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Overview

The provincial capital Pietermaritzburg, 50 km (31 miles) inland from Durban, has some interesting Victorian architecture, but is undistinguished compared to the surrounding misty green hills of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. A popular base for exploring this countryside reminiscent of England is Howick, overlooking the pretty Howick Falls. Between Howick and Nottingham Road, the Midlands Meander consists of 100-odd scattered restaurants, country guesthouses and craft, furniture and curio shops.

Bordering Lesotho, the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site protecting southern Africa's tallest mountain range, ...

The provincial capital Pietermaritzburg, 50 km (31 miles) inland from Durban, has some interesting Victorian architecture, but is undistinguished compared to the surrounding misty green hills of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. A popular base for exploring this countryside reminiscent of England is Howick, overlooking the pretty Howick Falls. Between Howick and Nottingham Road, the Midlands Meander consists of 100-odd scattered restaurants, country guesthouses and craft, furniture and curio shops.

Bordering Lesotho, the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site protecting southern Africa's tallest mountain range, with dozens of peaks rising above 3,000 meters (9,843 feet). Much of the park is inaccessible by vehicle; indeed, the sole road crossing between KwaZulu-Natal and Lesotho is the rough Sani Pass, accessed by 4x4 from the sleepy town of Himeville.

The mountains are ideal for hiking and rambling. The Royal Natal sector, set below an impressive formation known as Amphitheater, is the most scenic, while Giant's Castle is good for wildlife such as eland and lammergeyer (bearded vulture). This is Africa's richest repository of prehistoric rock art, with fine examples preserved in the crags of Giant Castle, Didima Valley and Kamberg Nature Reserve.

Philip Briggs
About the Expert

Philip Briggs has written or contributed to 50-plus editions of Bradt, Insight, AA and Berlitz guidebooks to African destinations.

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Philip Briggs for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Year-round sunshine, but chillier with a possibility of snow May-August, and hot but often stormy November-March.