The South Coast region in KwaZulu Natal is that special part of the east coast of South Africa which stretches from Durban to Port Edward. The South Coast is no longer a closely guarded secret but has become a major tourism and holiday destination with its pristine beaches, wildlife and high standard of holiday facilities.
Just five kilometres offshore lies the internationally-renowned Aliwal Shoal - a fossilised sand dune of sponges, soft and hard coral. Aliwal Shoal attracts not only a wide variety of warm - and cold- water fish, but also many Ragged-Tooth sharks an awe- inspiring and surprisingly safe adventure! There has not been a single recorded shark attack on a scuba diver here, and the number of dive companies, plus underwater- themed accommodation, restaurants and taverns bear witness to Aliwal Shoal's popularity.
Tours to view the whales and dolphins that cruise and frolic past the shoal make for a spectacular South Coat activity
Head inland from the South Coast and you re in traditional Zulu territory, and with it, the chance to witness at first hand all the song and dance of a living culture. Climb the imposing Execution Rock - a short distance beyond the village of Dududu - for vast, spectacular views and a spot of daydreaming about days gone by. Stories abound of the colonial eccentrics who renounced their 'duties' to immerse themselves in the 'alternative' Zulu lifestyle here. It's still possible to see your future laid out in a throw of the bones, or return home with authentic handicrafts and a highly - descriptive, custom-divined Zulu name - all guaranteed to suitably impress your friends!
Half an hour beyond Umzinto lies the 2 189 hectare Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve, a combination of open grassland and coastal forest... home to a wide range of wild animals plus more than 300 confirmed bird species. KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife Service maintains the reserve and its accommodation facilities.
Yet further inland, the small town of Highflats is a convenient base for exploring
cultural sites relating to the truly ancient San people. Caves,
rock paintings, religious shrines and ceremonial sites bear witness to this
fascinating culture's deep understanding of the relationship between Man and
Nature. The San's mystical communion with the Eland has imprinted much of the
region with artistic homage to this regal antelope. Evidence of Voortrekker
wagon routes into the Zulu Kingdom from the
Drakensberg mountains is found along the old St Faiths road heading seawards
Umkomaas is not unexpectedly a bountiful line-fishing locale, too, and away from the briny its challenging, heavily wooded and bunkered 5479m golf course was designed specifically to test those who boast a low handicap. Just south of the town is a sheltered surfing and bathing beach at Widenham, followed by the former German-American mission of Clansthal...with its rail station, well-situated caravan park and up- market holiday cottages right on the beach. At the southern tip of this beach is Green Point...our coast's original (but obviously no longer) 'Secret Spot' for surfers who travel the world in search of uncrowded point breaks where the waves peel off in unison for hundreds of metres at a time. As with all such 'unofficial' surfing destinations along out coastline, there are no shark nets or lifeguards...and belong only in the realm of experienced wave-riders. The Green Point lighthouse is a National Monument and much sought- after attraction for those interested in a different aspect of the ocean.
Scottburgh, where Mphambanyoni River and Indian Ocean meet, is the next port o' call - literally so in the 1860s, when would-be shipping magnates moved their harbour-building attempts there from the failures at Mkomazi River mouth. Named after colonial Governor John Scott, it was the first township to be laid out south of Durban, but not the first successful port - that dream was scuppered within a few years.
A little south of Scottburgh - and inland from the picturesque, safe beach at Park Rynie - is Sugar Country...centered around the predominantly Indian-influenced town of Umzinto. These are the cane-fields whose yield precipitated the flurry of transport initiatives around the turn of the century...and whose legacy of indentured plantation labour and immigrant traders from the Indian sub- continent informs much of today's South Coast society. In early magistracy, Umzinto also witnessed the first horse races south of Durban, and many a pioneering fortune changed hands at these meetings!
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