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Wildlife & history in KwaZulu Natal

By Ben Williams, 18 November 2016

KwaZulu Natal is a region of natural beauty, complex history and amazing people, ranging from the mighty Drakensberg Mountains, through savannah and grasslands to the Indian Ocean coast. On my latest trip to the region, I experienced highlights including dramatic mountain scenery, wildlife, Boer War battlefields, delicious cuisine and beautiful sandy beaches. It is an overnight flight to Johannesburg and then a short hop to Durban, South Africa’s third city, a journey made easy by the small time difference, and the smooth Kirker “meet & greet” service. I can thoroughly recommend relaxing over a Durban curry, one of the highlights of the delicious menu at the Oyster Box Hotel in the Umhlanga region of Durban. The sandy beaches, shops and restaurants, and the hotel’s spa and swimming pool make it the ideal place to start a holiday.

From Durban, I headed west to the imposing Drakensberg Mountains and the leafy town of Himeville, where Moorcroft Manor provides extensive gardens, complete with boating and fishing lake – a great base from which to explore ancient cave paintings by the San people, the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, and dramatic mountain passes. From the mountains we then descended to Nambiti game reserve: where we met male black rhinos, impala fawns and some amorous elephants. Being here in the southern spring, we were also lucky to see an array of young giraffe, zebra and, my personal favourite, warthog. The game drives from Nambiti Hills were excellent, as was the comfort of the thatched suites and freshly prepared meals.

Our final destination in “KZN” was to be a real highlight – the Spioenkop battlefields (a favourite of my colleague Ted Wake, whose grandfather fought here), and the delightful farmstead of Three Tree Hill, home of the affable, generous and extremely knowledgeable Simon and Cheryl Blackburn. Our Kirker guide, Ron, brought to life the scenes of the brave men of the British and Boer armies who fought over this hill in early 1900, and a visit here will be a highlight of any itinerary to Natal. However, as the morning mist cleared over Spioenkop Dam, we were treated to another unforgettable sight – a herd of adult white rhino roaming peacefully in the silent surroundings – coming within 20 feet of us.

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