The best regional office to visit en route from Durban is Eshowe Publicity (tel. 035/473-3474; Mon-Thurs 7:30am-4pm, Fri till 3pm), on Hutchinson Street. For information on the Hluhluwe region, call the Hluhluwe Information Office (tel. 035/562-0353). For information on the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, call tel. 035/590-1633 (www.iSimangaliso.com), or the St Lucia Publicity Association (tel. 035/550-4059). For specific information and reservations on the other provincial game reserves, contact eZemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife (tel. 033/845-1000; www.kznwildlife.com).
Getting There & Around
The quickest way to get to Zululand is to fly to Richard's Bay Airport, but it is more practical to fly to Durban and hire a car, as there is virtually no public transport in Zululand. If so, you'll have to contact a tour operator, rent a car, or arrange a transfer with Thompsons Hluhluwe Shuttle (tel. 035/562-3002). (Private reserves such as Thanda, Phinda, and iSibindi Lodges all supply their own transfers from Richard's Bay or Durban airport.)
The N2 toll road leading north out of Durban traverses the Zululand hinterland; east lie the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, Phinda private game reserve, and the birding reserves (Ndumo and Mkuzi); west lies Hluhluwe and most of the Zulu museums and cultural villages.
Northern Zululand is a high-risk malarial area in the rainy summer season, and there is a medium-to-low risk in iSimangaliso Wetland Park, depending on the time of the year. For the most up-to-date advice, contact your doctor. There were reports of carjackings in the far north several years ago, but these have altogether ceased; still, it's best to use caution when traveling outside of reserves and highly trafficked areas.
Ex-mayor of Eshowe (and proprietor of local Eshowe hangout the George Hotel), Graham Chennells offers the most authentic and exhilarating opportunities to see contemporary Zulu life in Africa. National Geographic has commissioned no less than three film shoots of his tours. Guests are provided with a Zulu guide, who introduces them to friends in the broader community. On most weekends, Graham can arrange attendance at either a Zulu wedding, a coming-of-age celebration, sangomas' healing rituals, or traditional church services, where guests are treated as part of the extended family. For more information, go to www.eshowe.com, or call the George Hotel, 36 Main St., Eshowe (tel. 035/474-4919 or 082/492-6918; www.wheretostay.co.za/georgehotel).
On February 23, Sangoma Khekheke's Annual Snake Dance, attended by 1,000 people, is held. September also sees King Shaka Day Celebrations and the Zulu King's Reed Dance -- here some 15,000 maidens congregate to dance for King Goodwill Zweliteni. Most of October is taken up with the Prophet Shembe's celebrations; on Sundays some 30,000 people participate in prayer dancing. During the first week in December, the King's first "Fruit Ceremony" must be held before the reaping of crops can begin. To arrange attendance at any of these, contact Graham Chennells.