Tourism, Accommodation and Historical Attractions in Natal, South Africa
The Natal Coast
The Natal South Coast
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The Mzimkulu ('Home of all rivers') river is the largest on the South Coast and meets the sea at Port Shepstone. Its mouth was large enough for coasters to sail into before the railway from Durban was extended.
There is still boating and river rafting on the river and swimming in the tidal pool. The main produce of the surrounding area is subtropical fruit, sugar, sisal and timber.
In 1635, the Portuguese ship Nossa Senora de Belem ran aground here. The survivors built boats from the wreckage of the ship and managed to sail back to Angola.
Approximately 10kms from Umtentweni (Just north of the town) lies the grave of Ndongeni who accompanied Dick King on his epic ride.
If you miss the sights, sounds and smells of the steam era, then take a trip on the Banana Express that runs between Port Shepstone, Izotsha (90 minutes) and back (six and a half hours), 1700ft above sea level.
Although only 20kms apart, this narrow (610mm) gauge track winds through 39kms of beautiful countryside.
The Garratt locomotive chugs its way, pulling the original 1907 coaches through grassland and indigenous forest, passing traditional Zulu huts, through plantations of pineapple, pawpaw and banana before arriving at Paddock.
It takes its guests along 7kms of pristine coastline before turning inland and starting the climb. At Izotsha, it stops for 20 minutes to refill with water while children are invited to pull the whistle and have their pictures taken.
Paddock Station itself is a turn of the century museum and a National Monument with plenty to occupy steam train enthusiasts.
Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve is very close and travellers can opt either for an lecture by a conservancy ranger on the reserve followed by a walk along the Baboon Trail and a tasty braai back at the station or a more extended trail, taking a coach back to Port Shepstone.
The Banana Express is a classic tale of the power of enthusiasm over bureaucratic decisions. The train is not just a tourist attraction but also pays its way by hauling freight as well and attracts enthusiasts from all over the world.