As the Heritage Month approaches, it’s important to take a moment to learn a bit more about South Africa’s rich cultural history and celebrate the diversity that makes Mzansi so special. The KZN South Coast – also known as The Paradise of the Zulu Kingdom – is a great place to start, with its history and tradition celebrated at museums, galleries and natural heritage sites … there are unlimited opportunities for cultural enlightenment!
“Heritage is really at the heart of KZN South Coast’s tourism offerings as we believe it provides visitors with great insight to who we are as a people,” explained Phelisa Mangcu, CEO of South Coast Tourism and Investment and Enterprise (SCTIE). “We have a wonderful variety of sites and activities to enjoy, offering a behind-the-scenes look at this beautiful region, its warm people and fascinating history.”
1. Ntelezi Msani Heritage Centre in Mthwalume
A great place to start on any cultural journey into The Paradise of the Zulu Kingdom is Ntelezi Msani Heritage Centre. This incredible arts and heritage facility offers visitors an authentic cultural experience, retelling the history of the Zulu nation through art, dance, seminars and musical performances.
2. Port Shepstone Cultural Maritime Museum
The seaside town of Port Shepstone has fantastic beaches, a great golf course, top restaurants and a must-visit museum, showcasing the diverse cultural and historical themes of the people and the area. There is an on-site amphitheatre, exhibition area featuring historical artefacts, gallery space and impressive archive.
3. Margate Art Museum
The KZN South Coast is renowned for its artistic talent, which is on full display at the beautiful Margate Art Museum. There are ongoing workshops, talks, guided tours and incredible exhibitions throughout the year.
4. KwaXolo Caves Adventures
Art, culture and history combine in the unmissable KwaXolo Caves. Once a series of protective shelters for the San people, the lives of these ancient inhabitants are told in artwork within the caves. Visitors are led by a tourist guide along a steel cable-and-rung via ferrata system to the caves. New upgrades include a high wire bridge, 1km long zipline and walkway bridge.
5. Riverbend Art & Wine Gallery in Southbroom
Recognising the connection between fine art and good wine, Riverbend features a wonderful collection of fine estate wines in its extensive cellar, with the gallery featuring artworks by top South African artists such as Nils Anderson, Louis Audie, David Mbele, Billy Molokeng, Godfrey Ndaba, Diane Erasmus, Nicola Firth… and many others.
6. Munster Motor Museum & Classic Cars
Car enthusiasts are in for a treat at this old-timey museum which features everything from 2- and 4-stroke internal combustion engines through to rotary engines. Also on display are a variety of motoring and motor sports’ memorabilia and images; plus, there’s a library of historical artefacts, and even a nautical section showcasing naval and merchant ship models with illustrated stories of local shipwrecks.
7. Nightingale Shipwreck in Trafalgar
On the subject of shipwrecks, the KZN South Coast is the place to visit for those with an interest in tales from the sea. One great example is the 1933 Nightingale Shipwreck, a steam vessel that ran aground on the rocks of Glenmore Beach owing to the heavy fog.
8. São Joao Shipwreck in Port Edward
But that’s not the only shipwreck to explore on the KZN South Coast. Dating all the way back to 1552, the São Joao was returning to Portugal from India when it ran aground near Port Edward during a storm. Legend has it that some of the survivors actually assimilated with local tribes, the heritage of which is celebrated to this day through festivals, food and commemorative tributes. Visitors to Port Edward can visit the São Joao Monument that was erected to commemorate the lost souls of the vessel.
To find out more about the KZN South Coast’s fantastic cultural gems, download the free ‘Explore KZN South Coast’ app from Google Play and Apple stores; visit the ‘South Coast Tourism’ on Facebook or YouTube; @infosouthcoast on Twitter or Instagram; ‘Info Ugu South Coast Tourism’ on LinkedIn; www.visitkznsouthcoast.co.za to check out the Events Calendar, the KZN South Coast Meeting Planner Guide and more!