Tourism, Accommodation and Historical Attractions in Natal, South Africa
The Natal Midlands
The Natal Midlands: Greytown
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The town briefly hit the world's headlines in 1906 when as a result of poll tax and other pressures, a local Zulu chief, Bambatha, rebelled and ambushed and killed four policemen. The result was a flurry of local defences that were thrown up until Bambatha and his followers were caught.
There are memorials to the policemen and a plaque at the rock where the ambush occurred.
At the edge of the town is a cairn marking the birthplace of the great soldier/statesman Louis Botha, who was born there in 1862. Louis was the 8th of 13th children and went on to become the first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa.
Outside the town are a number of opportunities to indulge in the great outdoors. Lake Merthley is the source of the town's water but is also a pleasant place to play on the water, to fish and to picnic.
There are also caravan and camping sites and ablutions. Umvoti Vlei is a nature reserve rich in wetland birdlife which can be viewed from a hide. There are also several privately run reserves that offer trails, game viewing, horse riding and accommodation.
The Ngome Community Game Ranch is a community owned 2000ha pristine piece of riverine valley bushveld. There are two camps: Bambatha's, which accommodates 12 in thatched en suite rondavels and Ihlamvankulu ('Big Bullet') Camp with three rondavels and a dormitory for 12. zebra, wildebeest, warthog, leopard and nyala are present.
Sevenoaks Conservancy: The Umvoti Vlei Bird Trail & Hide. Rich in birdlife.
45kms from the town is the Kranskop, an imposing headland that keeps watch over the Tugela River, meandering 700m below.
A Zulu legend tells of young girls, tired of carrying water from the river, who asked the Kop to give them sanctuary. A cave opened up in the side of the mountain and the girls were seen no more.
There are nature trails at Dulumbi (033 4441821) and Olifantshoek (033 4441678) as well as authentic Zulu cultural experiences at Ndondonwana (033 4440445) and Ngcolosi Tribal Authority (033 444 1814).
Tourist Information Centre, PO Box 71, Greytown 3250 033 444 0454.
Middledrift Ndondonwana Kranskop: Tugela Valley experience and Zulu history 033 444 1739.
The Ngcolosi Tribal Authority Kranskop: Traditonal food and hospitality 033 444 1814.
Olifantshoek Nature Trails: 033 444 1678.
This interesting provincial museum (which was the old magistrate's residence) is crammed with local memorabilia and charts the involvement of Greytown from pioneering days, the Anglo/Zulu War of 1879, the second Boer War of 1899 to the Bambatha rebellion of 1906.
There is a Victorian Children's room, a Hindu and Muslim room, a Zulu Culture room, a blacksmith's forge and a selection of farming equipment. There is also a Greytown history room, a display of medical items and office equipment.
Outside the museum are a number of larger items including a 1750 cannon brought to the town by 18 year old girl who was orphaned as a result of a shipwreck on the Wild Coast. She was accompanied on her journey of several hundred kilometres of untamed land by ten shipwrecked Zulus.
It also houses an old British Naval gun that was fired by the magistrate when mail arrived, about every two months. Email: email@example.com
PO Box 71, Greytown, 3500 09.00 - 12.30 & 14.00 - 16.00 weekdays.
Hermannsburg Mission House Museum
Also worth visiting near Greytown is the Hermannsburg Mission House Museum that displays the history of German missionaries and settlers in the region.
The Christian Revival movement in Lower Saxony in the 1840s resulted in many German missionaries coming to South Africa. Pastor Louis Harms in Hermannsburg, Germany was a leading light, training missionaries and even having a sailing ship - the Kandaze - built.
The museum building was erected by the missionaries in 1854 but the very first building, used as a scullery and smithy is one of the 3 oldest buildings in KZN still of original construction (sun dried bricks). It also forms part of the museum.
There is also woodwork and pottery on sale.
"Sarie Marais" is a popular Afrikaans song. Sarie Marais' grave is off the D479 on the Stanger road. Sarie Mare (note spelling) died at age 35 after her eleventh child.
In the same graveyard is Aya Jana who survived the Battle of Blaaukrantz by feigning death despite being prodded with assegais. She was brought up by the aunt and uncle of Sarie Mare, with whom she lived until the age of 93. The popular Afrikaans song comes from the American song 'Elee Rhee'.
The spa (38kms on the Stanger road) was compared with the best in Europe until it fell into disrepair in the 60s. It is now the centre of a major community redevelopment.
Shu Shu Hot Springs
The hot springs lie on an island in the centre of the Tugela River below Kranskop. Camping is permitted on the island only during July.
The Blinkwater Trail
South of Greytown is the Blinkwater Trail - 100kms of trails over a plateau that is the source of the Umvoti River through indigenous forest past lakes and waterfalls.
There are two day to six day hikes that take visitors to saw pits, hunting pits and through an abundance of birdlife. The trails are operated by the Umvoti Wildlife Society in conjunction with Ezemvelo Wildlife and Mondi and SAPPI Timber. Hikers are accommodated in one of either three camps in bunkrooms.
The Silo Trail is a one or two day hike through thornveld with a variety of buck. There is a vulture restaurant and a farm dam for swimming. Visitors stay either in silos or ronadavels.
Montello: 3500 acres of private game ranch. The private lodge provides good food in a comfortable surrounding and there are also rondavels and game viewing from horseback.
Mhlopeni Nature Reserve on the road to Muden has game trails, San paintings, old wagon trails and offers two and six bed camps.
Bamabatha's Kraal on the Keats Drift road offers self catering rondavel accommodation with game walks.