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Sited high on a hill, Eshowe was once the capital of Zululand and a place where Zulu kings ruled over their people. The town is located in one of the most fertile areas of the KwaZulu-Natal Province and bounded by an untouched, primitive forest. A drive into Eshowe takes the traveller through lush green sugar cane fields dotted with Zulu kraals and wilderness areas.
The fine weather is a talking point in Eshowe and the residents boast that the town’s elevated position escapes the mugginess experienced by the high humidity that occurs in other parts of the province.
Eshowe is filled with history and the museum is the best place to begin your journey of the area. Although the town is somewhat remote, there are shopping centres, a golf course and most conveniences to make a stay enjoyable. However, the bright lights of Durban and the excellent swimming beaches in KwaZulu-Natal are only an hour’s drive from Eshowe.
Top 6 reasons to visit Eshowe
1. Dlinza forest is an ancient coastal scarp forest that surrounds the town. Mist shrouds the forest in the early morning, giving it a sense of mystique. A lovely walking route through the forest crosses a 125m aerial boardwalk high amongst the trees to reach a view site.
2. The Anglo-Zulu Battlefields route takes in Eshowe and other surrounding towns. Pick up a map and travel the routes to visit the various museums, forts, remembrance memorials and old cemeteries. The spectacular scenery along the route is an added bonus.
3. Set aside half a day to visit the Fort Nongqayi museum. The museum has a number of attractions that include the Zululand historical museum, a museum of the town’s old mission station, the Vukani Zulu cultural museum which has the largest display of Zulu art in the world, an art gallery showcasing work done by prisoners, an arboretum, curio shops and restaurant.
4. Arrange for a local guide to take you to a traditional Zulu village to discover aspects of their way of life, such as a snake ceremony, storytelling, a consultation with a traditional leader and song and dance. Expect to be invited for a meal.
5. Try the local fare at Shisa Nyama restaurant in Shakaland. While there, watch the spear throwing event and participate in a beer drinking ceremony.
6. The Eshowe Mpushini Falls consists of seven sparkling waterfalls found along a pathway and a short distance from the town centre. The best time to visit is after good rains.
King Shaka International Airport is located 114km from Eshowe. The airport in Richards Bay is 90km away for chartered flights. There are many car rental agencies in Durban city centre, Richards Bay and at King Shaka airport to hire a vehicle, or you could order a vehicle online. Three taxi operators are based in Richards Bay for transport to Eshowe but fees are costly and it’s best to hire a car.
Did you know?
The word Nkosi means the revered one, chief or king in Zulu. In Xhosa, the word describes God. The first line in South Africa’s national anthem ‘Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika’ translates to God bless Africa.
The bright yellow clivia plant was first discovered in Eshowe.
Stories handed down tell of Zulu king Shaka hiding his wives and children in the Dlinza forest when his homestead was under attack.