KwaZulu-Natal has a wonderful mix of coastal and inland destinations with plenty of affordable accommodation in between. We’ve chosen 12 places that have been reviewed by Getaway over the years. Have a look and get going!
Things to do
White water rafting (Oribi) takes place on Umzimkulu River. It’s seven kilometres and about three and half hours in duration. There are eight rapids. The price is R490 per person. These trips begin in March. Call 0828440995 or 0710591524, email [email protected]
Clearwater MTB Trails borders the Umtamvuna Nature Reserve. There is a single track for mountain bikers and trail running. You can also go for nature walks. Call Natalie Abbott on 0835496710 or email [email protected]
Margate Art Museum has been open since 1994. There are paintings and sculptures by local and non-local artists. Entrance is free. Call 0393128392.
1. Botha House, Pennington
Cost: R795 per person (Deluxe); R650 per person (Standard) and R495 per person (Courtyard)
Botha House came in fourth on Pippa de Bruyn’s list of The South Coast’s best beach houses. For Pippa it was the ‘best guest house and great for golfers’. The Umdoni Park Golf Club is just next to it and you can walk to the beach; it is better to swim at Pennington though.
2. Thandulula Luxury Safari Tents, Southport
Cost: R685 per night per couple; R260 per extra adult; R100 per night per teenager (14 – 17); R70 per child (13 and younger). These are out-of-season tariffs. In-season it’s R990 per night per couple and the same as the out-of-season rates for the rest of the categories.
Thandulula Luxury Safari Tents is a Getaway favourite and can be read about in detail here: family holiday hotspot: Thandulula Luxury Safari Tents in KwaZulu-Natal. The tents are built on raised wooden decks. This ‘bosveld by the sea’ has various types of small wildlife on the property as well as a rich and diverse birdlife. Southport Beach is 1.5 kilometres away.
Distance: more than an hour from Durban.
Things to do
Karkloof Conservation Centre opens from 08:00 to 16:00 and the entrance fee is R25 per adult, R15 per child and R15 for pensioners. It’s a birding destination but there are also antelopes, frogs and insects. You can also hike and cycle. You can call 0723763023 but it’s best to email [email protected]
Karkloof Canopy Tour has tours between 08:00 and 15:00 and they depart every 30 minutes. The tours are two to four hours long and it’s R650 per person. If you love nature and want to explore forests from above, this is the activity to do. Book in advance online or call 0333303415. You can also email [email protected]
Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve has an education centre on-site and six walking trails. There’s a variety of birds, mammals and trees (with an indigenous tree trail). Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve conducts trail runs and you can picnic. There are also views of the tail-end of Albert Falls. umgenivalley.co.za
Karkloof Mountain Bike Trails is based at the Karkloof Country Club. You don’t need to be a member to ride – just pay R50, sign an indemnity form and receive a coloured wristband. There are six MTB specific trails that range from a 7-kilometre family loop to a technical 37-kilometre loop. There are also three running routes. Email [email protected]
Zulu – Mpophomeni Tourism Experience is in the town of Mpophomeni which is part of the uMngeni Footprint Route. There is a cultural experience, township tours, traditional lunch and entertainment and guesthouses within the community. Call 0332380288
3. Corrie Lyn Cottage, Midlands
Cost: R800 for two people per night; R350 thereafter
Corrie Lyn was featured on 12 of our favourite farm stays around South Africa. It has been around since 1882 and accommodates up to 18 people. It’s dog-friendly and you can also spoil yourself at the farm stalls of the Midlands Meander only a short distance away.
4. Lions River Country Cottages, Midlands
Cost: Lavender Cottage is R485 per person, per night for two people during low season and R510 per person, per night for two people during the high season.
Contact: lrcc.co.za to book online.
Lions River Country Cottages was on ‘More affordable weekend breaks near Durban‘ and offers three cottages, Rose, Lavender and Protea. Although there are wide spaces between each, Protea has the best view. Breakfast must be booked in advance and there is also a ‘buy-in’ service where you email a shopping list three days in advance and arrive to a fully stocked fridge and cupboards. There is Wi-Fi in the main house.
5. Beverley Country Cottages, Howick
Cost: during low season, it’s R530 per adult, per night (self-catering cottage) and R265 per child (under 12), per night (free for children under four). Check the website for December and Easter rates
Contact: 0339400972 or 0828954002 or email [email protected]
It’s not a ‘specialty lodging’ but Beverley Country Cottages wins for best hostess (read: 15 cosy Midlands escapes to suit every taste). Upon confirmation of your booking, you’ll receive a list of local produce (free-range meats, relishes etc) and prepared meal options. Up to six people can sleep in the cottages.
6. Twin Pools, Balgowan
Cost: R520 per person, per night for self-catering; R608 if you include breakfast (off-peak rates)
Worth a look is Twin Pools (read: 15 cosy Midlands escapes to suit every taste). ‘Davis was born for hospitality – warm and nurturing, she and husband Brian have created three lovely rooms and a cottage, each with private access’. The rooms have an outside seating area looking onto a very beautiful garden and dam in Balgowan.
7. Otter’s Den
Cost: R525 per person sharing per night
Otter’s Den is a four two-sleeper thatched cottages high above a gorge. ‘They’re a bit close together, but each has a private balcony overlooking the Lions River. I liked the view from Chelsea and Copper the most,’ says Pippa.
8. Lake Cottage at Zulu Waters, Mooi River
Cost: Nandi House (R600 per person, per night) and Lake Cottage (R750 per person, per night)
Also on 15 cosy Midlands escapes to satisfy all tastes is Lake Cottage at Zulu Waters (No. 8). It’s Pippa’s best for solitude and nature and she describes it as a dinky, simple, contemporary stone bungalow, stylishly furnished, and with a large fireplace, deep shaded veranda, endless views, in the middle of a very beautiful 2800-hectare reserve … heaven.’ Nandi House is the other self-catering option at Zulu Waters and is built on top of an old reservoir from the early 1900s. The architecture at Zulu Waters was designed by Richard Stretton of Koop Design who won the SAIA-Afrisam Award for Sustainable Architecture in 2010.
9. Lemonwood Cottages
Cost: R410 per person, per night for the cottages; and R450 per person, per night for the main house
Lemonwood Cottages is worth a look as ‘another low-key option in the splendid Dargle valley, these four cottages (plus the option to book the main house) sit atop an elevated ridge on a non-working farm bordering a forest. The view, particularly from Serval, is stunning,’ says Pippa.
Distance: less than an hour from Durban.
Things to do
Sundowners with the barn swallows. You can see up to three million barn swallows that come to roost here every evening. It lasts from November to April, and these summer months are just the conditions the barn swallows like. There is an entrance fee of R20 per person and you need to arrive an hour before sunset. Bring chairs or a picnic and sundowners. Call 0315681557, mountmorelandconservancy.co.za
Holla Mountain Bike Trails has 10 trails that range from an easier 13-kilometre route to a technical 85-kilometre route. A day pass is R60 and if you don’t have a bike and a helmet you can rent one for R250 (includes the permit). Call 0828993114 or email [email protected]
Sugar Rush Park has an endless list of activities: Segways, laser tag, putt putt, a trampoline park, a pump track, kids MTB and a play zone. Prices and opening times vary so visit sugarrush.co.za for a breakdown for each or email [email protected]
Tidal Tao’s most popular snorkelling experience is the Discover Snorkel Safari, which is in Ballito and Salt Rock. It’s good for first-timers and is the best for seeing fish and coral species. Snorkelling is during the day and at night. For more of KZN’s North Coast try their Rocky Shore Walks and Night Walks. Call 0793070608 or email [email protected]
Luthuli Museum is located in the home of Chief Albert Lutuli, a former president of the African National Congress and Nobel Prize recipient. Admission is free. Call 0325596822 or email [email protected]
10. Tiffany’s Beach Cottage, Salt Rock
Cost: R500 per person, per night sharing
This oceanside stay is ‘a low-slung bungalow divided into three spaces – a kitchen (with a door to the back garden and extra loo) and two neat en-suite bathrooms’. The beach is just 30 metres away and is great for swimming and surfing (Salt Rock’s tidal pool is 500 metres away). Pippa says that Tiffany’s Beach Cottage is the absolute bargain.
Also read: 10 of our favourite Dolphin Coast stays.
11. Spindrift Guest House, Umdloti
Cost: Kingfisher and Rainbird are R980 per night for two people (out-of-season; price goes up in-season), Loerie is R760 for two people (out-of-season)
Spindrift has three self-catering units suitable for solo travellers, couples and small families. Pippa says that Rainbird is the most charming with two bedrooms, a dining-lounge-kitchen area and a small patio with sea views. The owner, Judy Bean furnished it with second-hand and antique pieces.
Kingfisher is a duplex in the garden with two bedrooms, an upstairs lounge and a sea view while Lourie is a one bedroom with an open-plan-lounge-kitchen. ‘Judy is one of those wonderful hostesses with an eye for detail and the sincerest of welcomes.’
Distance: more than two hours from Durban.
Things to do
Zululand Brewery is part of the KwaZulu-Natal beer or brew route. They are located in Eshowe which is just an hour from Melmoth. Their Zulu Blonde beer is their most popular offering and was also launched internationally. To do a tour, book in advance by calling 0354742298.
Dlinza Forest Aerial Boardwalk is part of The Zululand Birding Route. Dlinza Forest is an indigenous coastal forest that is 250 hectares. The walkway is 150 metres long and there is a 20-metre tower for more elevated views of the forest and surrounding areas. Email [email protected]
12. Avocado Cottage, Melmoth
Cost: from R1000 to R1500 per night for the Cottage (2 – 8 people) depending on the number of people and length of stay.
Contact: 0826512837 or email [email protected]
Avocado Cottage is a double-storey brick building overlooking the cane fields. There’s a dam and 55 hectares of avocado trees, some of which were planted about 30 years ago.