KwaZulu Natal (KZN) is a province on the east coast of South Africa. You may know it from the 2010 Soccer World Cup, it was easily recognisable by the brilliant white beaches, blue sea and lush vegetation. If you’re looking for adventures in KZN then you’re in luck, there are multitudes of breath-taking adventures to experience across the whole province.
KZN has a sub-tropical, coastal climate which means there are warm days most of the year and a mild winter, lush vegetation, and a warm ocean from summer all the way through winter. Regardless of the time of year KZN is the best place for your adventure activities. This list of the top adventures in KZN is not definitive, Tripadvisor has over 300 listed outdoor and adventure activities, but I can say for certain that these are my top adventures in KZN.
Top 10 Adventures in KZN
Unless you get your kicks from BASE jumping, there are very few adventure activities open to the general public that are quite as thrilling as skydiving. Although skydiving is available across South Africa, having the view of the ocean and the green rolling hills while you skydive in KZN is unmissable.
The Durban Skydive Centre is where you need to go for your KZN skydiving experience. Monique and I did our ‘first jump’ courses through them and had 2 years of the most amazing, and adrenaline inducing, experiences. Staffed by well trained and professional people, the centre is welcoming and fun. Whether you’re just looking for a tandem jump, a fun jump, or to start your training as a skydiver, Durban Skydive Centre can cater for you.
Although named the ‘Durban’ skydive centre, it is not actually in Durban, but midway between Pietermaritzburg and Durban. For directions and GPS coordinates, check out their directions and contact page.
#2 Scuba Diving
When discussing scuba holidays South Africa may not often come high up on the list after places like Bali, Thailand, Egypt and the Maldives. But the Aliwal shoal, just off the south coast of KZN, is considered one of the top 10 dive sites in the world.
Aliwal shoal offers a large and diverse reef with the opportunity to see whale sharks, tiger sharks, ragged tooth sharks, dolphins, turtles, manta rays and much more. There are also 2 wrecks nearby with diveable depths from 12m – 40m, so it is appropriate for divers of any level. The Aliwal shoal is an amazing experience if you have any interest in the marine world.
ScubaXcursion is our go-to dive centre when we are visiting KZN. It is an SSI accredited centre which offers training for any level of diver. The staff are highly trained and very professional. The centre is situated 20m from the Scottburgh beach and right next to the Cutty Sark hotel, so if you’re also looking for a place to stay nearby it’s perfect.
#3 Canopy Tours
If you’re looking for a different experience with an unusual view then consider a canopy tour, hanging off a zip-line high in the air with a birds eye-view of the beautiful KZN landscape. There are multiple canopy tours around South Africa, all run by Canopy Tour South Africa, and KZN is home to 2 very different canopy tours, one in the Karkloof forest and one in the Drakensberg mountains.
The Karkloof Canopy Tour is in the northern Natal Midlands. It offers views of the mist-belt forest, wetlands and grasslands of the surrounding areas as you sail through the beautiful forest canopies. With 10 slides and 12 platforms along the way, it is a stunning tour to soak up the view of the KZN countryside.
The Drakensberg Canopy Tour is set in the central Drakensberg Blue Grotto forest and is in the shadow of the Cathkin Peak. Not only do you have tree top platforms but also cliff face platforms and an elevated rock-face walkway. Experience nature like never before as you slide through the dense forest canopies on this adventure in KZN.
#4 Hiking in the Drakensberg
The Drakensberg is a mountain range that stretches over 1000km and is one of the most prominent features in KZN. The Drakensberg offers dozens of day hikes and longer overnight hikes where you can sleep in caves or tents. There is even a challenge called the Grand Traverse which involves hiking across most of the range! Most of the Drakensberg has been classified as either game reserves or wilderness areas and uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000.
No adventure in KZN is truly complete without exploring this natural wonder. The Drakensberg is a magnificent display of the natural beauty of South Africa. It can be daunting to know where to start when planning a visit because there is just so much to choose from. Have a look at these 7 best Drakensberg hiking trails to get an idea of what and where to book. And to whet your appetite for adventure more, watch the Red Bull Air Force BASE jump in the Drakensberg.
#5 Abseiling & Rap Jumping
KZN offers a variety of abseiling and rap jumping opportunities including one of the highest commercial abseils in the world at 110m in Oribi Gorge. Oribi Gorge is a canyon located in southern KZN formed over millions of years by erosion caused by the Umzimkhulwana River.
The abseiling in Oribi Gorge is next to Lehr’s waterfall and, like the canopy tours, it offers a different sightseeing experience. The first 45m is a traditional abseil along the cliff and the next 65m are free abseiling. Contact Wild 5 Adventures to learn more about abseiling in Oribi Gorge.
Another place to have some fun abseiling and rap jumping is the Spirit of Adventure leadership camp at Shongweni dam. Although the camp is mostly for school leadership camps the abseiling is open to the public. You will get to abseil down the Shongweni dam wall and if you’re feeling brave enough you can rap jump. Years ago I did my job shadowing at Spirit of Adventure and it was a fantastic adventure. From abseiling and rap jumping to great hikes and cliff jumps into the dam, it was an awesome experience!
#6 Gorge Swing & Big Swing
Oribi Gorge does not only offer one of the world’s highest abseiling experiences, but also a gorge swing, the highest of its kind in the world, and perfect for your adventures in KZN. Step off the edge of Lehr’s waterfall and swing into a the depths of Oribi Gorge, around 165m. On a ‘swing’ you are strapped into a harness, unlike the ankle straps of a bungee, which puts less strain on your body but is no less thrilling!
If that’s not enough for you then there is the Big Swing in the iconic Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban. Officially named the tallest swing in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2011 the Big Swing let’s you fly through a 220m arc inside the 2010 World Cup stadium. If you’re looking for unusual adventures, this is definitely one to put in your diary.
#7 Water Rafting
If you thought there was nothing else to do in Oribi Gorge after the swing and abseiling, you’d be terribly wrong. Another great adventure activity is white water rafting on the Umzimkhulu River. You can choose a 1 or 2 day trip and experience some incredible, unspoiled nature as you make your way down the river.
#8 Microlight flying
If skydiving is not really your thing but you’d still like to experience the views through flight then consider going on a microlight flight along the KZN coastline. No skills are required! Sit back and enjoy the incredible view while being flown around by a professional microlight pilot. ComeFly offers operates 7 days a week, weather permitting, and the best times to fly are mid-morning.
#9 Beach Horse Riding
Exploring on horseback is an incredible way to discover the natural beauty of a place. There are no loud engines, you can travel much further before you get tired, and, in some instances, wildlife may be more approachable because a horse is less threatening than a human.
Explore the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage site, with Bhangazi Horse Safaris. Choose a beach ride along the pristine beaches next to the Indian Ocean with regular sightings of hippo and crocodiles, and seasonal sightings of whales and turtles. Or a Game ride through the nature reserve, allowing you to ride alongside herds of zebra, wildebeest, impala, warthog and more.
#10 Safaris in KZN
At MC Adventure Blog we encourage ethical and eco tourism to help sustain the planet we travel on. What better way to do that than with a sightseeing safari to support the places that help conserve many endangered and vulnerable animals. All of KZN’s parks and reserves are run by Emzemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife which has been given multiple awards for its high standard of management of the province’s natural resources over its roughly 100 year existence.
KZN is home to the oldest game park in Africa, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, and the entire African big five can be viewed in KZN if you are lucky! Other game parks in KZN include Ithala Game Reserve, uMkhuze Game Reserve, Pongola Game Reserve, Ndumo Game Reserve, and Tembe Elephant Park. Why not finish your adventures in KZN with a fantastic safari?
Adventures in KZN
KwaZulu-Natal is an exceptional place to visit in South Africa for any adventure enthusiast. There is no shortage of adrenaline inducing fun to be had all over the province and you may find a new passion along the way. If you want some more inspiration to fuel your adventures check out these great adventure quotes. Hopefully you will be having your own adventures in KZN soon!
Happy travels and blue skies!
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