This year, the spotlight will be on KZN as it hosts the activities for the annual Tourism Day. With a plethora of beautiful beaches along South Africa’s east coast, Empangeni serves as one of the province’s hidden tourism gems. With rich cultural history and a wealth of nature experiences, if this town has not yet been on your bucket list – now is the time to add it.
For many years, the province of KwaZulu-Natal has been a must-visit for local and international tourists, with the highlights being the city of Durban and its perfect beaches or the Drakensberg, famous for the Sani Pass and its hiking trails. Equally as charming and exciting are the smaller, hidden gems this province has to offer, more specifically, Empangeni.
Located roughly 150km outside of Durban, the town of Empangeni was first known as a Nowergian Missionary town, and is situated along the Mpangeni River. With the arrival of Tourism Month, we list some of the best experiences available, whether you’re travelling for business, as a family, or for adventure.
Perfect home base
Staying in a convenient spot, close to all local activities is ideal, and BON Hotel Empangeni is located in the heart of the town’s central business district, half-way between Durban and Swaziland and 15km from Richards Bay. A mere five minutes’ drive from museums, restaurants and a casino, it’ll serve as a great home base for your exploration into Empangeni. If you’re around on the 27th September, they’ll be hosting a Heritage Day buffet filled with authentic, traditional cuisine.
The rich history of Zululand
South Africa is a country filled with centuries of history, and a significant part of that history is rooted in the Zulu culture, which can be explored at the Empangeni Art and Cultural History Museum. Erected in 1916 by the sugar farmers, the museum first served as the Old Town Hall, where locals held weddings, dances, concerts and other social gatherings. On your visit, you’ll see extensive historical objects collected to preserve the history of the town, and works by renowned artists like Andrew Verster, Trevor Makob and Bonnie Ntshali.
A haven for bird watching
The Zululand birding route stretches along the east coast, spreading across towns like Eshowe, Kozi Bay, Richards Bay and St. Lucia. Birding has grown in recent years, and the Sani Pass area was recently voted as one of the top ten birding hot spots in Southern Africa by TripSavvy. Exciting birds to keep an eye out for in the area include the Drakensberg rockjumper, the Gurney’s sugarbird, the bush blackcap and the Barratt’s warbler.
Pay the big five a visit If you’re taking a road trip through KwaZulu-Natal province, a drive to Empangeni will be worth your while. Visit Thula Thula Game Reserve for a close-up look at some of the country’s wildlife including elephants, buffalos, rhinos, leopards and birds. The reserve was established in 1911 and covers an impressive 4500 hectares of land. They have a variety of packages to choose from, including overnight options, should you wish to spend a few days and soak up the nature for longer.