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The tiny village of Dargle is in the scenic Natal Midllands. It, and the stream alongside, was named by an Irish emigrant after a stream in Dublin, Ireland. The Dargle stream is a tributary of the vast Umgeni River that rumbles through the Natal Midlands on its 230km journey out to sea at the port city of Durban in the KwaZulu-Natal Province.
Dargle is in the beautiful Midlands Meander, which has routes that traverse this area . Every turn of the head presents interesting pastoral scenes or a venue that may catch the eye, with the majestic Drakensberg Mountains as a backdrop. Temperatures range from warm summers to chilly winters with snow-capped mountain peaks.
Surrounded by evergreen grasslands, waterfalls, bubbling streams and forest, Dargle has a charm that attracts visitors year upon year for a true country experience.
Things to do
Dargle is based in the centre of the Midlands Meander routes 3 and 4. These routes are designed to travel along to appreciate the vast entertainment facilities, eateries, wines and crafts showcased in the region. Pick up a pair of Tslops (handcrafted slops) from Tsonga Shoes, à la mode the world over.
Visit the Midmar Nature Reserve to explore the park on foot where zebra, various buck species and small mammals roam. Birdlife is prolific in the park. There are zoned areas for fishing and boating on the Midmar Dam.
For something more extreme, opt for a 2-hour Karkloof Canopy Tour which includes a light lunch. The 8 zip lines over the forest canopy range from 40m to 180m in length.
The nearby 95m Howick Falls are surrounded by mystery and legend. Local Zulu clans believe a giant serpent lurks below the falls, to be approached only by a Sangoma (witch doctor). The area is ideal for picnics and there is a trail that leads down to the base of the waterfall.
Visit Piggly Wiggly village at the Highgate Wine Estate to visit the upmarket craft stores, boutiques and art gallery. Taste before purchasing at the specialist cheese and dairy shop and onsite wine store. The steam train and play park will keep the children thoroughly entertained.
Where to Eat
Located on route 3, Il Postino Pizzeria and Sports Bar is a family run Italian restaurant serving wood-fired pizzas and excellent pasta dishes to appreciative diners. Outdoor children’s play park, shaded patio and pub on the premises.
Piggly Wiggly restaurant offers scrumptious breakfasts, fresh bakes, toasties and wraps to be enjoyed with coffees brewed to perfection.
The Snooty Fox restaurant at the Fernhill Hotel and Conference Centre has an à la carte menu offering a wide range of interesting and enjoyable dishes. The Sunday carvery is popular with the locals.
Corner Post Restaurant and Bar in Howick is a lovely venue where intimate dinners can be enjoyed inside or on the more relaxed outside patio. The popular menu consists of Italian classics and meat dishes, however, burgers and light meals are also available. Closed on Wednesdays.
Being out in the country means cuddling alongside the fire on cold nights or out on the patio with your favourite glass of wine and marveling at the stars above you, on a warm summer evening.
Pietermaritzburg is a 35km drive from Dargle to enjoy a night out at one of the many clubs and bars frequented by the students residing in this city.
Where to Stay
The hotels, lodges, guest houses, country houses, farms and cottages cater for every need and all offer a peaceful stay with stunning 360° views of valleys, rivers and mountains.
Air The nearest airport is King Shaka International Airport, 140km from Dargle.
Car There many car rental agencies in Durban city centre and at King Shaka airport to hire a vehicle, or you could order a rental online.
Taxi You may find a shuttle service company willing to transfer you to Dargle, however, the cost is prohibitive and to most enjoy the area, hire a car.
Did you know?
The Midmar Mile is the world’s largest open water swimming event, staged since 1974 and included in the Guinness Book of Records. Over 16000 local and international swimmers attempt the Mile annually. Even if you don’t participate, seeing the thousands of bodies thrashing in the water is a fantastic spectacle.
In the 1870s, a Howick resident named John Household shot a vulture, then used the bird’s wing construction to create a glider made from bamboo and oiled silk. The first glider failed completely, but with his 2nd attempt he managed to float 100m over a ravine before crashing into a tree. He broke his leg and his mother refused to allow him to fly again!