How I celebrated Tourism Month with Tourism KwaZulu-Natal…

Tourism KwaZulu-Natal played host to Tourism Month celebrations in Northern Drakensberg under the theme “Tourism and Water Protecting Our Common Future” and I was invited to join the festivities.

Water is a precious natural resource and the tourism industry is entirely dependent on it to survive. It is therefore important that tourism establishments conserve water and encourage guests not to be wasteful. There are also many tourism activities that are water based, such as boat cruises, fishing, whale watching etc etc.

The media, tourism stakeholders and KwaZulu-Natal government representatives were in attendance at the official celebrations, where Alpine Heath Resort was the host venue.

Tugela River (largest river in KwaZulu-Natal) originates from Drakensberg Mountains before it plunges 948m down Tugela Falls, the world’s second highest waterfall after Angel Falls (979m) in Venezuela.

According to wikipedia, Tugela River follows a 502km route through KwaZulu-Natal midlands before merging with Indian Ocean. Total catchment area is approximately 29,100 square kilometres. Land within catchment area is mainly used for rural subsistence farming and commercial forestry.

Drakensberg Mountains are a major tourism attraction especially with hikers because of their high peaks which are above 3,000 metres. As a result of these adventure activities centered around the mountains, a number of tourism products are dotted around the region to cater for all type of travellers visiting the area.

We arrived at Alpine Heath Resort on Thursday night following a three hours drive from Durban.

Official launch with dignitaries

The official Tourism Month celebrations took place on Friday morning with government representatives addressing guests. Mike Mabuyakhulu, KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development and Tourism MEC was represented by Wezile Thusi, Social Development MEC in KwaZulu-Natal.

Tourism KwaZulu Natal Chairman – Sadha Naidoo

Speech highlights:

  • Prime Sites – World Heritage Site based on culture and nature
  • Tourism Master Plan (attached)
  • Cable Car Drakensberg
  • Next world war will be fought over water
  • White Paper on development on tourism

Click on audio below to listen to Sadha Naidoo:

Wezile Thusi, MEC: Social Development in KwaZulu-Natal represented Mike Mabuyakhulu, MEC of Economic Development and Tourism who could not attend due to other government commitments.

Speech highlights:

  • Isimangaliso Wetlands Park
  • Health and medical tourism
  • Colourful beaches warm throughout the year
  • Combination of African, European and Asian cultures
  • 2010 FIFA World Cup
  • Excellent facilities
  • Many International Events
  • Tourism an effective driver of economic growth

Click on audio below to listen to Wezile Thusi:

Drakensberg Cableway

The province of KwaZulu-Natal is investing R500m into the establishment of a Cableway, similar to Harties Cableway and Table Mountain Cableway. This is hoped will attract new visitors into the Drakensberg region and create jobs for the locals. Though its at feasibility phase, this announcement has already attracted both positive and negative reaction for the public.
The positive is that it’ll aid the region in attracting more tourists and create more job opportunities. While some of the negatives are that many believe it’ll become a white elephant because weather conditions are not conducive for such a product offering, not enough traffic to the region and its quite an expensive project to undertake.

Below are some of the news about Drakensberg Cableway:

Pie in the sky?

R74 Rehabilitation

The R74 road from Harrismith is the lifeblood of Drakensberg since it connects travellers from Gauteng visiting the areas. However over the years this road has remained unmaintained and in poor state of health which has resulted in motorists avoiding it and has impacted negatively to many tourism products within its vicinity. Many lodging facilities have closed shop since they struggled to maintain healthy occupancy for them to pay their bills.

The Free State and KwaZulu-Natal government departments have concluded an agreement that will see both departments sharing costs in rehabilitating this road since it links both provinces. Though a deadline has not be officially announced when work will begin…it’s good news for affected tourism operators within this road.

All Out Adventures

Shortly after all protocol was observed (official formalities by government representatives), the media ventured out into the world of adrenaline junkies. All Out Adventures an activity based tourism business hosted us on a number to activities such as king swing and zip-line.

Our dinner date was hosted by Buhlebemvelo B&B, in Zwelisha township (Bergville)…sadly the offering was below par and not worth giving too much airtime.

Four Rivers Adventures

Early Saturday morning after breakfast we departed to Central Drakensberg and joined Four Rivers Adventures where a number of activities were in the offering such as archery, sag-way, zip-line and quad biking.

I only joined the sag-way since it was my first time to ride such a two wheeler and I thoroughly enjoyed it…its fun and you use your body to move and stop it. If you lean forward it moves and leaning backwards will stop it.

Thokozisa Lifestyle Centre

For those familiar with Swaziland, this facility closely matches Malandela’s in Malkerns where the annual Bushfire Festival is hosted with complimenting offerings.

Thokozisa is home to the Central Drakensberg Information Centre and has the following shops on site:

  • Thokozisa Restaurant – where we had our lunch, I enjoyed their meals…had beef lasagne and their fine red wine.
  • Thokozisa Deli & Wine Cellar
  • Living Art Gems
  • Hides of Africa
  • San Rock Ridge
  • Berg & Boot
  • Kakadu & Karoo
  • Zebu Crossing
  • Mushka
  • San Aquam Spa Centre
  • Bijoux Fantasy

Sani Pass Hotel

After lunch we drove about 3 hours into Southern Drakensberg to overnight at Sani Pass Hotel. The last time i was there in 2011, the hotel was begging for attention…in terms of facelift, everything looked old, not a good sign for any hotel business. Though we arrived at night, I immediately noticed that renovations had been done as the hallway was spotting a new coat of paint, visitor bathrooms near the reception all refreshing with updated bathroom facilities.

All rooms within the hotel reception block have been renovated and the dining areas. However more work still has to be done on the rest of the property, will thatch rooms

In the morning before our departure to King Shaka International Airport, we had a choice between quad biking and spa treatment…and I opted for a full body massage which was excellent considering the long road trips I had already undertaken since arriving in KwaZulu-Natal.

Fact File

  • Durban to Alpine Heath Resorts = 279km
  • Thokozisa Restaurant (Bergville) to Sani Pass Hotel (Himeville)= 195km
  • Sani Pass Hotel to King Shaka International Hotel = 239km
  • Northern Drakensberg is windy
    sagway

    enjoying a sagway ride, I just couldn’t get enough of the experience…

    sani pass hotel - bathroom

    Sani Pass Hotel – bathroom

    sani pass hotel - bedroom

    Sani Pass Hotel – bedroom

    zipline

    Four Rivers Adventures – zipline

DSC03207

ready to zipline…

DSC03194

king swing – the feeling is similar to bungee jumping when you jump off the edge…

DSC03191

no turning back…king swing in action

DSC03187

climbing the tree to reach the king swing bridge at the top was quite tiring…

DSC03183

business cards of tourism products within Northern Drakensberg displayed at All Out Adventures.

DSC03176

Zakes Bantwini performed at the celebrations of Tourism Month

DSC03154

Social Development MEC in KwaZulu-Natal, Wezile Thusi who represented Mike Mabuyakhulu MEC of Economic Development and Tourism.

DSC03184

All Out Adventures, entry into King Swing and Zipline

DSC03162

Phindi (Vuma fM) and Dave (East Coast Radio) were the master of ceremonies during the official Tourism Month celebrations.

DSC03153

Traditional zulu dancers by senior citizens…showcasing their talent to guests at Tourism Month celebrations.

DSC03148

Traditional zulu dancers from local communities also showcasing their god given talent…

DSC03137

Alpine Heath Resort reception…

DSC03136

Kiddies facility at Alpine Heath Resort

DSC03132

A gym at Alpine Heath Resort

DSC03126

Alpine Heath Resort – self catering chalets (each unit has 3 bedrooms consisting of a double bed with ensuite bathroom, 2 bedrooms with 2 single beds per rooms and 1 shared bathroom, open plan kitchen and lounge with dstv.


DSC03127

Author: Muzi Mohale

Hi there, am your host and I blog about the tourism industry in South Africa. You're also welcome to contribute your expert content on matters affecting the industry. You can reach me on muzi[at]tourismedition.com

Share This Post On

Leave a Reply