African history meets nature on the legendary Route 66 MzansiBride

Winona Griggs

Discover the Magic of Route 66: Where African History and Nature Collide

When I think about Route 66, I can’t help but feel a sense of awe. This iconic road is more than just a highway—it’s a gateway to a world where African history intertwines with breathtaking natural beauty. Journeying along the legendary Zululand heritage route, you’ll immerse yourself in the captivating land of King Shaka Zulu, a legendary figure whose larger-than-life story has captivated people around the globe. It’s no wonder that it has even inspired beloved TV epics like Shaka iLembe.

Long ago, Route 66 served as a vital trade route for missionaries, soldiers, farmers, and everyday travelers on horseback and ox-drawn wagons. The road was bustling with life, connecting communities and cultures. Today, this historic artery—now known as the R66—continues to buzz with activity as it transports all sorts of people and goods. Sugar cane, groceries, school children, and even businessmen en route to the world-class ports of Durban and Richards Bay have all found their place on this bustling highway.

Hey there! Have you heard about Route 66 in KwaZulu-Natal? It’s an incredible 250km-long road that weaves its way through beautiful hills and fields of sugar cane. Along the route, you’ll come across vibrant towns like Gingundlovu, Eshowe, Melmoth, Ulundi, Nongoma, Mtunzini, and Phongolo.

This historic route is full of fascinating stories and landmarks that will transport you back in time. You’ll encounter monuments, museums, and memories that stretch back to the tribal wars of the early 1800s, the Voortrekker-Zulu War of 1838, the Anglo-Zulu War of 1878, and even the Bhambatha Rebellion of 1906. It’s truly a paradise for nature enthusiasts and history buffs!

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So, if you’re looking for an adventure that combines breathtaking landscapes with rich historical experiences, Route 66 in KwaZulu-Natal is the place for you. Put on your explorer hat and embark on a journey filled with wonder and discovery!

When I visit the town of Eshowe, I have to see the incredible Fort Nongqayi. This place is like a time machine, taking you back to the year 1883 when it was built in the midst of the Dlinzo Forest. It’s a sight to behold, with its ancient walls and beautiful architecture.

There’s also the Mission Museum, where I can learn about the brave Norwegian Christian missionaries who came here many years ago. It’s amazing to see how they spread their message and helped the local community.

If I’m in the mood for some art and culture, I’ll definitely visit the Vukani Museum of Zulu Art and Culture. They have a fantastic collection of artwork, especially beautiful pottery and intricate basketry. It’s a great way to appreciate the talent and creativity of the local artists.

But the real treat for nature lovers like me is the Dlinza Forest Aerial Boardwalk. This unique boardwalk takes you high up into the tree canopy, allowing you to see the forest from a whole new perspective. The towering trees, colorful orchids, and diverse birdlife are simply breathtaking. And the best part? The boardwalk ends with a magnificent 20-meter high viewing tower, where you can admire stunning views that stretch all the way to the coast. It’s a truly magical experience.

On top of it all, I’d like to share with you a little gem called the Siyaya Coastal Park. It’s a stretch of untouched coastline that goes on for a whopping 42 kilometers. From the mouth of the Mlalazi River to the southern boundary of the Amatigulu Nature Reserve, this place is a true paradise. The cherry on top is the unexplored indigenous forests and lush greenery of the Ntumeni Nature Reserve and the Nkandla Forest.

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Now, as you make your way to Melmoth and Mtonjaneni, there’s something special in store for you. It’s the eMakhosini Ophathe Heritage Park, where legend has it that King Shaka spent much of his youth. And let me tell you, this place is fit for a king. Just take a look at the majestic Spirit of eMakhosini Monument, overlooking the breathtaking Valley of the Kings. If that’s not enough, head to the nearby White Mfolozi River, where you can find a sanctuary for the endangered black rhino. It’s a true testament to the beauty and importance of preserving our wildlife.

But wait, there’s more! Don’t miss out on exploring the historical wonders of Ulundi, the capital of Zululand. This is where the legendary battle on Gqokli Hill took place, a battle that played a crucial role in King Shaka’s rise to power. And if you’re hungry for more history, make sure to visit the Ondini Heritage Site and the KwaZulu Cultural Museum. Inside, you’ll discover a treasure trove of fascinating artifacts. Among them is the silver friendship cup, a gift from Queen Victoria to King Cetshwayo after the Anglo-Zulu War. It’s a true testament to the friendship and cultural exchange between two nations.

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