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Zululand & Maputaland

- Diving & safari in tropical climate -

Zululand and Maputaland includes some of the most diverse and pristine wilderness areas throughout South Africa. The rolling dunes, the swamps, the lakes and the bush truly reflect the real Africa. This area has an ideal climate for all African wildlife. Moreover, the area is a prime destination for all those who like diving!
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These areas are located in the northern part of KwaZulu-Natal. Zululand starts where the North Coast stops at the mighty Tugela River and then extends north all the way up to the Umfolozi River, just south of St. Lucia. North of this river starts Maputaland, ranging up to Kosi Mouth on the border to Mozambique.

Zululand and Maputaland are a bird watcher's paradise and there's a well established bird watching route that offers you South Africa's largest species richness in respect of birds. South Africa has invested heavily in training local guides and designing routes that you can drive your own car. There is an office in Richards Bay where you can get all the information you might need.

As the name suggests, Zululand was the home of the proud Zulu warriors and the area is a treasure trove of African jewels. A trip here will open your eyes to the great Zulu nation, whose status is still respected. Learn more about the Zulu's cultural history and get a chance to experience its customs and traditions.

Visit Shakaland Cultural Village, just outside Eshowe, which was originally built for the movie Shaka Zulu. Here you will experience the pulsating rhythm of the mysterious and magical Africa as you relive the Zulu King Shaka's exciting days. See how the skilled warriors use their spears, share the traditional healer's fascinating secrets and witness traditional customs such as dancing, spear making and beer drinking ceremonies. Shakaland is a genuine copy of King Shaka's mighty village where you can experience a day in the legendary king's life.

Zululand has a very turbulent history and from this the mighty Zulu Nation was created. The Zulus have gone through many bloody battles against both the Boers and the British, and there are many historical battlefields in Zululand which are worth a visit.

If the Zulu culture interests you there's the Zulu Cultural and Heritage Trail to explore. The trail begins in Stanger and the journey then goes north via Eshowe, Melmoth and Ulundi. The roads are usually not paved, so don't be fooled by the distances, short distances can take a long time to travel – you should spend the night along the way to be able to experience as much as possible.

The trail passes through a very scenic area via museums – including Vukani Museum which holds the largest collection of traditional Zulu Art – birthplaces and graves of powerful Zulu kings, national monuments, Zulu villages, battlefields and residence of Zulu kings. There is also the opportunity to continue the tour to Enyokeni where the current Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has his palace.

In South Africa's northeast corner Maputaland extends, a rather flat, maybe slightly undulating landscape which is only broken by high dunes that run along the Indian Ocean all the way to Mozambique in the north. Coastal shrub, the native raffia palm, rare sand forest as well as wetlands and lakes are all competing for space in the scenic Maputaland.

Big parts of the Maputaland are only accessible by foot, horseback or by 4x4 vehicles and are therefore protected from mass tourism and other major intrusion by humans. In the far north, there is no conventional electricity or water supply. You will therefore experience the real Africa and a culture that is untouched by the modern world. Maputaland is also called the Elephant Coast because of the large number of elephants in the area.

The coast from St Lucia in the south to Mozambique in the north is the breeding ground for loggerhead and leatherback turtles. During the period from November to March these giant animals scramble up on the beaches in the middle of the night to lay their eggs – this is an experience you should not miss if you are travelling during this period! During the day you can take the opportunity to go out to sea to search for the majestic humpback whales, the area is perfect for whale watching within season.
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