City by the Bloody River
At the beginning of 1838, the first track (expedition, a group of pioneers in Dutch) of the Boers, several hundred people led by Peter Retief, came here. The Zulus met them with hostility. First, Retief was killed, and then about 600 Boers were massacred. In December of the same year, when the second track approached here (the leader of the Boers was called Gerrit Maritz), the combined detachments of the Boers and the regular units of the English troops in the valley of the Inyoma River inflicted a major defeat on the Zulus, destroying more than three thousand soldiers in battle. None of the Boers were wounded. Since then, the Inkoma River has been called the Blood River. In honor of Pieter Retief, the city founded here was named Pieterburg, and a century later it turned into Pietermaritzburg. Gerrit Maritz was also immortalized in this way.This quiet town is an hour’s drive from Durban. It is famous for its Victorian era buildings, whose architecture is reminiscent of the times of the British presence.
Pioneer Museum (Voortrekker Museum). A small but very revered Afrikaner museum dedicated to the Battle of Bloody River. Housed in the Church of Vow, built to commemorate the victory over the Zulus.
The Natal Museum is one of the largest in the country. There are exhibits telling about prehistoric animals and inhabitants of the sea, a rich collection of works of African art, an exposition dedicated to Portuguese sailors.
Alexandra Park. A very beautiful place with gazebos and pavilions in the colonial style. It is interesting to visit the National Botanical Gardens, where, if the time coincides, you can listen to the Scottish pipers.
World’s View. Observation platform on the plateau, which offers a beautiful view of the city and its surroundings.
Central Natal (Natal Midlands) between Pietermaritzburg and the river Mui (Mooi) is one of the best places in South Africa – the central part of Natal (Natal Midlands). Green fields and forests, rivers and murmuring streams, quiet lakes, colonial estates… The Karkloof waterfall, 105 meters high, is impressive. Here they drink English tea, breed thoroughbred horses, sit in pubs… Very original souvenirs are sold here.
Holidays on the beaches of Natal
North coast. The main resort places of Natal are Umshlanga Rocks, Ballito, Margate. Here the beach season lasts all year round. Special nets protect against sharks. The waves are quite high. The bottom is shallow. Swimming at night is strictly prohibited. The water temperature during the year is from +22 to 26°C. The rainy season is from November to March, but this does not interfere with the rest, it just rains more often during this period. Umshlanga Rocks, one of South Africa’s most famous high-end resorts, is located about 20 km north of Durban’s city centre. There is everything for recreation and entertainment. Several of the best hotels are located right on the shore, among them the luxurious Beverly Hills Sun InterContinental 5 * hotel with a beautiful view of the lighthouse and the ocean. Umshlang is home to the National Shark Council, the only organization of its kind in the world. Here you can watch an audio-video presentation and see a shark autopsy, buy souvenirs, go along with the Council staff to check the shark nets. South Africa is the first country in the world to make it illegal to kill sharks. Dolphin Beach runs from Umshlang Rocks to Zinquasi Beach. Dolphins here can be observed directly from the shore throughout the year. The center of the area – Ballito – is a small cozy seaside resort, one of the best in South Africa, with beautiful sandy beaches and respectable mansions, immersed in greenery.
South coast. Kilometers of sandy beaches form the recreation area of the resort village of Umkomas, which is an hour’s drive south of Durban. In addition to the beaches, there are excellent conditions for diving. Opposite Umkomas lies the huge Aliwal Shoal, a great diving spot. You need to go here during the dry season in winter – from May to September, when there is good visibility. During this period, saber-toothed sharks migrate, and you can see large flocks of these predators. Jacques Cousteau ranked this place among the top ten dive sites in the world. In June – August, the annual migration of sardines takes place along the entire southern coast. Dense shoals move along the shore one after another, fish can be caught by hand directly from the surf. They are followed by sharks, dolphins, etc.
Nearby are Scottburgh and Penington with excellent golf courses. The Scottburg area is home to the TC Robertson Nature Reserve (birds, plants), Skyline Nature Reserve (plants), and Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve (mountain canyons). There is also a traditional Zulu village.
140 km south of Durban is the Margate beach resort, known as a youth resort. There are excellent beaches, dozens of restaurants, bars and discos. Crocodile farms, the bird sanctuary Amanzimtoti Bird Sanctuary, and the Banana Express sightseeing train are also interesting on the south coast.
Durban and Natal coast
How to get there: flight to Durban.
Length of stay: in one of the resort villages north or south of Durban, usually spend from three to five nights. On the coast bordering Mozambique, you will not be bored even for a week.
This majestic mountain range (in Afrikaans – Drakensberg) stretches from the north of the Eastern Cape province through Lesotho, KwaZulu, Mpumalanga to Kruger Park. It takes about two hours to get here from the coast. These mountains are over 140 million years old, their maximum height reaches 3482 m (Tkabana-Ntlenyana). According to local legends, a formidable dragon once lived here. In winter, the mountains are covered with snow. It’s hard to believe that you are in Africa. It is amazingly beautiful here at any time of the year. Lush greenery, mountain lakes, trout, waterfalls… Numerous hiking and riding trails are laid out, helicopter rides with champagne are organized…
Many mountain trips start from Monk’s Cowl Wilderness Reserve. The most scenic spots in the Dragon Mountains include Cathedral Peak, Mike ‘ s Pass, Rainbow Gorge Trail and Doreen Falls. Spionkop GR offers excellent horse safaris. In the north of the Drakensberg-Natal National Park, in the area of the Tugela river valley, there is a mountain ledge, which is called the Amphitheater. Here, if you take care in advance, you can listen to the performance of the boys’ choir of the famous Drakensberg Choir School (Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School).