A detailed overview Durban's Umhlanga and Umdloti area
Our magnificent Umhlanga and Umdloti Coastline extracts the essence of 'East meets West in the Zulu Kingdom' and presents it for your infinite pleasure in a pristine setting par none. We offer the tempting Buzz of Sibaya Casino and its round-the-clock pursuit of 'Lady Luck'...sweeping golden sands and picture-postcard coves that epitomize luxurious and laid- back Beach lifestyle...enclaves of Bush where bird-life is abundant and small animals peek shyly from behind protected foliage. Traditional Zulu culture naturally abounds, but the Umhlanga Coastline is also steeped in 'settler history', and an important Battlefields site lies an easy drive north. Berg peaks may be something of a stretch, but soaring aloft aboard a microlight should satisfy all cravings for an eagle's- eye view and a hint of danger!
Our inviting slice of paradise has exuded a magnetic quality since time immemorial. Eons ago part of a coastal dune forest, its wild animals were first pursued by the Stone Age, San hunter- gatherers, who sought the pleasures of incredibly mild winters away from their icy mountain caves. They were displaced by the so-called Lala people of the Iron Age...and our fascinating Shell Midden is a fragile, precious asset that bears witness to Umhlanga's long history as popular meeting place. Its name derives from the Nguni-language tribes destined to become the proud Zulu nation, who called this favourite seaside playground 'The Place of Reeds'.
Rivers ran clear and full, pastures were perennially verdant, and while tending to their herds and flocks...the daily sight of frolicking dolphins provided everlasting amusement. This is exactly how the first colonial settlers found it...and how it remains to this day! Umhlanga began earning its modern reputation as a 'home of fine hospitality' in 1869, when tea and scones were first served at a cottage named Oyster Lodge. While it took another half century for the hotel industry to arrive, the 'Place of Reeds' has since flourished without falter...and is today a prime, up-market beach resort boasting a fine array of luxury hotels, B&Bs and self-catering holiday apartments. For a compelling taste of Umhlanga's safe, protected beaches and seafront accommodation, restaurants and attractions, the shore- hugging O'Conner Promenade has no equal. Contrary to appearances - including distance-markers - it's not strictly de rigueur to proceed at jogging pace...a leisurely stroll with occasional viewing- bench stops is quite acceptable! You'll not be able to miss the red and white lighthouse...a landmark that's kept shipping at a safe distance for almost half a century. But don't knock on the door in the hope of meeting an eccentric, reclusive lighthouse-keeper - the fixed beacon is operated by remote control! A little further north is Granny's Pool, a sheltered bathing area between two rock formations that abound in miniature sea-life. While on the subject of marine creatures...our 'rubber-duck' dolphin-viewing excursions are so popular it's advisable to reserve your seats for this 'ultimate experience' as soon as you arrive! Deep-sea whale-watching and game- fishing adventures also lie in store.
Back on land, the O'Conner Promenade ends where the Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve Trail begins...a delightful hour-and-a- half walk among vervet monkeys and small buck. Take your picnic basket and barbeque ingredients for a pleasant half-day outing. Prior arrangements are necessary should you wish to explore the Hawaan Forest a little further afield. This unique, indigenous woodland has remained in its natural state for centuries...its many notable tree species supporting a prolific variety of birds, and sheltering a surprising number of small animals. Contact the local tourism office, too, for a visit to the Umhlanga Ponds - one of the best bird- watching locales anywhere along our northern coast. Come sundowner time, when all these little creatures are tucked safely in their nests, Umhlanga comes alive with the sounds of fine dining, music and assorted revelry. Stylish restaurants, funky taverns and chic nightclubs dot the resort's Mediterranean- style layout...we guarantee you'll be spoiled for choice! Adding to your 'dilemma' are the 26 gaming tables, 800 slot machines, eateries and pubs waiting a few kilometres away at the Sibaya Casino just a few kilometres north of Umhlanga on the M4.
The historic settlement established in 1850 and named after a Cornish earldom - Mt Edgecombe boasts the only estate golf venue in Durban Metro. Nestled among tropical flowering creepers and tall trees, an exquisite Hindu temple gracing the small town's northern perimeter displays our Indian community's pivotal role in shaping the Umhlanga Coastlines unique character. Descended from late 19th century policies of indentured plantation labour and free immigration by merchants and traders, Indian influence is as pronounced on the Umhlanga Coastline as anywhere within Durban Metro...or beyond. And nowhere along our Umhlanga Coastline is this more evident than at nearby Verulam's bustling market. Named in 1850 by Methodist settlers to honour an ancient Roman city in Britain, Verulam is our Zulu Kingdom's third oldest town...filled with elegant homes and other by-gone reminders. For modern pursuits of the aquatic variety, the town's Hazelmere Dam is a delight for watersports enthusiasts of all persuasions.
Tongaat, on the other hand, is a 'one-street' village named after the Zulu word for a variant of the monkey-apple tree. Lush, scenic and culturally rich, Tongaat awarded President Nelson Mandela 'Freedom of the Town' in 1995. Every year in April or May, though - depending on the lunar calendar - the Brake Village Hindu Temple hosts one of Durban Metro's largest Kavady Festivals...a spectacular event not to be missed! To experience African culture, arrange a visit to the adjoining Hambanathi township - its friendly name means 'go with us'.
Heading seawards for the return journey to Umhlanga, Westbrook Beach is shark-netted, while surf fishing is the main pastime along the golden expanses leading to Umdloti. Deriving its name from the Zulu term for a particular species of wild tobacco, this quiet and quaint destination is more 'hide-away' than 'hedonist's heaven'. Luxury simplex units, bungalows and B&Bs are mere steps away from long, undisturbed beach walks...wide lagoon at the river mouth...and a rock- enclosed tidal pool for cooling off in the briny.
En route back to the shopping malls of Umhlanga, why not pay a visit to the tireless folk who ensure that 'Jaws' remains a celluloid nightmare - our dedicated Sharks Board staff. With stunning audio-visual and standing displays, the only organisation of its kind in the world will happily show you everything you always wanted to know about these much-maligned predators. Shark-dissection, on the other hand, may be a little more than you anticipated learning! Join these intrepid guardians of safe swimming for a two-hour 'maintenance check' of Durban Metro shark-nets...you're bound to see playful dolphins and majestic whales on this early-morning adventure.
Sunny skies, warm Indian Ocean waves, beautiful beaches, tantalising cuisine, pristine nature, captivating culture, vibrant nightlife, shopping extravaganzas, luxury lodgings - all waiting for your arrival...along with a friendly and heartfelt greeting. Welcome to our Umhlanga and Umdloti Coastline...and the Sweet Life!
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A detailed overview Durban's Umhlanga and Umdloti area
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26 December 2013
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