Young Zulu girls celebrate their culture (Photo: iStock)
If you're travelling through the Garden Province of KwaZulu-Natal, why not to be an inclusive tourist and check out the offerings on WOWZulu?
This platform aims to connect rural South Africans with the tourism market, offering unique and sustainable tours and experiences that not only boost the economy but improves inclusivity and builds sustainable practices.
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It includes restaurants offering local cuisine, youth-owned coffee outlets, homestay accommodation, craft makers and performers that bring history to life.
This new initiative was launched last week by the Tourism Department's deputy minister Elizabeth Thabethe at the Luthuli Museum in Groutville.
“Responsible tourism is of paramount importance to the tourism sector hence South Africa was the first country to include this concept in its national tourism policy, the 1996 White Paper on the Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa,” said Thabethe according to SA News.
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So far it has been launched in seven areas in the province - here are some of the offerings in each spot.
This is the heart of the battlefields, where the British suffered a devastating defeat against the Zulus in 1879.
While finding out more about its history, you can stay at the luxury Isandlwana Lodge 'built by two mad American women' and visit the Isandlwana Museum and the WOWZulu Marketplace.
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At the bottom of the Drakensberg Amphitheatre, eMazizini welcomes visitors with tractor trailer rides up the slopes of Mngxoleni Mountain and classes on traditional weaving.
You can also take a village walk through the community and stop at their local tavern for a homebrew and some delicious home-made food.
A hidden gem of Durban, the Inanda Valley has been home to the liberation struggle, including the spot where Nelson Mandela made his first democratic vote in Ohlange.
A tour guide that met him will treat you to stories of that day, as well as take you on a visit to the Gandhi Settlement and the Inanda Seminary.
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On the North Coast, this seaside haven is one of the most popular holiday spots in the country, but it also is filled with cultural flavour ready to be discovered.
Make a detour to Ballito's WOWZulu Marketplace at the Sangweni Tourism Information Centre where Mqu and Phumlani will tell you stories about the area while treating you to traditional cuisine and a lekker cup of coffee.
Down to the South Coast, another coastal destination asks visitors to step off the beaten track to inland communities.
Besides checking out KwaNsimakwe's craft markets, you can also tackle a guided 3 to 5-day Wild2South Coast Walk from Mtentu Lodge to Ramsgate, while visiting homesteads along the way.
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Outside of tourist hotspot St Lucia and near the iSimangaliso Wetland Park lies Khula Village, where you can take in the stories of a cultural village after exploring the nature reserve.
There's also a heritage museum, butterfly dome and bicycle tours through the village on offer.
Ndumo and the Far North
Embark on a journey to the forgotten corner of KwaZulu-Natal, where you can explore the communities of Ndumo, Ingwavuma, Jozini, Kosi Bay and the Lubombo Transfrontier Park. These all start off at the WOWZulu Marketplace across from Tembe Elephant Park.
There are homestay offerings where you can join in locals' daily life, or take on other cultural experiences like learning about herbalism, watch a traditional Zulu dance or munch down on shisanyama.
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