From the beaches and markets of Durban you'll travel to the cool hill town of Eshowe, where you'll experience the very best of Zulu hospitality, and perhaps have the chance to attend a traditional Zulu wedding or initiation ceremony. Next stop is a chance to catch up with the Big Five (and one of Africa's best conservation stories) at Hluhluwe-Umfolozi National Park. To complete your wildlife adventure, head to the coast to hang out with hippos and crocs amid the lagoons and unspoilt dunescapes of iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
Duration: 8 Nights / 9 Days
Route: Durban >> Eshowe >> Hluhluwe >> Umfolozi National Park >> St Lucia - Durban.
Tour Type: Self-drive with guided activities
Group size: Minimum 2 adults
On arrival you will be greeted and transferred to your accommodation in Central Durban. Remainder of the day at leisure. Accommodation and Durban Guesthouse or Hotel, BB
This morning discover the delights of downtown Durban on a guided walk, exploring the village-within-a-city atmosphere of the Muti traditional medicine market, and the Victoria Market where Indian traders ply their wares. Alternatively, take a guided cycling tour along the breathtaking Golden Mile and ocean promenade, passing by the spectacular new Moses Mabhida stadium.
The afternoon is at leisure.
Days 3 and 4
Collect your rental car and drive north to Eshowe, a market town set in cool hills on the fringe of the stunning Dlinza rain forest. This area has been home to a number of Zulu kings including the legendary King Shaka, and Eshowe makes an excellent base from which to learn about Zulu culture. Our local partners have strong links with the community, and depending on the day of the week, will guide you to one or more traditional ceremonies taking place in and around town.
Isangoma Healing Ceremony & Initiation
Every Wednesday and Sunday afternoon. These unique ceremonies take place in a traditional kraal in the beautiful Zululand countryside, surrounded by rolling hills and Zulu villages. Like many other South African tribes, the Zulu believe in the power of ancestral spirits to influence all spheres of life. The isangoma, or divine healer, possesses supernatural powers that enable him or her to communicate with the ancestors and "sniff out" the source of a person's problems, whether they are related to health, love or business. Isangomas therefore play a significant role among the Zulu nation and are assigned a very high status within society.
The training period to become an isangoma is long and intense. When the initiate finally proves that he or she (most Sangomas being women) has acquired the necessary skills, she is initiated in a ceremony, which visitors can attend. Expect drums, music and hypnotic chanting, as well as a chance to experience daily life in rural Zululand.
Traditional Zulu Ceremonies: Weddings, Coming of Age
Every Saturday and Sunday Zulu weddings and icece (coming of age ceremonies) are truly colourful and vibrant real life events, which take place against the idyllic backdrop of the Zulu countryside. As an invited guest, you will meet the families and watch while the preparations and final arrangements are being sorted out, while your guide will be on hand to explain all the pre-ceremony rituals and customs.
The Zulu are very enthusiastic about sharing their traditions with their guests. Once you have been introduced you are regarded as one of the family, and you will experience for yourself the amazing generosity of spirit of the Zulu people. This is also a chance to meet ordinary South Africans, to share life experiences and learn about real Zulu life as it is today – not dressed up for tourism.
Days 5 and 6
Travel north into the Maputaland region and on to Hluhluwe–Umfolozi National Park, the oldest game reserve in South Africa – and some claim the very best! Set in the heart of Zululand, this great verdant savannah where Shaka Zulu once hunted is home to the Big Five, as well as cheetah, giraffe and wildebeest, but the park is best known for its crucial role in bringing the African white rhino back from the brink of extinction.
Explore the 96,000 hectares of Hluhluwe-Umfolozi on self-guided game drives in your rental car, or get the benefit of local knowledge on a guided safari drive or a dawn walk. Accommodation is at Hilltop Camp http://www.kznwildlife.com/index.php?/HLUHLUWE-GAME-RESERVE-HILLTOP-CAMP.html
Days 7 and 8
Drive to the nearby town of St Lucia, the base for exploring the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park – recently renamed the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Get your bearings with a 2-hour Hippo & Croc Tour on Lake St Lucia, led by our Fair Trade-accredited partners Advantage Tours, where you'll see iSmangaliso's pristine mangroves and their wild inhabitants at close range.
The rest of the time is for your to explore the phenomenal dunes and estuaries at your leisure. Go birdwatching, hike, take a whale watching cruise, or chill out on the beach.
Accommodation at St Lucia Guesthouse.
Return to Durban and drop off your rental car at the airport.
Alternative to St Lucia
2-3 Days Kosi Forest Lodge http://www.isibindiafrica.co.za/kfl/
Located in a sand forest overlooking the Kosi Lake, this is the only private lodge in the Kosi Bay Nature Reserve in northern Maputaland. The lodge's location in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park makes it the ideal base to explore the surrounding estuaries, beaches and wilderness areas. The small and intimate lodge offers rustic yet comfortable accommodation in thatched bush suites. Activities available include guided canoeing, boat trips, a visit to the mouth of the Kosi, excursions to Tembe Elephant Park and the Raffia Palm forest, and turtle tracking in season (Nov-Mar).
Optional Beach Extension
2-3 Days Rocktail Beach Camp http://www.wilderness-safaris.com/south_africa_maputaland/rocktail_beach_camp/
An unmissable destination for scuba divers, Rocktail Beach Camp lies in the lush, tropical shade of the Maputaland Coastal Forest, with remote and unspoilt beaches nearby and the Maputaland Marine Reserve just offshore. This reserve offers world class diving and snorkelling, with beautifu coral formations and regular encounters with huge shoals of fish, dolphins and whales. Best of all, as a guest of the camp you are guaranteed to have them all to yourself.