KwaZulu Natal boasts a variety of cultural experiences. The province is deeply rooted in the legacy of the great Zulu nation, providing multiple opportunities for visitors to explore various cultural experiences the province has to offer.
Visitors can learn about King Shaka, the great Zulu military leader; visit the site of the most brutal battle for the Zulu throne after King Shaka’s death, eNdondakusuka; the Anglo-Zulu war where two battles were fought in the north coast, or learn about Mahatma Gandhi, whose philosophies inspired anti-Apartheid activists. Gandhi showed his humility during this time when he provided medical assistance to Chief Bambatha’s injured soldiers during the Bambatha Rebellion.
Tourvest Destination Management offers the Shakaland Nandi Experience, a guided tour that allows guests to experience Zulu culture on a full-day tour to the largest kraal (homestead) in Zululand. Here guests are awarded the opportunity to visit a traditional healer and observe their ancient practices, sample beer, and see weapons used by Shaka Zulu to forge an empire.
Craig Rutherfoord, Managing Director of Ghost Mountain Inn, said being in the heart of the Zulu Kingdom, there are a variety of opportunities to meet locals, and discover and experience Zulu culture first-hand. He said Ghost Mountain Inn offered an authentic experience of rural Zulu culture.
Guests visit a local homestead up in the Lebombo Mountains, where they meet the Headman and his family. The visit may be curated to include a food and beer sampling, a visit to a Sangoma (traditional healer), or a lesson on how to stick fight with some of the locals.
The tour also caters for the more energetic traveller, with a community hike through the Myeni ancestral lands and offers hikers the chance to meet more of the community, as well as take in the views from the top of the Lebombo cliffs towards Lake Jozini.
Aha Shakaland is 160 km north of Durban, in Eshowe, a renowned cultural village tourist attraction.
Aha Shakaland offers 55 traditional thatched Zulu rondavels, comprising twin standard rooms for two adults sharing, double standard rooms for two adults and two children sharing, and family rooms for up to four people. All are en-suite.
It features authentic African décor, complete with wooden furnishings and signature Shakaland Nguni hide mats.
Guests can explore the rich heritage of the Zulu people that is depicted through the ‘Cultural Nandi Experience’. This experience is a three-hour daytime adventure named in honour of King Shaka’s mother, Nandi. It starts with a walk through the village, with a stop at the local sangoma. This is followed by a traditional Zulu beer drinking ceremony. Guests will also learn more about the fighting formations invented by King Shaka. Guests also witness traditional stick fighting demonstrations, and try their hand at spear throwing.
This is followed by a stop at the market, where arts and crafts, including beadwork, carvings and woven baskets, are displayed.
Dining at aha Skakaland gives guests a truly Zulu African experience with a Zulu feast and forms an intrinsic part of the whole cultural experience. Food is prepared on an open fire in the restaurant. ‘Shisa Nyama’ is a traditional method of preparing the meals, with an open flame and three-legged pots.
Guests are shown the traditional methods of how food was prepared, from a maiden grinding corn into maize meal, to the brewing of traditional beer.
Dumazulu Traditional Village in Hluhluwe, allows guests to learn about Zulu culture over a traditionally cooked meal, paired with a vibrant Zulu dance from the local tribe.
Ardmore, founded in the Midlands, was established in 1985 by Zimbabwean-born ceramic artist Fée Halsted on Ardmore farm in the foothills of the Drakensberg. Today one will find a bustling studio, gallery and museum in the Caversham Valley.
Halsted originally took her first student, Bonnie Ntshalintshali, who was her housekeeper’s daughter, and disabled due to polio, and within five years the two found national and international recognition. Soon more members from the local community signed up and today, Ardmore is a collaboration of 40 artists under Halsted’s mentorship.
Photo credits: Patrick Mavros.
Ardmore ceramic art exhibition in London
Ardmore combines ceramic art techniques with African colour and folklore. Since its beginnings, Ardmore has branched out into colourful fabrics too, recently collaborating with the international brand, Hermès.
The collaborative work of Ardmore and Hermès.
The Voortrekker Msunduzi Museum in Pietermaritzburg was created in 1912 to profile the Voortrekkers of the KZN region. The museum has since become fully representative of the different cultures of the area, while retaining a focus on the history and culture of the Voortrekkers.
The museum displays the political shift towards integration and democracy. One of the most notable on-site attractions is the Church of the Vow, which was built in 1839 by the Boers to fulfil a promise that they would construct it in return for victory at the Battle of Blood River.
Further down the road, an extension of the museum sits one of the oldest original Voortrekker houses, dating back to the 1800s. The building focuses on the concentration camps that were established by the British in Natal during the Second South African War (Anglo-Boer war).