PICS: Top 50 off-beat locations to visit in KZN

PICS: Top 50 off-beat locations to visit in KZN

In a year where most people will probably do a staycation, KZN is the perfect place to be!

Drakensberg Gardens (KZN Tourism Official)
Drakensberg Gardens / Instagram (KZN Tourism Official)

COVID-19 has put a damper in our moods, but that does not mean that a short drive to the South Coast, or maybe in the Midlands cannot happen - of course with strict COVID protocols in place!

Last year we compiled a list of things you can do for R100 and we discovered a lot of hidden gems in KZN.

So this week we asked to take a moment and think of the area you live; all the way from Estcourt to Dundee, Toti to Margate, Umhlanga to Ballito, Phoenix and Berea and help us put together a list of the 50 amazing offbeat places to visit in KZN - we must say, these places are true gems!

1. Nelson Mandela Capture Site (submited by Garth)

Nelson Mandela was arrested on 5 August 1962 outside of Howick, KZN. The Nelson Mandela Capture Site commemorates this moment in history with a visitor centre and a world renowned sculpture.

2. Boarder Cave Rock Shelter

If you're an archaeology enthusiast, visit the Boarder Cave Rock Shelter located in the Lebombo Mountains of KwaZulu-Natal and revel in some of the archaeological discoveries made in South Africa

3. The Firehouse Pizza Restaurant (submitted by Chris)

Situated in Florida, Morningsude, it is described as a neighbourhood pizza-joint that brings people together.

4. Shakaland Zulu Cultural Village

Shakaland has been hailed as one of the best Zulu experiences on the continent, thanks to its authenticity and the sheer element of fun that infuses every part of it

5. Spioenkop Dam

This attraction is located 35 kilometres from Ladysmith and 14 kilometres from Winterton, making it a popular weekend water sport destination, whilst also offering a serene game reserve environment.

6. KwaShu- Shu Hotsprings

KwaShushu is a natural hot spring on an island in the middle of the Thukela River below Ntunjambili (Kranskop).

7. Sculpture Garden and Bead Museum

For an 'Alice in Wonderland' experience with amazing exhibitions, this place in Kloof should be your go to.

Sculpture Garden and Bead Museum

8. Monteseel

Tucked between the Valley of a Thousand Hills & Cato Ridge, Monteseel is recognised as a national heritage site, home to some of the oldest Cycads on earth

9. Tala Private Game Reserve

This is a wildlife conservancy hidden in the hills of a quiet farming community not far from Durban in KwaZulu Natal

10. Sani Pass

Situated between KZN and Lesotho the pass was built circa 1950. Go prepared for bad weather at any time and expect snowfalls as late as October. Snow has fallen on the pass in every month of the year, albeit not in the same year.

11. Ingeli Trail

Don’t miss all the Mountain Biking trails throughout KwaZulu-Natal if mud, tread & two wheels are your thing.

12. Virginia Bush Nature Reserve (submitted by Mike)

Located by Newport Avenue, a fairly busy road, but you don't hear the traffic once you enter the bush. The 38-hectare reserve consists mainly of coastal bush.

13. Dlinza Forest Game Reserve 

Just outside of Eshowe on the Zululand Birding Route are numerous walking trails and a 10-metre high aerial boardwalk that runs through this indigenous forest  

14. Hawklee Country House

Tranquil sounds of the Lions River, spectacular views & sumptuous country cuisine await at the charming Hawklee Country House in Midlands

15. Mangeni Falls

This beautiful and remote waterfall deserves greater regard. Surrounded by open grassland and rural settlements it is seldom visited, unless as part of an organised tour of the Battlefields, or the Southern KwaZulu-Natal birding route.

16. eMazizini Cultural Village

Situated in Royal Natal in Drakensberg, this cultural village is a must visit for those seeking authentic cultural experiences . 

17. Emakhosini Ophathe Heritage Museum 

If it’s a cultural experience like no other you’re after, then you might want to give this place a visit.

Ophathe Heritage Museum
Supplied, Tourism KwaZulu Natal

18. Little Church Tea Garden in Van Reenen

The church is situated on the pass between Ladysmith and Harrismith. It is the smallest church in the town of Van Reenen and the Southern Hemisphere; it is actually very likely to be the smallest Roman Catholic Church in the world

19. Isandlwana Lodge

Carved into the Nyoni Rock-face, overlooking the Anglo-Zulu battlefields, soak up the drama, history and ambiance of the luxurious Isandlwana Lodge

20. Kloof & Highway SPCA

Stray and lost animals can be brought to this place.

21. Beachwood mangroves (submitted by Charlie Steinbank)

A boardwalk runs through this scenic mangrove-swamp forest in Durban North

22. The Kritzinger Steps in Amanzimtoti

"Not the most amazing, but it’s a Jol," – Bianca from Toti

23. Flag Animal Farm (submitted by Bianca Palmer)

Situated in Saint Lucia, the farm is home to over 1000 animals, birds, reptiles, wolves. The best part is that 80% of their animals are rescued.

24. Snorkeling Cape Vidal snorkeling

Cape Vidal Bay is a semi protected bay and therefore makes for some incredible snorkeling opportunities.

25. Ithala Game Reserve

A scenic destination for a KwaZulu-Natal holiday in the bush on day and night safaris, guided bush walks, picnics and swimming adventures in the river pools.

26. Xcaped (submitted by Melodie)

"Margate KZN has an amazing small business and escape room in the heart of margate called Xcaped. They have two escape room experiences The Basement and stop the Bombs both rooms take 60 minutes and 2 to 6 people at a time. Really and amazing entertaining experience for young and old" - Melodie

27. Krantzkloof Nature Reserve 

Krantzkloof lies where two rivers meet – the Molweni and Nqutu – forming an gorge. The 584 hectare reserve’s viewpoint overlooks the Kloof.

28. Mkhomazi Wilderness Area

Mkhomazi Wilderness refers to a large section of the southern central parts of uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Centre) 

29. Drakensberg Gardens

Golf lovers will enjoy the scenic views at the Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens Golf and Spa Resort. DrakGardens, as it is also called, is located on a 860 hectare World Heritage site. It doesn't get any better than this. 

30. KwaXolo Caves adventure 

The KwaXolo Caves, located inland of Margate on the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) South Coast, were once open-rock shelters for indigenous San communities, with the history of these people echoed in the rock paintings evident today.

31. Japanese Gardens - Durban North

If you are looking for a clean and beautiful garden to enjoy a day out with family and friends, then the Japanese Gardens is the place to be. The garden is surrounded by trees, lily ponds, and Japanese themed sculptures. 

32. Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust

The Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust hosts cultural tours for members of the public "to see and feel the unique nature of Zulu life".  The tour guides are local Gogos who know everything there is to know about Zulu customs and traditions. 

33. Giba Gorge Mountain Bike Park 

Giba Gorge Mountain Bike Park in Pinetown is known for its amazing bike trails. But it's more than just an MTB park.  There are also great trails for hikers and runners. 

34. Mac Banana - Port Edward

Mac Banana is the perfect place for people looking for adventure. From quad biking to zip-lining, there's something for everyone at Mac Banana. 

35. Fort Nongqayi

Located in the heart of Zululand, the Fort Nongqayi Museum offers a rich and extensive view of the history of the area and South Africa.

Fort Nongqayi Museum
Supplied, Tourism KwaZulu Natal

36. Pennington Ski-boat club 

 This is a great deep sea angling club with a beautiful beach, bar and restaurant. Amazing sea view! Kid friendly playground. 

37. St. Lucia Crocodile Centre

Reptile lovers will enjoy getting up close and personal with reptiles such as the Nile, long-snouted, and dwarf crocodile.

38. Thompson's Hole in the Wall  - Ballito

Enjoy Instagram-writhy views at Thompson's Bay's famous 'Hole in the Wall'. 

39. Royal Natal National Park (submitted by Ashley Mathews)

Royal Natal National Park is renowned for its spectacular scenery and fabulous mountain trails which explore the heart of this KwaZulu-Natal nature reserve in South Africa - location within the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park. 

40. Lake Eland Zip Line Tours (suggested by Nicki Anthony)

Lake Eland Zip Line is the longest zip line tour in Africa ! The 4.5km tour consists of 14 zip line slides starting at the top of the Oribi Gorge.

41. Monks Cowl

Situated in the Central Drakensberg approximately four hours from Johannesburg and two and a half hours from Durban, in the magnificent Champagne Valley. 

42. Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve (suggested by Charlotte Lee Marais)

"The Coedmore Castle is a spectacular view when visiting the nature reserve" - Charlotte Lee Marais

 43. Lake Sibaya (suggested by Diamond Liezl)

Located in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, it is the largest fresh water lake in South Africa with a surface area of 77 km² and an average depth of 13 metres.

44. Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse

Wake up to beautiful mountain views at Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse in the Drakensberg. 

45. eMazizini Cultural Village

Rich in history and culture, the eMazizini Cultural Village has many great stories to tell. 

46. The Doghouse Cafe (suggested by Gail)

Craft brewery & restaurant set in a beautiful indigenous nature reserve. Child and dog friendly venue. Our homemade pot-pies & woodfired pizza our speciality.'

47. Aliwal Shoal (suggested by Kerry Smith)

KwaZulu-Natal has its own rocky reef. Roughly 5 kilometres out to sea off the coast of the town of Umkomaas, and half an hour's drive from Durban.

48. Howick Falls (suggested by Byron Munsamy)

Also known as KwaNogqaza, the 'place of the tall one', – the waterfall is a 95 metre cascade into a broiling, restless pool, and said to be the place of the spirits of ancestors

49. Lake Jozini

If you love the tranquil serenity of open lakes and first-class hotel stays, then a trip to Lake Jozini is just what you need to unwind.

50. Karkloof Falls

This area in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands boasts some of the most unspoilt landscape in the region. A short drive through the grasslands and plantations will lead you to the exquisite Karkloof Falls.

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