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TOURISM KWAZULU-NATAL CELEBRATES SEPTEMBER TOURISM MONTH IN THE NORTHERN DRAKENSBERG

What better way to shrug off months of lockdown blues than to stretch the muscles and relax the mind during a cultural tourism experience in rural KwaZulu-Natal.

With September being Tourism Month, Tourism KZN is promoting everything from cosy huts to rustic hotels and farm to fork while encouraging the discovery of rural roots in keeping with the theme “Rural Tourism and Development”.

KZN MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube engaged with members of the media on a tour at Emazizini in an effort to draw tourism to the area and thereby transform the local economy through job creation and community upliftment.

The tour led by Ms Dube-Ncube coincided with the reopening of the country’s international borders on 1 October 2020 for business, leisure and other travel, under alert level 1 of lockdown. The tourism sector is looking forward to a bumper summer season and many accommodation venues have seen a rush in bookings.

Visitors are urged to experience the culture and language of the Zulu people throughout several destinations by interacting with villagers and learning more about their way of life and their practices, rituals and ceremonies.

“KwaZulu-Natal is all aligned with the strict health and hygiene protocols of Covid-19. We welcome visitors to the great escarpments of the Northern Drakensberg,” said Ms Dube-Ncube.

“We view job creation as critical for economic growth in the province and have put in place plans to have a speedy recovery of the tourism and hospitality industry.

“We should take advantage of visiting scenic destinations that are offering discounted packages amidst an abundance of diverse heritage and culture.”

“We are intensifying the roll out of the Local Government Tourism Capacity Building Programme for Tourism Practitioners and Communities. Our aim is to ensure that KZN is amongst the top tourist destinations. To achieve this vision, we have focused on enhancing our destination by improving infrastructure at various tourism magnets across local municipalities,” she said.

Media were treated to various thrilling tourism experiences with a visit to WOWZULU, a responsible tourism initiative that offers authentic community experiences in Emazizini. These ranged from a tractor-trailer ride up the mountain, to a guided inspiring village walk and craft lessons on basket weaving with master craftswomen.

There are magnificent sunrise and sunset scenic views at the Drakensberg world heritage site and fascinating views of the uThukela River with plunging waterfalls.

Go back home with captivating experiences of becoming part of the eMazizini village life for a day by taking part in different activities such as preparing fields; planting or harvesting; milking cows or herding cattle; or taking part in traditional ceremonies.

“Workshops are currently being conducted at all WOWZULU destinations to capacitate community businesses on Covid-19 hygiene measures. Each tourist attraction site ensures the health and safety measures are in place – masks are mandatory, and guests are screened on arrival,” said Bongiwe Mlangeni, Operations Manager at Africa Ignite.

Exploring Cathedral Peak Wine Estate in Winterton was one of the highlights of the media tour. A total of 29 hectares of vineyard leads into a game farm.

Tantalise your palette with the following varieties that are growing – Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Sauvignon Blanc.

Royal Natal National Park has some of the best mountain scenery in Africa and the visitors were blown away by the world-famous Amphitheatre, a rock wall approximately 5km in length and 500m high.

Hiking is the most popular activity in the park. Trout fishing can be done at the dam and in the Mahai and Thukela rivers. Swimming in the fresh mountain streams is a popular summertime activity.

Bongiwe Zuma, a journalist from Isolezwe, said she woke up with a smile on her face after long months of pandemic depression.

“Waking up to the scenery of  beautiful mountains this morning reminded me of how magnificent our province is and brought back childhood memories. I love long walks in nature and this media tour was most enjoyable. I thank Tourism KZN for the incredible opportunity.”

Lucky Cain, a journalist at Ilanga, said: “Waking up to the sounds of birds and ducks and a stunning view of the Drakensberg mountains took my breath away. Nothing beats this refreshing nature experience and I am grateful to Tourism KZN for a wonderful opportunity to enjoy parts of KZN.”

For further information on tour and cultural experiences please visit the website https://www.wowzulu.co.za/wowzulu-destinations-in-kwazulu-natal/emazizini-village-world-heritage-drakensberg-kwazulu-natal

The travelling public is urged to frequently visit the TKZN digital platforms for great specials on offer.

To remind you of the tourism sights, sounds and experiences on offer, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cU8rGVbBgCc


The St Lucia Experience With Samport Travel & Heritage Tours

I was one of the few influencers invited for the North Coast Takeover with Samport Travel by Heritage Tours in St Lucia. We were whisked from Durban via Cee Tours and checked in Umlilo Lodge while the other group spent their first night at Heritage house, after checking in we got to experience a sunset drive at St Lucia Dunes views and enjoyed a beautiful dinner in the bushes.

Travel Crew. Pic by Aluta Humbane.

The following day we had to wake up very early to get ready for The Big 5 Safari Game Drive and after driving around and spotting a few animals from the wild we stopped at Centenary Centre where the guys at Heritage tours prepared breakfast for us so we could continue with the road. Loved the items at Vulamehlo Craft Market but were not there for long as more hours of driving in the bushes awaited us. Lunch was had at Sontuli Picnic Spot and yes you may have guessed right, we had it my favourite way, South African braai style.

I am very grateful to have been asked by Miss Portia Mkhize to be a part of this experience and got to make new friends and future business associates. Asking Sanele from Bathathe CookOut about the tour, this is what he had to say;

“Bathathe being just a year old was quite fortunate to get such exposure. The variety of skills and knowledge from the group that was put together made it even more fruitful for Bathathe. The fact that we got to meet in such a relaxed environment made it easy to break the ice and connect. You often find that if you meet people purely on business terms in a formal setup it becomes difficult to know and understand their character but the trip gave us an opportunity to see people for exactly who they are beyond the profession they are in. The lodges we visited were beautiful and the fact that there are animals that roam the street at night in the area does give you a sense of being away from the busy life making you relax and refresh. The area does command you to keep it clean just by how it’s well maintained and kept clean by the locals and you can actually see that locals take pride in keeping it like that. The game drive was fun even though the weather wasn’t the favourable one. The team tasked with driving us around the reserve are very knowledgeable and comfortable in what they do which builds interest to the guests to want to know more about the reserve and even refer it to other outdoor lifestyle and nature lovers. Even though we could breakfast individually the dinner time with everyone around the table assured that we stayed engaged and touched base with everyone. As Bathathe we are about bringing people together through food and entertainment while giving the opportunity to the small business and art entrepreneurs a platform to showcase to that crowd so being in the midst of that group made us realize that we on the right track when we saw what wonderful and great things are being done by the different individuals in that group. We grow up being thought to study and finding a job in the corporate space and that entire group proved that there’s more to life for the youth do as entrepreneurs than being incorporate. We actually believe that given time to have more such meetings/outings will give birth to lifechanging collaborations. Thanks to Samport Travel, Umlazi Tourism and the Safari for giving an opportunity to be part of such. My highlight was Aluta being the glue for the entire group by making sure that sonke besiRight and laughing” – Says founder of Bathathe CookOut, Gcina Sanele Ndlovu.

Miss Portia Mkhize. Pic by Aluta Humbane.
Read my interview with Portia, founder of Samport Travel.
  • When was your company founded and what persuaded you to? That is a very broad question, – from the time I was young, I had a lot of opportunities to travel and study abroad, namely after being chosen to be Model United Nations ambassador, and my first international trip was to New York and Washington DC. And that is when the seed was first planted, I then came back and studied B.com a Wits University, and as my working career started, I worked in corporate, for businesses Like, Hollard, Discovery Health, FNB just to name a few, but my personality and what I was doing was just not making me happy until I met a lady from Flight Centre, who asked me to apply, and a month later after the long interview process, I was hired as flighty. And that is when “I fell in love with travel”…the excitement behind planning a holiday for someone else, and giving it your best, whether they have a beer budget or Champagne. The satisfaction of when they come back and say, thank you Portia, that was truly indeed an amazing holiday, you exceeded our expectations! That was satisfying enough for me, I was then manager at one of their branches in Fourways 8 months after joining, the group, it was exciting, and that is when I learned more about running the business. 4 years later I moved to Durban and worked for Comair ltd ( kulula and British Airways) and that is where I now larned about airport operations and that broadened my knowledge and understanding of Travel. And then one morning, I woke up and I told my mom, Ï am going to start my own travel agency…and the rest is still untold history.
  • What do you enjoy most about what you do? Apart from travelling, fam trips and other educational, I thrive on compliments, so doing my work so well and getting the recognition for what I do, and also empowering youth who want to join the travel industry, makes me enjoy my work better.
  • Which are some of the best tours you have taken in your company? The first time I took my interns to Johannesburg. It was their first time flying, sleeping at a hotel, and seeing Johbugh for the first time. And the excitement in their faces was priceless, and it made me realise that as a people, there some things that we take for granted. And obviously the trip we did now with @heritage tours and KZN influencers.
  • Which tours are common at Samport Travel? Let me put it this way we are not a tour operating company, we are a travel management company. We do leisure packages and corporate. Tours are part of the experience we give to our customers when they book both locally and internationally.
  • Have you had return clients? Why do you think it is important to have a good relationship with your clients? Half my monthly sales are based on repeat clients, and to me, that indicates that we must be doing something right.
  • Tell us about your academic records; With regards to travel, I have earned awards and numerous certificates, that have qualified me to do what I do. I did not study travel, I fell into travel and I wish when I was younger, we had options and it wasn’t just about being a doctor, teacher or an accountant, And I am not complaining about my accounting, it helps me manage the business a little bit better.
  • I know that you work with a lot of students, do you choose the institutions you prefer working with? I love sharing knowledge and upskilling youth. No, I do not choose the institutions I work with, for now, they have approached me. I am currently working on something to change that though….
  • Where did you go on your last international holiday? China and Thailand- 15 day trip with my family
  • Where are you hoping to go next? I would love to do Africa, there some amazing countries that are definitely on my bucket list.
  • What’s on your bucket list in terms of African Tourism this year? Duh! Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Zambia, Egypt, Mozambique and Lesotho.
  • What don’t you ever leave behind when travelling? Passport and body lotion.
  • 5 essentials you can not complete a day without? My phone, laptop, juice( I don’t like water), lipstick and my prescription glasses.
  • What’s next for Samport Travel? I am a dreamer, and to be an entrepreneur, you need to dream very big that your dreams give you nightmares. However on a short term basis, we are looking at adding new departments, within the company ( room for growth and to hire more interns- I can’t really say what, all I can say is that tourism students should keep glued to our pages, so that they don’t miss out)
  • What are you currently offering for first-time travellers? The beauty of travel is that there are no small or big holidays. Your heart guides you and I make suggestions, work around your budget and make sure, where ever we take you, you will have a blast and mostly get value for your money.
  • Motivation to tourism students? Tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world and South Africa is becoming one of the most popular destinations. So trust me, you are in the right place. And the best part is, you do not need money to participate in tourism, for example, I started my business with a laptop and a good Wifi connection. I always tell my students that, being on Florida road, or at the beach or even Ka Max, as soon as you take a picture and you post it, you have actively participated in tourism, accept for that picture will make the other person money. There are many ways of having s travel business, like for example, post pictures about your township, partner with people on your street that sell amagwinya, and #bestamagwinya Usection Umlazi, /call me ….…or the best beadwork and traditional wear, you will find @…#myculture my heritage…simple things like that, so that when tourist come, they know where to find you and what is exciting about your area. And stay informed, watch the travel channel, read travel novels and books and know your map.

10 Reasons to Visit the KZN South Coast this holiday

Visitors coming through to the KwaZulu-Natal this holiday should put the iconic South Coast on the itinerary. Already an established holiday destination, the local tourism implementing agency – Ugu South Coast Tourism (USCT) – is driving the ‘The Paradise of the Zulu Kingdom’ as an international attraction, boasting a range of exciting activities and heritage experiences all within some of the country’s most beautiful locations.

“There are so many reasons the KZN South Coast continues to draw in holidaymakers but one of our biggest strengths is the sheer diversity of the region,” explained Phelisa Mangcu, CEO of USCT. “From our Blue Flag Beaches and internationally-rated diving sites, through to our nature reserves and extreme outdoor activities, everyone is ensured of a really memorable holiday experience.”

If you haven’t yet visited the KZN South Coast and are in need of some convincing, here are 10 reasons to put this seaside location on your holiday schedule.

1.            KwaNzimakwe Multi-Trails

Get a taste of traditional culture and natural beauty through any of the three recently-opened multi-trails – the 20km 4×4 trail; 10-kilometre trail run; or the 4km hiking trail traversing the Mpenjati River valley.

2.            Shark Diving

Get an up-close experience with some of the oceans’ most important inhabitants with any number of reputable shark diving organisations.

3.            Wild 5 Adventures

Suspension bridges…wild water rafting…abseiling…foefie sliding…wild swing jumps…if it’s extreme, Oribi’s Wild 5 Adventures has it! Feel the ultimate adrenaline rush with this award-winning adventure company.

4.            Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve

Experience the grassland, parkland, wetland and coastal forest habitats indigenous to this area and home to more than 300 bird species and a variety of beautiful wildlife. Take it in with a hiking trail or 4×4 adventure – whatever suits your style!

5.            Surfing lessons

Find out what all the fuss is about by taking up some introductory surf lessons with any number of local surf schools. Become one with the waves this summer!

6.            Gamalakhe Township

Get a taste of local history during this enlightening township experience, discovering the history of forced removals and establishment of Tin Town. This is also home to the vibrant Ugu Sport & Leisure Centre was created as a practice stadium for the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, an ideal venue for conferences, events and exhibitions.

7.            Crocworld Conservation Centre

The perfect family day out can be found in Scottburgh’s Crocworld Conservation Centre, home to a wide variety of local birds and animals. Make sure to visit at 11am or 3pm for the crocodile feeding and talk. The December holiday programme also includes a snake demonstration at 10.15am, a vulture feeding every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 2pm, a fun (and safe!) snake and crocodile interaction session at 1.30pm daily. And don’t miss out on Henry the Nile Crocodile’s 119th birthday celebration on Monday, 16 December!

8.            Nkomba Conservation Area

Take a hike through the recently rehabilitated Nkomba site located within the Pennington Conservancy. This significant environmental gem gives visitors a view of what can be achieved when a space is transformed back to its natural status.

9.            MTB Trails

The incredible natural landscape within the KZN South Coast has seen mountain bikers countrywide and beyond drawn to the many well-maintained trails. Ingeli Forest Lodge, Lake Eland Nature Reserve, Clearwater Trails, Rocky Bay…and so many more trails to explore on the KZN South Coast!

10.          The Golf Coast

A golfer’s holiday dream, the region is home to 11 golfing destinations, most of them set against a backdrop of endless ocean views and designed within the indigenous coastal vegetation.

If you’re visiting the KZN South Coast around 13 December, you can expect to be personally welcomed by Mayor of Ray Nkonyeni Municipality (RNM), Cllr Cynthia Mqwebu! This annual Mayoral Roadblock is a time-honoured South Coast tradition that ensures visitors get a welcome from the top level of the region.

There’s so much to enjoy on the KZN South Coast! For more information on USCT and upcoming events, visit www.visitkznsouthcoast.co.za, the ‘South Coast Tourism’ Facebook page or @infosouthcoast on Twitter using the #travelsouthcoast #tourismsouthcoast #kznsouthcoast hashtags, or download the FREE ‘Explore KZN South Coast’ app (available mid-December).


Arts meets tourism through storytelling at Africa’s Travel Indaba

The unveiling of a wall mural at the African Tourism Indaba 2019 represents a big step forward in driving the opportunities culture can bring to tourism.

The wall mural was unveiled by the South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, following the opening of the trade floor at this year’s Africa’s Travel Indaba at the Durban International Convention Centre (Durban ICC) in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

Speaking at the unveiling, Michelle Constant, a member of the South African Tourism (SA Tourism) board, says one of the great challenges for South Africans is unlocking the great potential of its’ extraordinary historical and present culture.

“If we think about the five pillars of tourism, one of these is cultural roots and through this we can drive creativity. Today’s unveiling of this mural is an opportunity for we to demonstrate this,” said Constant.

She adds that art is key to opening the door to science, technology and engineering. “We are seeing a move from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) to STEAM, which is the inclusion of art because art is key to opening those spaces.”

Four artists came together to create the mural, which took a year to plan and 10 days to create.

“It was very pressurised to get it done, but it was exciting to come together with the other artists and produce something we are very proud of,” says artist Samora Chapman.

He adds that while the mural represents Durban and its inclusive spaces, this extends to the broader South Africa. “It includes symbols of South Africa and represents an inclusive not exclusive space.”

Mural artist, Sphephelo Mnguni says it was a great experience being part of this mural and working with other artists. For him the mural welcomes the world and opens its’ arms to everyone. “I would like people to view it and feel a sense of unity, peace, love and positive vibes.”

Kev Seven, another of the artists involved has been a graffiti artist for 12 to 15 years. “This mural is significant not only because it is one of a kind, but because it is the first mural of this kind in the Durban ICC.”

Constant encouraged visitors to the Africa Travel Indaba 2019 to find the time to stand in front of the mural, take a selfie and share it to the world. “We need the rest of the world to acknowledge our extraordinary culture.”


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