Whatever else he may have done, former South African president Jacob Zuma has put the Nkandla district of Zululand on the map – a beautiful part of KwaZulu-Natal with unusual attractions. So one of our contributor’s Glynis Horning went on a journey to find six more things you can do in Nkandla.
1. Dlinza Forest Aerial Boardwalk
Set in 250ha of indigenous coastal scarp forest in the heart of Eshowe village, this 10m-high walkway gives a bird’s-eye view of the magnificent trees (forest mahogany to yellowwood and giant umzimbeet) and ends in a 20m steel tower with splendid views. Walk early morning (as we did) or at twilight for the best birding. Keep your eyes peeled for everything from spotted ground thrushes and trumpeter hornbills to crowned eagles and narina trogons.
Cost: R40 for adults, R30 for pensioners, R10 for children
Open: 1 April to 31 August from 7am to 5pm; 1 September to 31 May 31 from 6am to 5pm
Contact: 035 474 4029, Dlinza Forest Aerial Boardwalk
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2. Fort Nongqayi Museum Village
Also in Eshowe (7 Nongqay Road), Fort Nongqayi Museum Village was built to house the Zululand Native Police after the Anglo-Zulu War, and revived during the Bambatha uprising in 1906. Now it’s the home of the Zululand Historical Museum with quirky exhibits that include the wheelchair made for obese, gout-ridden King Mpande by Norwegian missionaries in 1842. In the grounds are a Mission Chapel Museum, KZN Papermakers (watch them in action for R10), and the Vukani Zulu Cultural Museum, which draws international collectors with its outstanding Zulu basketry, clay pots (some by the celebrated Nesta Nala and her family) and sculptures.
Cost: R35 for adults, R15 for pensioners, R10 for children
Open: 7:30am to 4pm
Contact: 035 474 2281
3. Nkandla Forest
Some 55km north-west of Eshowe and 20km from Nkandla village on the main Eshowe/Nkandla Road, you’ll find the Nkandla Forest. This is one of the most outstanding examples of the rare climax mistbelt forest in the country, and is home to 250 bird species, buck and endangered Karkloof Blue butterflies. It’s been a refuge for the Zulus from the days of Shaka to the Bambatha rebellion. In 1883 when King Cetshwayo’s army was defeated, the wounded king hid in the forest until the resident British commissioner arranged for him to move to Eshowe, where he died. He was buried within sight of the forest. The forest falls under Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, and though there are no visitor facilities, you can hike and bike with permission from the officer in charge; a ranger guide can be provided on request.
Open: By arrangement
Contact: Elliackin Zungu, 079 029 0004/ 072 092 0004, e-mail [email protected].
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4. Nsuze River Valley and Mome Gorge
The Nsuze River Valley and Mome Gorge offer sensational panoramic view sites, but are only accessible with a 4×4 and a guide. Mome is where King Czetshwayo fled after being stabbed in the leg by rival Mandlakazi under chief kaMaphitha at the royal kraal of Ondini (another fascinating place to visit).
Contact: Umlalazi/Eshowe Tourism 035 473 3359 for a tour guide, or Hugh Lee 083 265 7140, [email protected]
5. All Saints Church, Vumahlamvu
A ship bell from the HMS Terrible hangs from a tree behind the church on Eshowe Road just outside the village of Nkandla. The ship used to bring guns that contributed to the lifting of the Boer’s Seige of Ladysmith in February 1900, freeing the town’s starving inhabitants. One of these residents happened to be my grandmother, who was a child of 10 at the time.
6. Shu-Shu Hot Springs:
These bubble up from an island in the middle of the Tugela River below Kranskop, and you can reach them only when the river is low. You won’t be alone as it’s a popular camping spot for local farmers. These hot springs fall under the control of a tribal chairman.
Cost: Around R150 a person for two nights (bring all your own gear).
Open: Mostly June and July, if the river permits.
Contact: 082 828 4852/082 459 4473.
Words Glynis Horning
Photography Sue Parker-Smith, Glynis Horning, Umlalazi/Eshowe Tourism
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A journalist by trade, features writer on occasion and now the digital editor of SA Country Life. The first chance she gets, Leigh will tell you about a podcast she was recently listening to and how you simply have to make the move from radio. In a previous life, she once taught English on Jeju which left her with an insatiable craving for kimchi.