In an effort to transform the local economy and promote sustainable job creation, this Tourism Month will celebrate rural tourism initiatives with the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) South Coast announcing a number of exciting projects along this theme, including the innovative Umzumbe River Trail.
“Developing rural tourism has always been a key focal point for Ugu South Coast Tourism (USCT) as it is one of the most effective ways of ensuring the tourism economy benefits communities at every level,” CEO of Ugu South Coast Tourism, Phelisa Mangcu. “The KZN South Coast has some of the most diverse landscape and an incredibly rich heritage that wants to be explored – we are simply providing the avenue to open up these cultural treasures to visitors. And, while international travel remains restricted, we are urging South Africans to use this month as an opportunity to explore the multitude of adventures right on our doorstep.”
The Umzumbe River Trails
One of the KZN South Coast’s rural tourism initiatives is a uniquely cultural undertaking set in the heart of the Ugu District, between the coastal Umzumbe village, and the Mhlabatshane Dam at KwaPhungashe. Here visitors, led by knowledgeable local guides, will traverse this ‘authentically Zulu’ landscape, interacting with eight Zulu clans while staying at seven accommodation establishments that showcase local heritage, art, custom and cuisine. The clans, which live a traditional existence along the riverbanks, include:
The project, which is managed by the Ugu South Coast Development Agency (USCDA) – agency of Ugu District Municipality which promotes investment opportunities and social development for the KZN South Coast region.
Visitors will follow the Izi-Go Trail Network, a ‘Green Flag Trail’, by walking, hiking, trail running, mountain biking or horse riding. The 70km trail, which follows the stunning Umzumbe and Mhlabatshane Rivers, consists of six trails with the village of Ezinqoleni as the hub. Alongside the breath-taking views and natural terrain, visitors will get to experience a number of unique local attractions, including:
· Isivivane seNkosi uShaka – A heap of stones at Umzumbe traces all the way back to King Shaka and his warriors when they passed on the way from Zululand to Pondoland in 1828. They fought a group of local renegades, the Hlongwa, who managed to overcome Shaka and his warriors, marking the victory with a Zulu custom which involved spitting on a pebble and placing it on a ground, forming an isivivane.
· Ntelezi Msani Heritage Centre – The Ntelezi Msani Heritage Foundation has envisioned an Arts & Heritage Academy, and a museum, providing historical knowledge of the Ntelezi Msani and ‘Poll Tax System’.
· The Nazareth Baptist Church – This is the second largest African-initiated church, founded by Isaiah Shembe in 1910. Shembe was welcomed to the area by the Mpisane family near Mthwalume Station, moving to the current site with the permission of the Traditional Authority.
KZN South Coast rural tourism initiatives
There are also a number of rural tourism initiatives that visitors can support on the KZN South Coast. These include the KwaNzimakwe Multi-Trails, which provide hikers, trail-runners and 4×4 enthusiasts with the opportunity to explore the Mpenjati River Valley.
Then the KwaXolo Caves Adventures is a 300-metre cableway that takes visitors on secure, guided walk along a mountain path, with incredible valley views all the way into the KwaXolo Caves. Once open-rock shelters for the San people, these caves house centuries-old artwork on their walls. Visitors can check out the KwaXolo Caves Adventures video (‘The Lost Caves of the South Coast – KwaXolo Caves’ on YouTube) that gives a look at this unique experience.
To find out more about these and other KZN South Coast tourism offerings, download the free ‘Explore KZN South Coast’ app from Google Play and Apple stores or visit www.visitkznsouthcoast.co.za. KZN South Coast is also on social media – follow ‘South Coast Tourism’ on Facebook and YouTube, or @infosouthcoast on Twitter and Instagram.