Get out of the busy and crowded city and go breathe in some crisp air.
Green in summer, a bit less green in winter, just outside of Durban awaits a cluster of small, countryside towns defined by tranquillity. The Midlands is farm-fresh in every sense. From Nottingham Road to Howick and the surrounds, this area is the ideal escape for a Durbanite in need of a quick-getaway.
I wake up, rested and clear-headed. At breakfast, I indulge in artisan Terbodore coffee roasted in the area, alternating with sips of locally-produced, gut-healthy kefir yogurt. Then, I glance outside the window and see cows roaming the green hills. Refreshing.
Farm stalls sell products produced by local artisans, and lush forests - whether man-made or indigenous to KZN - surround you as you zipline through it or drive past it.
READ: Driving from Durban to the Midlands, beautiful but also terrifying
World Tourism Day was recently celebrated in the Midlands. The Nelson Mandela Capture Site in Howick hosted these celebrations, and the Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane expressed the need for small towns and rural communities to draw tourism:
The Capture Site is a historical and cultural attraction that is constantly evolving, upping its offering to tourists who eagerly flock to it for knowledge. It is worth visiting, not only to enrich your own understanding of the historical events that played out on this very strip of land in 1962, but to see your visit as an economic boost to the area itself.
READ: 'I challenge South Africans to get out of their homes' - Minister of Tourism on World Tourism Day
Whether its the Meander or the West Coast, choosing the remote over the crowded is responsible travel. Supporting small communities, small businesses and local guides, uplift communities economically, but in turn also gives you an authentic experience of the place and the people who call it home.
The drive from Durban, though scary, takes you straight to Nottingham Road on the N3 Freeway. Stop at The Midlands Kitchen for a signature pie as you fuel up your tank, or head to the famous R103 Midlands Meander. Piggly Wiggly is the perfect stop for families for lunch. Here, kids are sure to be entertained. The pitstop features a range of activities like ziplining, quad-biking and shops stocked with local goods. Even animal hides.
Sleep at the stunning Fordoun Hotel and Spa, a 5-star hotel worth your time and money, especially if you're keen to experience the outdoors on horse-back or even by hot air balloon. Imagine all that fresh air. And all that nature.
And if you want to see the Midlands by guided tour, let a local guide like Baja (featured below), show you around. She knows the Zulu Kingdom like the back of her hand and will give you a truly insightful experience.
When you are guided by a local, you feel comfortable, like they're sharing a bit of their territory with you, and the secrets held within its borders. It's almost like being invited in for tea at someone's home.
You feel welcome. And want to go back again and again. Not just to see the place, but to visit the people.
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