"Fall in love with KwaZulu Natal's forgotten jewel" Eshowe by CatherineReichardt
Eshowe Travel Guide: 7 reviews and 22 photos
Eshowe is exactly the sort of place that I try to seek out in my own travels: small, scenic, understated, historic, slightly off the beaten track and and offering interesting wildlife experiences to boot. Virtually all my boxes ticked in one fell swoop!
I have visited Eshowe a couple of times, and unlike many tourist destinations which you enjoy but have no particular desire to return to, this is a place that I would be delighted to visit time and time again.
What appeals to the tourist as a first impression is the verdant setting of the town: undulating hills carpeted with lush sugarcane fields and interspersed with pristine indigenous forest, including the Dlinza Forest with its fabulous aerial walkway. Good start!
Even better (at least in my opinion) is the superb legacy of the colonial era - to my knowledge, nowhere else in South Africa boasts a 'Beau Geste' fort like Fort Nongqayi (and if you're a sucker for this sort of architecture, I suggest that you consider visiting Namutoni camp in Namibia's Etosha National Park - sadly yet another destination on my 'to do' list in terms of writing up travel pages!). The fort dates back to the days of the British Empire - it's not for nothing that the former Natal was known as 'The Last Outpost' - but unexpectedly hidden within its walls is the most outstanding museum of basketwork that I have yet found in South Africa. Zulus are justifiably renowned for the quality of their basketwork, and the stuff on display here will blow your mind!
Lastly, in my experience (last encounter in September 2008), Eshowe boasts the friendliest and most helpful tourist office I have yet to encounter in South Africa. Unfortunately our country has almost infinite tourist potential, but one of the limiting factors in terms of tourists experiencing full value from their visit (and wanting to return) is the uneven quality of tourist services. Staff in tourist offices are often poorly training, clueless about the potential tourist attractions in the local area and/or don't have the ability to anticipate and empathise with visitors' interests. To further compound the problem, the tourist information available is often unimaginative and uninformative: for example, I recently had the misfortune to peruse a glossy - and undoubtedly costly to produce - tourist brochure for North West province which failed to give a single contact telephone number or website for any of the attractions featured other than the provincial tourist office! In stark contrast, the tourist office in Eshowe couldn't have been more helpful or more evangelical about what the town had to offer, and their passion and enthusiasm couldn't help but transmit itself.
I declare my bias - Eshowe stole my heart, so please don't ask me to be objective! If you are venturing north of Durban, I would urge you to consider including Eshowe on your itinerary (ideally, combine it with the utterly wonderful Hluhluwe game reserve): if you're disappointed, then you and I are just not destined to go on holiday together!
- Pros:The charms of Eshowe are myriad but understated - you just have to look!
- Cons:Underappreciated by tourists - but this is to your enormous advantage!
- In a nutshell:The sort of jewel you're reluctant to share with others lest it get overrun with tourists!
"A place of new beginnings": I had to smile at this wildly optimistic sign outside Eshowe Correctional Services Facility... more travel advice
Fort Nongqayi comes as a complete surprise: the approach is shaded by large trees, and as the fort comes into view -... more travel advice
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