Tourism, Accommodation and Historical Attractions in Natal, South Africa
Towns: Richards Bay
Zululand: Richards Bay
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The Anglo/Zulu War of 1879 lead the British to survey the coast of Zululand with a view to landing supplies. The lagoon of the Mhlatuze was regarded as a prime spot but no development took place. After World War 2, with Durban harbour becoming increasingly congested, attention was again turned towards Richards Bay.
A bulk harbour was constructed and opened in 1976 with a direct rail line to the Witwatersrand. The port is smaller than that of Durban but handles a greater tonnage with vessels up to 250,000 tons being accommodated.
The port now handles 65 million tones of cargo annually of which coal exports contribute 51 million tons. The town is best known as host to a mammoth aluminium smelting plant and fertilizer plant.
Four hundred hectares were put aside on the lagoon as the Richards Bay Park with a berm to protect it from the rest of the bay. In 1891, John Dunn shot the largest crocodile ever seen - at 6.7m (over 20ft).
Lake Mzingazi is a freshwater lake within the town itself and is home to numbers of crocodiles, hippos and waterbirds. The bay also contains a crocodile sanctuary (035 7534186) where hikers can enjoy several trails amongst giraffe and zebra. A raised walkway takes visitors around the reserve. There are school visits, feeding on Sundays at 11.30, the Croctales Curio Shop, the Croc Restaurant and the Coco Bay nursery.
The town centre is currently undergoing expansion with a Carribean touch. Aside from its proximity to a number of Ezemvelo Wildlife and Private Reserves, the area is noted for its surfing and fishing. One can also undertake a 60km drive northwards along the beach to Mapelane.
The town is the centre of the Tuzi Gazi Coast which stretches from Mtunzini in the South to St. Lucia in the north. TuziGazi is derived from Lake Mzingazi and the Mhlatuze (forceful) River which flows into Richards Bay.
Zulu life maybe experienced at Enseleni, Vulidlela and other communities through the Richards Bay Tourism Association.
Richards Bay Nature Reserve
This coastal reserve is well known for its birding, including several migrant species. There are areas of coastal swamp forest and a bird viewing hide. There are also hippos and crocodiles and the reserve is popular with anglers.