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Itinerary: Kwa-Zulu Natal & Swaziland

Kwa-Zulu Natal & Swaziland

Get up close with the peoples and animals of the Zulu and Swaziland Kingdoms! Visit the Battlefields and learn about the historical events in the region

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Kwa-Zulu Natal & Swaziland

]Day 1 - Durban
Your guide will collect you from the airport in Durban. In the Sunshine City we spend the afternoon at leisure visiting uShaka Marine World. Incorporating fresh and sea water, the 5th largest aquarium in the world and an amusement park, uShaka is a complete \'Marine World\'. From the mysteries of the ocean floor to the wonders above, find treasures in the speciality stores on site. There is also Sea World, Dolphin World, the Seal Stadium and Penguin Rookery - with specially designed viewing windows to enable you to see the animals both above and below the water. Late afternoon we book into Acorn Guest House, overlooking Durban. The gracious old 1930\'s Durban home is surrounded with Acacias and palms, and a private garden is packed with tropical vegetation and bird-life in abundance. Durban has one of the largest Indian populations outside of India, so dinner tonight is the perfect opportunity to sample a true Indian curry!

DAY 2 - Midlands Meander
We head inland along the Midlands Meander. Started many years ago as a collection of crafters who wondered if they could attract visitors to leave the beaten track and explore their studios and galleries, the Midlands Meander has grown into an eclectic and fascinating mix of arts and crafts. Physical, culinary or cerebral, there is no limit to the experiences you\'ll find here. We visit PheZulu, a traditional Zulu Village overlooking the Valley of 1000 Hills, where the Gasa clan entertain us with their dance routine. We also enjoy a tour of the traditional village and visit the sangoma (witch doctor). We finally arrive in Dundee, where we book into Zulu Wings Lodge and enjoy a traditional South African “braai” (BBQ) for dinner.

DAY 3 - Dundee
After breakfast, we head back in time to visit some of the battlefields that have made this area famous. We will be joined by a specialist battlefields guide. Our first stop is the Battle of Isandlwana and the Battle of Rorkes Drift. These 2 encounters between the Zulu’s and the mighty British Empire have gone down in history. During the Battle of Isandlwana, the Zulu’s wiped out almost an entire regiment of the mighty British Empire – the greatest defeat Britain ever suffered from a native force. Rorkes Drift, on the other hand, holds the record of the most Victoria Crosses (11) ever awarded during a single encounter. Then we step into the Zulu/Boer war and visit Blood River, where a life-size laager of brass oxwagons commemorate the battle where 150 Boers defeated 6000 Zulu warriors.

Day 4 - Dundee
Today is often cited as a highlight of their tour by many of our guests. We venture into rural Zululand for a glimpse into the life of the modern-day Zulu’s. This is not a staged or planned trip and we meet the Zulu’s as they go about their everyday life. Your knowledgeable guide will explain the intricacies of the Zulu lifestyle and culture. You will also have the opportunity to approach the locals (with the help of your guide) and if you are in luck, to make purchases of artifacts and genuine Zulu memorabilla.

The rural Zulu communities of Kwa-Zulu Natal are some of the poorest in the country. Many do not have access to running water, electricity or even medical care. On one hand, this has helped preserve the Zulu way of life - on the other, these communities have very little. If you would like to make a much appreciated donation, this is where it would be best utilised. Clothing, toys and educational material is in high demand. If you have any old clothing or shoes you do not want to take home after your long trip through Southern Africa, here is a good place to drop it off. Alternatively, you may want to make a financial contribution when making your booking. This financial contribution will go towards buying toys and educational material which you will take with you on the day to personally hand out. Please note that we are not affiliated to any charity institute or organisation. There is no quick-fix to solve the problems these communities face, but this is something we promote to make a small difference in the lives of the individuals we encounter during our visit.

Day 5 - Hluhluwe-Unfolozi Game Reserve
After an early breakfast we head straight into the heart of Zululand and the old hunting grounds of the legendary King Shaka. This area is today known as the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve. This reserve was founded in 1895, making it the oldest game reserve in South Africa. It was here that the world acclaimed Operation Rhino was introduced in the 1960\'s, which turned the tide on rhino conservation. At least a fifth of the world\'s Black and White Rhino populations are found in this 96 000ha park. We enjoy an afternoon game drive, seeking out the rhino that have made this park famous, as well as the other members of the Big 5.

Day 6 - Pongola
We chase you out of bed early to enjoy a game drive as the bush awakens. This is the best time for game viewing. After breakfast, we take a leisurely game drive out the park and visit Illala Weavers. This project was established to revitalize the age-old Zulu tradition of handcrafts, which were in danger of being lost forever. Ilala helps over 2000 Zulu people attain self sufficiency by working from their homes, retaining their lifestyle and rich heritage of basket weaving and bead work passed through the generations. After viewing the many crafts on display and for sale, we continue north to Pongola Private Game Reserve. We spend two nights at Mvubu Game Lodge, surrounded by bushveld savannah and the Lebombo mountains.

Day 7 - Pongola
You have a choice of either an early morning game drive in an open safari vehicle, or going Rhino tracking (where we see how close we can get to the Rhino on foot!). In the late afternoon we also enjoy a game cruise on the Pongola dam (a great way to see the animals as they come to drink). Pongola Game Reserve also has a Spa where you can pamper yourself. Enjoy an open-air massage, surrounded by the African bush - what better way to end off an African safari?

Day 8 - Mkhaya Game Reserve
After an early breakfast, we travel north into Swaziland. We head straight for Mkhaya Game Reserve, where we will be met by open Land Rovers for a very different type of safari. Mkhaya accommodates white rhino, elephant an numerous antelopes such as nyala and eland. It also operates as a refuge where endangered species such as roan and tsessebe antelope are bred. What makes Mkhaya so unique is that, rubbing shoulders with the game, are herds of Nguni cattle! The long-horned Nguni were herded by African clans when Europeans first encountered them. Although hardy, disease-resistant and well adapted to the environment, white beef-farmers regarded them as puny and unproductive and replaced them with imported stock. By 1970 pure strains of Nguni had virtually disappeared and Ted Reilly initially purchased Mkhaya to save them. The sharp increase in the price of cattle feed in the late 1970’s made the Nguni very attractive commercially, enabling Reilly to sell them as pure-bred stock and using the money to fund the game programme at Mkhaya. Today these indigenous cattle graze here alongside zebra, wildebeest and antelope - just as they always used to - making the reserve economically self-supporting. Mkhaya’s other claim to fame is that you are more likely to encounter Black Rhino in the wild here than anywhere else in Africa (6 Black Rhino were originally donated by the Taiwanese government as a gesture of good will and they are breeding well). Mkhaya is staffed and patrolled entirely by Swazis from neighbouring communities and currently boasts what is arguably Africa\'s most effective anti-poaching unit. We spend the night at Stone Camp. This is the \"real deal\' as far as getting closer to nature. Smaller game such as warthog visit the camp whilst the big game, such as elephant, is kept at bay outside the camp by a three-strand electric cordon. Units are laid out individually and each unit is totally private due to the thick vegetation. The entire internal structure of these cottages, although veiled for privacy, is open to the external bush, which gives visitors a totally unique, true bush experience.

Day 9 - Halane Royal National Park
We enjoy breakfast and continue north to the Hlane Royal National Park, held in trust for the Nation by His Majesty King Mswati III. We book into our accommodation and visit a local traditional Swazi village. We will be accompanied by a Hlane field guide. On arrival the field guide will give the women in the group traditional Swazi attire, (a wrap known as Emahiya), which, in respect of the Swazi culture, the women will wrap around them as a skirt - it is not correct to show your legs. This Umphakatsi Chief Village is a real living homestead – a real hands on experience - and so worth a visit! You will be invited into their homestead where you will learn about the Swazi life style. The iNkhosikati (the mother of the Chief) of the village will welcome you. You will be taken to a hut where you must take of your shoes and if you happen to be carrying a stick, you have to leave it outside. When entering the hut, women enter to the left and the men to the right. You\'ll find mats on the ground for you to sit on and there you can try your hand at grinding maize, perhaps carrying a calabash on your head and plaiting grass (making ropes which they use for thatching their homes) while singing some traditional songs. You may also sample some traditional brew whilst watching the entertainment put on by the local boys and some of the women, the Sibhaca dance. This is a fantastic experience and you will gain knowledge of some traditional Swazi cultural events like the Umhlanga Dance (reed dance) and lusekwane (cutting of sickle bush for the King to make the Royal Kraal). A trip not to be missed where you will be enlightened to the Swazi way of life! We return to Hlane for a late afternoon game drive, perhaps being lucky enough to spot the king’s magnificent lions – the symbol of royalty and the pride of Swaziland. We return to camp for dinner.

DAY 10 - Ezulwini Valley
We leave Hlane after breakfast and travel through Manzini - the capital of Swaziland - before arriving in the Ezulwini Valley. The street stalls in Ezulwini are crammed with exquisite wooden sculptures and crafts. A popular purchase is a bright hand-woven basket in zigzag designs of greens, purples, yellows and reds. We visit some of the craft markets. Also worth visiting is the famous Swazi Candles workshop (where you can watch the artisans hand sculpt every imaginable pattern and shape from wax) and the Guava Gallery (the only manufacturing jeweler in Swaziland, with very different designs - with variety such as gold and silver jewellery cleverly entwined with elephant and giraffe hair, woven bracelets and bangles). We book into Mantenga Lodge, situated among natural surroundings at the foot of Sheaba’s Breasts Mountains and overlooking the legendary Execution Rock. The afternoon is spent at leisure. The National Museum & Archives, the Houses of Parliament, King Sabuza II Memorial Centre and the Swazi Cultural Village are all within a 3km radius of the lodge and your guide will be happy to escort you to any of these.

DAY 11 - Johannesburg
We leave Swaziland after a leisurely breakfast, via Oshoek Border Post, but not before stopping at Ngwenya. At the summit of Ngwenya Mountain is is the world\'s most ancient iron ore mine, dating back 43 000 years and at its foot is a remote village. Here a small group of Swazi craftsmen and women - with age old artistry - breath life into enchanting interpretations of the animals and birds of Africa, imbuing each with its own irresistible personality. Witness first-hand the magical art of glassblowing from an overhead balcony. Each item handmade from 100 % recycled glass! We head back to Johannesburg, where we drop you off at your gust house or the airport.

Included in Price
The price will include all transport, meals, entrance fees, activities, guides and accommodation during the tour, as indicated in the itinerary. The tour will be done in an air-conditioned vehicle.

Excluded from price
International flights, Accommodation before and after the tour, lunches, drinks and curios, travel insurance, required inoculations and malaria medications, visas (if required).

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