Tourism KZN is on a drive to re-energise and re-invigorate the province’s tourism industry and recently hosted visitors to some of the KZN Midlands’ hot spots.
In a media initiative, which also featured interaction on social media, the organisation highlighted some of our area’s most popular attractions, urging South Africans to make the most of these tourism gems.
#BrunchWithReggie Did you guess the Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Howick for the #thetravelbug?… Were clapping hands for you. #BelieveIt #BeHere #ThisIsWinterInKZN #KZNHasItAll @TourismKZN pic.twitter.com/n0zlSJtTlr
— Radio 2000 (@Radio2000ZA) May 22, 2021
“At the heart of the KZN Midlands is the popular Midlands Meander – an itinerary of art, handicrafts, restaurants and farm holidays – that is a retreat for holidaymakers with many cafes, art galleries, beautiful guesthouses, cheese farms, seamstresses, cobblers, trout farms, potters, weavers and painters who have made this region their home,” the tourism body noted in a media release.
With well over 150 places to eat, drink, shop and be merry, it “roughly stretches from Rietvlei and Curry’s Post to Dargle Valley and Fort Nottingham” – a total of about 80km of rejuvenating activities.
Locals know, however, that in any direction you branch off the main Meander, such as towards Underberg, or towards Wartburg or Winterton, for example, there are amazing treasures, some of them a “hidden secret” that are visited again and again to get bargains and regular treats.
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One of the historical sites along the Midlands Meander is the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, one of the most-visited memorial sites in KZN, with a visitor centre and a world-renowned sculpture of Mandela, designed by the South African artist Marco Cianfanelli.
Ayanda Nyandeni, tour guide at the Capture Site, said: “After a year of pandemic-induced lockdowns, people are looking to travel again. I am so excited that leisure tourism is coming back with a bang.
“While natural beauty abounds in the KZN Midlands, people who are looking to travel this winter holidays will also be well-advised to also take in some history linked to our nation’s hard-won freedom.”
“The Nelson Mandela Capture Site is a cultural and historical exhibition situated at the site at which Nelson Mandela was apprehended for his anti-apartheid activism acts in August 1952. There is a museum with videos and photographs that will give you goosebumps as the people’s Struggle is retold through sound and images,” said Nyandeni.
Fun and affordable
Owners of hotels, chalets, game lodges and holiday have been eagery welcoming visitors to the KZN Midlands since the more severe levels of lockdown ended and some have posted amazing specials on TKZN’s website making travel fun and affordable – see www.zulu.org.za
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The GM of the Midlands Meander, Marian Evans said: “The Midlands Meander is special because it offers its visitors an array of accommodation to choose from, beautiful autumn and cosy winter days, an abundance of wonderful cuisines and countless charming scenic areas to enjoy outdoor activities.
“Parents are now more aware of focussing on creating special memories with their children and we encourage more of these family holidays or day outings together.
“Farms stays with the family are a must; children can enjoy a visit to Endeavour Alpacas – Nirvana Farm, fly-fishing and horse riding.”
Mount Shekinah Country Hotel, near Michealhouse School, is another gem recommended for the bucket list.
The hotel’s GM, Silindokuhle Bhengu, said: “Our location is ideal, private and peaceful, offering visitors’ scenic views and amazing hospitality.
“Guests can enjoy horse-riding within the property, go for a hike or get cosy in the lounge area next to the fireplace.
“We also offer group bookings for those interested in hosting a private dinner event. Whether it’s a business luncheon, a casual dinner or a celebration event, our goal is to make every meal a memorable experience.”
For nature enthusiast and adventure seekers, Karkloof Canopy Tour, situated in a spectacular valley of the Karkloof Forest Reserve, offers 12 platforms and 10 zip-line slides, the longest of which is 200m.
Kai Schulz, MD at Karkloof Canopy Tour said: “The zip-line journey is safe and a fun adventure for people between the ages of six and 80 and over.
“It is the second largest indigenous forest in South Africa and is unique due to the incredible bird life which includes glimpsing emerald cuckoos, Knysna Turaco, a great variety of birds of prey and if you are lucky, the elusive Narina Trogon or endangered Cape Parrots.
“The forest also shelters a variety of mammals, but it is the loud cries of the Samango monkeys that you will remember best.”
Wine lovers, couples and families will enjoy a trip to Highgate Wine Estate, in the heart of the Midlands, which produces its own wines.
Terri Evans, GM of Highgate Wine Estate and Piggly Wiggly, said: “The Kassier family purchased the Highgate Farm which was then a small one-hectare vegetable farm.
“Thereafter, the Kassiers saw an opportunity, a need for fresh produce, and the concept of Piggly Wiggly was born.
“From this passion came Highgate Wine Estate, and in 2016, the first commercially produced bottle of wine was bottled and sold exclusively in their winery.
“Highgate now has five hectares of vines with a variety of Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz and visitors can relax and enjoy the wine-tasing and delicious foods.”
In the Nottingham Road area, the Bates family is always eager to welcome visits to the stunning Fordoun Hotel and Spa, where you can enjoy the country hotel atmosphere, a luxurious spa, lazy walks on their beautiful property, fine dining, sports, or a bottle of delicious wine on a chilly winter evening. And let’s not forget that it is among many fine wedding venues in the area.
Rawdons in Nottingham Road just oozes character, history and charm. Here you feel like you’ve been taken back decades to a slower pace of life in its magnificent country surrounds. Try the craft brew, which in our opinion, is comfortably the best in the Midlands.
Highly recommended by yours truly 😉 pic.twitter.com/nMJxV26vfL
— Yangena iVesaji Evanini!!! (@PhilaN91) September 16, 2020
Why not push on a little further and pop your head at Glengarry in the Kamberg. A family-friendly venue, Glengarry has loads of affordable accommodation, is a haven for trails and adventure sports enthusiasts, and they welcome guests at the weekend for a few drinks or lunch at the poolside. Put this one on your list for that memorable family holiday you’ve been needing for years. If you’re into fly fishing, the Kamberg is ideally suited, with many accessible stocked dams and pristine rivers.
And there is so much more, such as arts and crafts and collectibles, artisan foods, horse riding, golf, beer tastings, spa treatments, hot air balloon rides … farm stalls are a biggie in the Midlands and we’ve got markets and farm stalls for years. On your next Meander ask the locals … here are some of the best options.
For more on tourism in KwaZulu-Natal, watch the video here
Copy – Tourism KZN/Meander Chronicle
Places we love (in no particular order):
Mooi River Country Club
La Petite France
Indezi River Creamery
Taste Buds Farm Stall
Karkloof Farmers’ Market
Linga Lapa N2 Bakery
The Big Freeze
The Wine Cellar
Station Stop (Hilton)
Earth Route Market
Howick Meat Centre
The Everything Store
Tranquili-tea restaurant (Greytown)
BrigLee Coffee Shop (Wartburg)
Granny Mouse Country House
VT Coffee Cafe