Our Pride, Our Heritage – 7 iconic experiences to enjoy on the KZN South Coast this month
This September is the perfect month to get out and explore the country’s many historically-significant cultural experiences in celebration of Heritage Month. With its scenic beauty and a wealth of culture and heritage experiences, the KZN South Coast is a great place to start.
“South Africa is rich with diverse culture and heritage offerings, many of which can be found along the KZN South Coast,” explained Phelisa Mangcu, CEO of Ugu South Coast Tourism (USCT). “In line with this year’s World Tourism Day theme ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth’, we’re showcasing the area’s key culture and heritage experiences from the coast through to the hinterland. Through this, we aim to grow and expand tourist footprint to showcase our destination’s diverse offerings while bringing people together through knowledge, understanding and mutual respect.”
South Coast heritage sites to visit
1. Ntelezi Msani Heritage Centre
Discover the Paradise of the Zulu Kingdom with a visit to the Ntelezi Msani Heritage Centre which offers an authentic cultural experience. This notable arts and heritage facility, established in 2007, preserves and shares the rich history and culture of the Zulu nation. The centre allows visitors to experience this unique history through artwork, dance, seminars and musical performances.
2. iSivivane seNkosi uShaka
The iSivivane seNkosi uShaka is a traditional pile of stones left by Zulu warriors as a way to honour their ancestors. Each warrior would spit on a stone and add it to the pile as they passed. This Umzumbe-based stone pile dates back to 1828 when King Shaka himself came through the area leaving the isivivane. Guests can participate in this significant cultural ritual, leaving a part of themselves on the KZN South Coast forever.
3. Nyandezulu Experience
This guided tour takes visitors across the Ntantana Mountain overlooking the 80m-high Nyandezulu Waterfall. Picnics are then enjoyed in the shade of a wild fig tree while taking in the views. There’s also an audience with a sangoma, or a visit to a local tavern en route, before passing the Shembe Church atop the holy Mdlungwana Mountain, and enjoying a lazy lunch alongside the river.
4. KwaXolo Caves
This pristine range of caves, just inland of Margate, has preserved San paintings that are over 100 000 years old. This stunning piece of African history is now open to visitors through the KwaXolo Caves Adventures. This is a steel cable-and-rung system whereby visitors are harnessed are led by a tour guide along the mountainside safely to the caves.
5. KwaNzimakwe Cultural Experience
KwaNzimakwe is a beautiful rural village between Mpenjati Nature Reserve and Ezinqoleni. Visitors can participate in art and craft making while learning about the rich cultural history through a guided tour. This includes walkthrough leading across a mountain with spectacular views of the area.
6. São Joao Monument
The KZN South Coast has an interesting European maritime connection with a history dating back to the 1500s. In 1552 the São Joao was travelling back to Portugal from India when it ran aground near Port Edward during a storm. It’s believed some of the Portuguese survivors assimilated with local tribes and this strong Portuguese connection is celebrated through festivals, food and commemorative tributes. Visitors to Port Edward can visit the São Joao Monument which was erected in commemoration of those who died in the Sao Joao shipwreck.
7. The Red Desert Nature Reserve
Just 10km outside of Port Edward is the KZN South Coast’s unusual claim to fame – the world’s smallest desert! At just 200m in diameter, and 11ha in total, the Red Desert is a combination of small hills and valleys in naked red soil. Archaeological artefacts, dating back millions of years, have been found in the desert.
To find out more about the KZN South Coast heritage sites, Heritage Month celebrations and all the tourism offerings, download the free ‘Explore KZN South Coast’ app from Google Play and Apple stores, or visit www.visitkznsouthcoast.co.za. Alternatively, visit the ‘South Coast Tourism’ Facebook page, or follow @infosouthcoast on Twitter. To view the tour packages and specials, visit the USCT ‘Specials’ page at www.visitkznsouthcoast.co.za/specials/. For more information, follow the ‘Ugu Film Festival’ Facebook or visit www.uguff.org.