Located at about 470km outside of Johannesburg and just 115km from Durban lies one of South Africa’s hidden gems, the Midlands Meander. A place where you can practically find all the things that can make a person want to frequent the area or even take permanent residency. I am also tempted at the latter because I feel like to truly enjoy the beauty of the Midlands one would have to wake up there everyday. There is so much to be discovered in that distinct part of the country. The Midlands boasts world class accommodation, arts and craft, adventure and leisure establishments and natural wonders (from the wide variety of bird species found in the area to the Drakensberg Amphitheatre and the political rich history that gave birth to the Nelson Mandela Museum that is a home to the Nelson Mandela Capture Site).
It works perfectly for a relaxing, adventurous and a romantic getaway. Some of the activities to be enjoyed include, wine tasting, cultural experiences, trout fishing, curio shopping; adventure activities such as horse riding, hiking, canopy tours, bird tracking, camping, canoeing in the famous Midmar Dam and so much more.
Read more about how you can maximize your stay in the Midlands by taking full advantage of the following activities in the area.
Visit the Mandela Capture Site
Nelson Mandela Capture Site located in Howick is a cultural and historical exhibition that is approximately 5 minutes from the N3 turnoff to Howick and is well signposted. It was here that Mandela was waved down by the police on a quiet country road when posing as a chauffeur and arrested on 5 August 1962 after spending years on the run. This the resulted in the Rivonia Treason Trial and him being sentenced to 27 years in prison. This is a must-see for anyone travelling along the N3 and the Midlands Meander. There is no booking required and the entrance is free, you are only urged to leave tips for their upkeep of the establishment.
Tel:+27 (0)71 834-4349
View/ Hike to the Howick Falls
Howick Falls, known to the locals as kwaNogqaza or “The Place of the Tall One”, a large waterfall that occurs when the Umgeni River falls 95 metres over dolerite cliffs on its way to the Indian Ocean. While Visiting these falls you can also go chasing waterfalls as there are several others in the vicinity. Close by are Cascade Falls (25 m) and Shelter Falls (37 m), while Karkloof Falls (105 m) is 16 km to the east. Next to the water falls’ look-out point there is a market where the locals showcase their craft, where you can buy your memorabilias before heading home.
Tel: +27 33 234 2911
Go on a Canopy Tour
For an Eco-Zipline Adventure through the Karkloof Indigenous Forest, visit the expansive Karkloof Valley. This canopy tour takes you on an unforgettable adventure as you slide from one platform to the next along a series of steel cables set amongst magnificent natural surroundings. It is widely regarded as one of the best eco-adventure activities in the world and is something for people of all ages with the youngest being 3 and the oldest 90 so far to do the tour.
Tel: 033 330 3415
Spend a day at Karkloof Farmers Market
The Karkloof Farmers’ Market is a fresh produce market offering high quality, choice, fresh produce from local farmers and producers in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. This is a unique in-door Market with a wide variety of stalls with great offerings from fresh fruit and vegetables to delicious home-baked treats and organic products. This Market offers you a wholesome, community, shopping experience. You can join on the fun, meet the locals and get a taste of the Midlands Meander way of life. Pack a picnic basket from the variety of stalls offering quality local produce and then take in the rest of the Midlands Meander.
Visit Kamberg Nature Reserve
This historical nature reserve nestled in the foothills of the Umkhahlamba Drakensberg Park, a World Heritage site. It provides stunning scenery of the mighty Drakensberg towering above, as well as easy access to some of the Drakensberg’s more well-known areas. The reserve is popular for its trout fishing, as well as self-guided trails into the ‘Little Berg’ range. Be sure not to miss a guided tour to the new Rock Art Centre, which showcases a magnificent collect of historical San paintings, part of what makes the Drakensberg a World Heritage Site.
Tel: + 27 (0) 33 845 1000
Recharge at Piggly Wiggly
Piggly Wiggly Country Village is deemed one of KZN’s premier eat-shop-play destinations. Situated on the Highgate Wine Estate in Lions River, Piggly Wiggly Country Village now offers over 25 unique shops and loads of family entertainment including the biggest Maze in Africa, Piggy Putt and soon will see the launch of The Biggest Piggy Bank in the Southern Hemisphere of which all proceeds will go to selected charities. It showcases the finest arts, shopping and entertainment offerings and is ideal for any family, corporate events and club activities.
Tel: 033 2342 911
Unwind at Karkloof Safari Spa
Karkloof Safari Spa is a luxury day spa located in the KZN Midlands. The spa offers a range of treatments and therapies at the hands of a team of highly skilled hand-picked Thai therapists. The ambience alone will have you coming back for more.
Tel: +27 33 569 1324
Indulge at the Chocolate Heaven
Chocolate Heaven boasts a wide selection of over 40 delicious combinations from, biltong, curry and koeksisters, to traditional favourites like fudge, caramel, Turkish delight, shortbread and freshly dipped strawberries. The famous original chocolate Dippingz Experience is perfect for the whole family to come together and have fun.
Tel: 033 266 6870
Explore Drakensberg Mountains
The Drakensberg is the name given to the eastern portion of the Great Escarpment, which encloses the central Southern African plateau. The Great Escarpment reaches its greatest elevation in this region – 2,000 to 3,482 metres. The Amphitheatre is the main feature of the Royal Natal National Park in the Drakensberg Mountain Range.
Also found in the Drakensberg area is the famous Sani Pass, a mountain pass located in the West of KwaZulu-Natal, on the road between Underberg, KwaZulu-Natal and Mokhotlong, Lesotho. The Sani Pass starts at 1544m and rises 1332 vertical meters to summit at 2876m. One of South Africa’s most magnificent roads, great for an afternoon or morning drive to nowhere.
I hope you will enjoy your time here.…Idid!