elephant herd KwaZulu-Natal park

Image: Barbara Fraatz/Pixabay

Tourism KZN promotes northern parks to draw visitors back

Tourism and Heritage Month puts the spotlight on rural development in this lush province of South Africa.

elephant herd KwaZulu-Natal park

Image: Barbara Fraatz/Pixabay

Tourism KZN is promoting its northern parks and game reserves through its digital platforms in the hope of rejuvenating tourism. It also hopes that this will enhance rural development.

This drive includes the Unesco World Heritage iSimangaliso Wetland Park and Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.

September is South Africa’s annual Tourism Month and 2020 has the theme of “Tourism and Rural Development”.

KwaZulu-Natal has majestic mountain ranges, numerous cultural and historical sites, two Unesco World Heritage Sites, beautiful beaches and an azure sub-tropical ocean

This beautiful province on the east coast of South Africa is also home to several world-class game reserves and parks. 

Tourism KZN acting CEO Phindile Makwakwa said the promotion offered a wide variety of accommodation options. These ranged from camping and private game lodges to hotels, flats and chalets in St Lucia. She said all had strict COVID-19 hygiene protocols in place.

Makwakwa said the iSimangaliso Wetland Park showed how tourism could be a catalyst for economic empowerment and employment creation in rural areas.

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Stretching from Kosi Bay in the north to Cape St Lucia in the south, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a unique mosaic of ecosystems.

The park ranges from swamps, wetlands and lakes to coastal forests, grasslands, woodlands, coral reefs and beaches.

The World Heritage Site  reserve is home to a diverse array of animal species, including South Africa’s largest population of hippos and crocodiles.

It is also one of the most popular birding, fishing, and scuba-diving destinations in the country.

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park

Formerly known as the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park boasts 96 000 hectares of wilderness in Central Zululand. It is the oldest proclaimed reserve in Africa, opening in 1895.

The park is the only reserve in the region that is home to the Big Five.

It is also renowned for its white rhino conservation programme. This has seen thousands of rhinos protected in the park over the last 70 years.

Nested between the two Umfolozi Rivers, the park features a diverse range of landscapes. These range from the marshy wetlands, rolling grasslands and acacia-dotted savannah to the higher, hilly countryside with lush valleys and dense woodlands.

The park has more than 80 species of game, ranging from water-loving Nile crocodiles and wallowing hippos to statuesque giraffe. There are also packs of black-backed jackals, spotted hyena and a variety of antelope species, including the nyala.

The Elephant Coast

The Elephant Coast is a natural paradise that is home to myriad different ecosystems.

In the words of the late Nelson Mandela:

“The world’s oldest land mammal (the rhinoceros) and the world’s biggest terrestrial mammal (the elephant) share an ecosystem with the world’s oldest fish (the coelacanth) and the world’s biggest marine mammal (the whale).”

Towering forested dunes stretch along the protected coastline for miles. Long white sandy beaches host vast numbers of nesting turtles.

Wide rivers wash through broad flood plains and large coastal lagoons spill out into the ocean feeding thousands of marine creatures.

Deep coastal lakes are full of hippo, crocodiles, and a variety of fish.

Swamp forests have massive raffia palms which attract the rare, indigenous palm nut vulture, and a variety of beautiful birds.

The Elephant Coast is famous for its game reserves such as Tembe Elephant ParkNdumo, and Mkuze Game Reserves. Tembe is home to some of Africa’s largest tuskers while Mkuze is famous for birdlife There is also the private and highly sought-after reserve of Phinda.