dlinza Forest around which the town wraps itself, gives Eshowe it soul.
Gingindlovu, in the Zululand area of KwaZulu-Natal owes its origins to the military headquarters established in the mid-1800s by the future Zulu king Cetshwayo, following his triumph against his brothers in a bloody battle for succession at Ndondakusuka. Cetshwayo named his headquarters Gingindlovu, or Swallower of the Elephant for it was said that by defeating his brothers - Prince Mbulazi in particular- he had eaten up the greatest opponent to his ambitions.

To the British soldiers who fought two major battles against King Cetshwayo's army at Gingindlovu 20 years later during the Anglo Zulu War, the village was known fondly as 'Gin, gin, I love you'.

Many private game farms, hunting lodges and safari guides operate from this magnet for international trophy collectors. Magudu is also the site of a historical village that was once home to Magudu, the Zulu rain queen.

When the British government annexed Zululand in 1887 and established several magisterial districts, it was decided to administer that of Mthonjaneni from a town named after the resident commissioner - Sir Melmoth Osborn.

Melmoth is situated in a lush green mist belt 800m above sea-level. Melmoth is a long established trading and agricultural centre, with an emphasis on timber. The area embraces one of the largest conservancies in KwaZulu-Natal, plus a major bird sanctuary of the Zululand Birding Route.

The Zulu word "emthunzini" means "a place in the shade" but in the history of this beautiful small coastal town it refers specifically to the place under the milkwood trees near the Umlalazi River where the White Zulu chief John Dunn, would meet with the tribal elders of the area.

Visiting this Zululand town today gives exactly that feeling - a place in the shade.
Blessed with a sub-tropical climate (humid summers and mild winters) and a high annual rainfall, Mtunzini - or The Village, as the locals often refer to it - boasts a clean, safe, peaceful and abundant environment with a stunning outlook over the Umlalazi Nature Reserve and the sea.

Nongoma KwaZulu-Natal, considered one of the busiest little towns in rural KwaZulu-Natal, lies north west of Hluhluwe and is fast becoming a major tourist attraction, thanks to King Goodwill Zwelithini who makes Nongoma his home.

Derived from the Zulu word, "ngome" - the mother of songs - Nongoma was originally established in 1888 as a buffer between two warring Zulu factions to try to establish peace in the area. Today, the hereditary leader of Zululand has his royal palaces here and has opened these to the public. Local businessman, Mlungisi Percy Nzuza who owns Nongoma Lodge, is a driving force behind local tourism in the town and arranges dinners at which members of the royal family appear to chat informally to visitors about the Royal House and the traditions of the Zulu people.

Paulpietersburg is a small, pretty town nestling in the foothills of the Dumbe Mountain - a big, flat-topped, triangular mountain in the middle of flatlands territory, popular with paragliders and hikers and named after the wild dumbe fruit which grows on its slopes.

Paulpietersburg is also on the Rainbow Route, an alternative means of reaching the coast that starts in Mpumalanga and passes through Paulpietersburg, Vryheid, Melmoth, and Piet Retief and ends in the town of Mtunzini. Paulpietersburg is only 3.5 hours' drive from Johannesburg and Durban and popular with visitors because of the nine hot and cold mineral water pools at the Natal Spa just 9 km outside of town. The spa is fed by a natural, hot spring that surfaces on the southern approaches to the 1 536m Dumbe Mountain.

Pongola is a small town situated in northern KwaZulu-Natal Province, only 10 kilometres from the Swaziland border. Pongola has 50 km? of sugarcane and subtropical fruit plantations surrounding it. During the Depression years of the 1930s, drastic irrigation systems were started in Pongola. The town of Pongola thrived as a result of the canal system and a sugar mill that was built.

Considered as the jewel of Kwa-Zulu Natal, uPhongolo or Pongola is now said to be "Right at the Heart of the Zulu Kingdom". Road access to the area is via the N2 from Gauteng and Natal and the Golela Border post from Swaziland - a major gateway to the area for foreign visitors traveling south from the Kruger Park. Distances from all major centers are: Johannesburg 420km, Durban 380km and 270km south of the southern gates of the Kruger National Park.

Richards Bay
Richards Bay was named after British naval commander Rear Admiral Sir Frederick William Richards, who landed troops on the Zululand coast in 1879, this was a small fishing village until the port was opened in 1976. Richards Bay now boasts the largest export coal terminal in the world - loading 65 million tons every year - and the specialised ships that call are a must-see for maritime buffs. The enormous operations of Richards Bay Minerals top the list of industrial tourism opportunities for the curious-minded.
Situated in the heart of the old Zulu kingdom and current KwaZulu-Natal Zululand region, which lost its independence to Colonial expansionism in the late 19th century, Ulundi is near the site of King Cetshwayo's royal settlement razed to the ground after the final battle of the Anglo-Zulu War.
Vryheid was once the capital of the Nieuwe Republiek, and incorporated into the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek in 1884. Vryheid (Freedom) became a focal point for German immigration which continues to inform this modern progressive town. Many examples of Tudor and Edwardian architecture stand among the numerous historic landmarks of Vryheid.