One hour from Durban

A chance to smile at a crocodile
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The Independent Travel

Discover the watery and historical delights of KwaZulu-Natal, but keep your eyes peeled for Jaws.

Discover the watery and historical delights of KwaZulu-Natal, but keep your eyes peeled for Jaws.

Dolphin Coast

The northern coast of KwaZulu-Natal is known as the Dolphin Coast thanks to the vast number of the creatures that can be seen frolicking and surfing in the Indian Ocean. This was the area where the 19th-century Zulu King Shaka consolidated the Zulu empire, his fondness for the beauty of the Dolphin Coast leading him to set up permanent residence at Dukuza. The area is a haven of sheltered coves and golden beaches. It also offers a chance to get close to crocodiles and other wild animals at local sanctuaries.

By car: take the N2 north towards Ballito; journey time approximately 30 minutes.

Valley of 1,000 Hills

Take a leisurely drive through the valley surrounded by thousands of hills, which offer a real taste of rural Africa. Expect wooded lanes, dense forests, fast-flowing rivers, scenic dams and gorgeous gorges with fabulous views. Historic Zulu villages, curiosity stalls and tea gardens overlooking the hills provide fantastic distractions.

By car: take the N3, then the M13 followed by the R103 towards Hillcrest; journey time around 30 minutes.

Midlands Meander

A collection of markets, galleries, shops, bars and restaurants where you will find tasty home-made produce, hand-made paper, beadwork, leatherwork, stained glass and unique, works of art. A must-see destination which began as an arts and crafts co-operative.

By car: take the N3 and follow signs for Merrivale; journey time approximately 1 hour.

Howick

Dating from 1850, the town grew up at the point where the wagon route from the coast to the interior crossed the Umgeni river. Today Howick is best known for the impressive, 95-metre Howick Falls, a national monument. Look out for the monster reputed to live in the base pool. Howick hit the headlines in 1962 as the site of Nelson Mandela's arrest by the South African police before he was incarcerated on Robben Island.

By car: take the N3 and follow signs; journey time approximately one hour.

Natal Sharks Board

Jaws beware - the Natal Sharks Board is recognised as an expert in shark attack prevention and offers guided tours of the shark nets and Durban's Golden Mile. Sixteen crews check the nets every morning and entangled sharks are tagged and released. On a guided tour of the nets visitors have a good chance of seeing southern right and humpback whales moving between their breeding and feeding grounds. Tours, which start at 6.30 every morning, cost approximately £15 per person. To book call 00 27 82 403 9206.

By boat: boats leave from Durban Yacht Mole; journey time approximately one hour.

Travelbag (0870 890 1461; www.travelbag.co.uk) offers a seven-night break at the deluxe Zimbali Lodge in Durban from £1,389 per person, including room only accommodation, return flights from Heathrow with South African Airways and seven days' car hire.

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