The Ultimate KwaZulu-Natal Road Trip Itinerary
Boasting a myriad of unique attractions and natural regions within relatively close proximity to one another, KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa offers the ultimate road trip itinerary.
From grand mountain scenery, to incredible Big five wilderness areas, to fine tropical beaches, KwaZulu-Natal, or KZN as it is called by the locals, is a diverse province that combines raw natural beauty with modern sophistication and cultural heritage. Road-tripping around KZN offers a tantalising taste of all the authentic African highlights that should be on every travellers’ bucket list.
To truly experience the best of this unique and multifaceted destination, we recommend doing a road trip around the province. Starting at the mountains and ending off at the beach, here’s a breakdown of what we believe to be the ultimate berg, bush and beach KZN road trip itinerary:
Situated a two to three-hour drive from Durban (the only city in KZN with an international airport), the Drakensberg Mountains is South Africa’s only great mountain range, and the majority of it lies within KZN. These exquisite mountains are a World Heritage Site and offers a range of outdoor pursuits, including hiking, horse riding, gold and other adventure activities.
WHERE TO STAY: THREE TREE HILL LODGE
Set in the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains, Three Tree Hill is a warm and intimate country lodge in the Spioenkop Game Reserve offering breathtaking scenery and luxury accommodation. This eco-friendly lodge is the ideal setting for travelers wanting to explore the Drakensberg and the Anglo-Boer war battlefields in the area.
Note: Three Trees provides a useful table to help you plan your trip, depending on your destination. Take a look at it here: http://threetreehill.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/KZN-Drive-Timetable-One-page.pdf
Venturing out of the mountains and heading more towards the coast, we recommend that the next stop on your road trip be one of the many magnificent wildlife reserves in the Mkuze/Hluhluwe area. About four to five hours’ drive from the Drakensberg, the area is teeming with some of the best Big Five sanctuaries in the country.
WHERE TO STAY: RHINO RIVER LODGE, MANYONI PRIVATE GAME RESERVE
Rhino River Lodge is a family-style safari lodge built on the banks of the Msunduze River in the Manyoni Private Game Reserve. This 23,000-hectare private game reserve is located just 30kms north of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park and is renowned its abundance of wildlife, as well as its wonderful birding opportunities. Rhino River Lodge offers a variety of accommodation options to suit the needs of every traveler, as well as two daily game drives, delicious food, and wonderfully welcoming staff.
ISIMANGALISO WETLAND PARK
Lapped by the warm water of the Indian Ocean, KwaZulu-Natal’s coastline offers a seemingly endless stretch of splendid beaches. While Durban might be the most popular beach destination in KZN for its superb surfing opportunities and beautiful boardwalks, it’s certainly not the only option for a beach escape. For a more remote beach experience, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is the place to go. Located about two to three hours’ drive from Mkuze, iSimangaliso has over 200km of pristine beaches just waiting to be explored.
WHERE TO STAY: THONGA BEACH LODGE
Situated on the pristine shores of the Maputaland Coast, in the heart of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Thonga Beach Lodge is a 24-bedded luxury lodge offering one of the most exclusive seaside experiences in KwaZulu-Natal. Thonga is the perfect place from which to discover one of the last unspoiled beaches left in Africa.
Things to know before you go:
Doing a self-driving road trip in KwaZulu-Natal is quite safe as the roads are well maintained and signposted. Here are a few things to be aware of though:
- Travelers coming from overseas will need to ensure that they have a valid International Drivers Permit in order to legally hire a vehicle and drive in South Africa.
- South Africans drive on the left side of the road.
- Always watch out for animals and pedestrians on the road.
- Be wary of reckless drivers
- Always obey road rules and speed limits to avoid altercations with the traffic police.