Unlimited tourism opportunities to celebrate on the KZN South Coast

With the highest number of Blue Flag beaches in the province, two world-renowned dive sites, iconic gorges, waterfalls and international-standard golf courses, it’s no surprise there’s a lot to celebrate this Tourism Month on the KZN South Coast. The hinterland, in particular, remains an area of significant potential for investment, with the success of existing tourism offerings a great example of this potential.

“In line with the theme, we’re ‘Rethinking Tourism’ by developing unique experiences that grow the tourism economy. Rural tourism development not only extends the economical footprint of this sector, but it also unlocks some truly incredible investment opportunities in terms of outdoor, adventure tourism products,” explained Phelisa Mangcu, CEO of South Coast Tourism and Investment Enterprise (SCTIE). “This Tourism Month, we want to highlight one such offering, the Umzumbe River Trail, as an example of what can be achieved when we invest in rural tourism.”

Launched in May 2022, Umzumbe River Trail connects the lush hinterland with the popular coastline through the 70km Green Flag Trail. Led by trained trail guides starting at Mhlabatshane Dam, visitors are given the option of walking, hiking, trail running, biking, or horse riding along six trails that are connected via Zulu homesteads. Overnight stays are provided, with guests given the chance to experience the traditional Zulu lifestyle found along the banks of the Umzumbe and Mhlabatshane rivers.

As Mangcu explained: “There are more than 1 000 registered hiking trails across South Africa’s nine provinces that offer an immersive experience for tourists. These remain popular with local and international travellers as they combine outdoor adventure with cultural enlightenment. The development of the Umzumbe River Trail is just one example of such tourism investments that are already reaping rewards.”

Khanya Tuntulwana, Director of Odumo Projects and Route Liaison Officer of the Umzumbe River Trail, said the visitor response has been enthusiastic: “We’ve taken a few groups on the trail which is a beautiful open space with fantastic views of the dam as you set off. Our guests have all enjoyed the experience which is creating so many economic opportunities for the local communities.”

In addition to the adventure, rural and agritourism offerings, the KZN South Coast is home to 58 golden beaches, six of which hold Blue Flag status, and the highest number of tidal pools in the province for protected bathing. Added to this are the key dive sites and Marine Protected Areas at Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks, as well as the annual Sardine Run, and the area boasts great opportunities in terms of travel and tourism accommodation and product choices.