There is just something about Northern KwaZulu-Natal (or the Elephant Coast) that is different from the rest of the province. As you drive towards Hluhluwe, the air is crisp and clean. There's green vegetation, untouched and pristine. The birds that fly past make you want to stop and snap a picture. And then there's the sunset — so perfect you just have to take it all in.
The Elephant Coast is a great mix of the bush and the beach. From the many game reserves that are dotted around Hluhluwe, Mkhuze and Jozini to the excellent beaches of Sodwana Bay, Mabibi and Kosi Bay, you are spoilt with options that other parts of the province do not have.
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a unique mosaic of ecosystems – swamps, lakes, beaches, coral reefs, wetlands, woodlands, coastal forests and grasslands – supporting an astounding diversity of animal, bird and marine life.
Still looking for a place to visit this Easter weekend? Why not try these options in Northern KZN?
The first time I saw the majestic Lake Jozini, I screamed. I was nine years old, and I somehow thought we were drowning. I kept my eyes closed until we drove past the bridge. Decades later, Jozini has become one of the first destinations that I think of going to when I need a break from the world. Activities to consider in the area include tiger fishing, kayaking, walking trails, horseback riding and the popular boat cruise. The views of the Lebombo Mountains will give you a sense of calm, and the wildlife sightings are sure to remind you of where you are.
Of course, Jozini Tiger Lodge & Spa is the place many people choose to stay, and no one can blame them. The view of the dam from the hotel truly takes your breath away. Plus, the range of activities available that will keep your days at the lodge occupied makes it worth the four-hour drive from Durban. The 4-star hotel is the perfect place for those who want to unwind or gather a few friends for a mini-break.
It's very easy to drive past Mkhuze, but you shouldn't. A lot of people skip it, rather choosing to stay in Jozini or Hluhluwe, unknowingly missing out on the beauty of the small rural town and the beauty it boasts.
From the village of Mkuze, it is impossible not to ponder the mystery and legend surrounding the jagged heights of Ghost Mountain. With its dramatic silhouette, it’s not difficult to understand why the mountain is said to be haunted. Hence a stay at the Ghost Mountain Inn is a necessity.
The Mkuze and Zebra Hills Game Reserves may be two of the most-underrated game parks in the province, and so it's time to check them out this Easter.
The Mkuze River cuts through the Ubombo Mountains before serving as a boundary for Zululand's famous Mkuze Game Reserve, now part of the Isimangaliso Wetland Park.
The Mkuze Game Reserve has a diversity of natural habitats that make you realise what you have been missing out on. The Mkuze River curves along the game reserve's northern and eastern borders. Then there are the views of the eastern slopes of the Lebombo Mountains and the broad stretches of the acacia savannah, swamps and a variety of woodlands and riverine forests.
I've once taken the off-road route from Sodwana Bay to Manguzi and Kosi Bay via Mabibi village. Driving past Lake Sibaya and through the forest, I got to appreciate my driving skills and managed to also get to Thonga Beach before resuming the journey to Manguzi.
Of course, you do not have to take this tough route. There's always the easier route on the stretch of road from Mbazwana until you get to Manguzi and Kosi Bay.
Kosi Bay is a treasured part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
The resort town is famous for its water activities, from snorkelling and kayaking to 4x4 adventures, wildlife watching, and simply chilling out. Enjoy canoe and boat trips, take a walk through the rare raffia forests, and go for dusk dips on one of the most beautiful and untouched beaches in South Africa.
The Kosi Bay Nature Reserve boasts an amazing view of the Kosi Bay Mouth. It is really all about the untouched natural beauty of this town that has made it a haven for a wide variety of wildlife ranging from mammals to birds and fish. It's truly a pristine paradise with clear waters, thick forests & swamps and one of the best beaches.