ROAD TRIP – SODWANA BAY (4)


Golden Gate Highlands National Park (Free State Province) to Sodwana Bay (KwaZulu-Natal Province, North Coast)

Welcome to our road trip of December 2021. We are travelling by car across South Africa (from the west coast → north coast → KZN south coast → back to the west coast). The distance we will cover, will be around 5,000km (3,106 miles).

Our main purpose for this trip, besides seeing places we have not seen before, is for Berto to scuba dive in Sodwana Bay and then to be a little more adventurous … diving with sharks in the ocean in Umkomaas on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal. We hope to share lots of pictures to show you our beautiful country.

Accommodation – Day 4 to Day 10:

Coral Divers at Sodwana Bay

It was time to get back on the road again. Our intention was to travel on the main highways today – via Durban to Sodwana Bay – another 700km (434 miles). This meant we will be facing more traffic, but at least less potholes.

We left just after 7 o’clock and hooray for no rain! We will still be travelling through the Golden Gate Highlands National Park for approximately 20km. This road winds through some of the most spectacular scenery that South Africa has to offer … and we were hoping to see some animals.

More stunning geological formations on the road
Driving through the Lichens Pass at the Golden Gate Highlands National Park

And we were in luck … we saw many different antelopes close to the road while driving through the park. Since it was early morning, we were the only people driving on the road and could therefore safely stopped next to the road to take some pictures.

Wild antelopes close to the road

Once we got through the Golden Gate Highlands National Park close to Phuthaditjhaba (try to pronounce the name of this village 😉), we drove to Harrismith from where we followed the N3 highway to Durban.

The perfect highway for the next 300km to Durban

Somewhere on the road, we had to stop to re-fuel our car again … and re-fuel ourselves with a take away coffee. I love these “pit stops” on the road!

A take away coffee for the road
An enjoyable dual carriageway

Howick Falls

I’ve read in our tour atlas that we will drive pass the town of Howick. That reminded me of something I learned MANY moons ago in primary school – there is a waterfall in Howick. I convinced Berto to take the turnoff in order for us to view this waterfall.

The Howick Falls

Howick Falls is a 95-meter (310 feet) cascade into a broiling, restless pool – regarded by the local Zulus with grave superstition and said to be the place of the spirits of ancestors. Local legend believes that in the pool lives a giant snake-like creature and probably because of this, only sangomas are safe close to the falls.

The Howick Falls’ other name is KwaNogqaza (the “place of the tall one”)
Some other well-known falls are mentioned here

On our way to the falls, we walked pass colourful art and craft stalls from the locals. I could not resist in buying something colourful for our Christmas table.

Colourful handmade items
My choice fell on this red Christmas goat – made of wire and beads

Then it was time to face the busy highway between Pietermaritzburg and Durban. Durban is the largest city of KwaZulu-Natal and the third most populous city in South Africa. But I presume some of our blogger friends will still not think this is a busy highway when looking at the photo below 😄.

Driving on the outskirts of Durban

But fortunately, we left the busy highway soon behind and followed the N2 to the north.

On the N2 highway on our way to Sodwana Bay

When we took the turnoff to Hluhluwe, dark clouds gathered in front of us … hmm, doesn’t really look like beach weather to me!

Threatening rain clouds on our way to Sodwana Bay

On this stretch of road, we always have to drive careful. But this time, we’re not looking out for cars, but “pedestrians” that believe the road belongs to them.

And cattle … in no hurry to leave the road

Ah, and then, eventually, we reached the tree-lined road that took us to Sodwana Bay National Park – situated in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

A beautiful stretch of road – now very close to our destination

We will stay, for the next 6 days, here at Coral Divers – a favourite under the scuba divers (and their families).

After 2200km, we are finally here!

Coral Divers is a PADI 5-star resort and dive centre. But don’t be fooled … you won’t find high risen buildings here or plenty of restaurants and bars! Although the accommodation, which is in the form of cabins, are rustic, it’s equipped with bedding and bath towels – some have aircon, while others have fans. For us, it’s the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle for the next week!

But you are not totally missing out on the luxuries here at Coral Divers. They have a sparkling clean swimming pool for visitors to enjoy. There is also a bar and restaurant to enjoy their delicious meals. But if you prefer to prepare your food yourself – like having a braai – they have that facility as well.

Swimming pool at Coral Divers
Time to relax at the braai area

It’s great to be back at Sodwana Bay (and Coral Divers) after our last visit about a year ago. As per tradition, we had a braai on the very first evening!

And still, we have not shown you the beach! But hang on tight … in our next post, we will take you there … even if it’s raining!

Categories: South African Break Aways

52 comments

  1. Outstandingly cool places! Showering in the rain must have been a strange experience though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ”Pedestrians” ha ha. The only time I regret not being a driver myself is when I read about other people’s road trips. The freedom of choice, to just turn and make a stop for that lovely waterfall, is priceless. I loved all the shots from the road, the antelopes one being my favourite. Another great place to stay. Hope you have some dry, beach weather ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, I love these impromptu decisions of stopping on the route to see other beautiful places … by now Berto knows when I say “There is this place …”, he need to slow down, because we’re about to veer off the planned route 😁. Better weather is definitely on the way … the beach is calling! Thanks for continue to follow us on our road trip Leighton, take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Howick Falls are Stunning! We drove through open range territory when we were in Utah a few months ago. It’s nerve wracking to see the cattle and deer so close to the road.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lovely to see the cascading waterfalls and the antelopes Corna. I’ve stayed in hotels in Asia with outdoor showers (as well as an indoor one). I loved using the outdoor one there as it was so hot and sticky and even when it was raining it felt warm. Don’t think it would be very inviting in the U.K. though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, the waterfall and the antelopes were definitely my favourite as well on this part of our journey! And you’re absolutely right about showering outside when it’s so hot and humid … I just found it so funny trying to dry myself, while the rain was just keep coming down 😅.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Are you the only two travellers on the road in South Africa? It seems as f you covered many miles without seeing other vehicles! I love the handicrafts…those sheep are sweet. I have a few carvings etc that I collected over the years and I still enjoy them. More food pics! I love corn cooked that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha Carolyn 😄, it sometimes felt like we were the only two for kilometers … that’s probably why we get a bit stressed when we encounter more than two vehicles at the same time! Oh yes, I love handmade crafts and arts (also a great opportunity to support the locals). That corn was the best ever – we only recently started to prepare them this way and LOVE it!

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  6. Wonderful adventure. My hubs and I have just read all these posts together and we just adore what you have written

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Julle huisie lyk na ‘n heerlike blyplek.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s a sweet little cabin! I hope the diving goes well. Scuba is more my style (less adventurous, I guess). Looking forward to the beach.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Bly julle het afgedraai na die Howick Valle! Dis so mooi! Lekker om weer die bekende paaie daar in KZN te sien!
    Julle blyplek lyk lekker gerieflik.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I just love the look of those mountains Golden Gate Park. And of course the Howick Waterfall, although if there is a giant snake I won’t get close either! Funny to shower in the rain! Maggie

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow, amazing scenery indeed. That waterfall is stunning! I can’t say I’ve ever showered in the rain but I imagine that is a weird feeling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Diana 🌸. I was totally overwhelmed by the stunning landscape at Golden Gate Highlands National Park. And so glad we turned off to see that waterfall. As for the rain shower – what a fun experience (I guess it won’t be the case in winter though 😉).

      Liked by 1 person

  12. The scenery along the drive looks gorgeous. Good thing you convinced Berto to take a short detour to view the waterfall! I couldn’t help but laugh at the picture of the “busy” highway.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh, I do love an outdoor shower – it’s one of the things that really says ‘holiday’ to me 😀 And OK, I will concede that highway near Durban is pretty busy, but I can’t get over how empty all the others are!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That outdoor shower was such a fun experience … especially one morning when I heard a noise while in the shower and when I turned around, a monkey was sitting on the wall looking at me 😅. I’m really glad Durban’s highway is getting itself in the “busy highway” category 😁 … but I’m with you, while we were on those long empty roads, we also wondered where all the other people were!

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  14. What an awesome trip and such beautiful falls!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Great trip report! I have so much to comment on here but will try to keep it short. Your route featured amazing scenery like those striking multi-colored hills and thundering Howick Falls. The falls remind me of the waterfall in the movie Jurassic Park. Your accommodations at Coral Divers, including the outdoor shower, are perfect for the setting. I had an outdoor (and indoor) shower once in the Maldives. Showering outdoors just seemed natural and fun. Thanks and I’m looking forward to more from your trip!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much John! Yes, we were also comparing the Howick Falls with the one in Jurassic Park 😉 – I’m glad we took the turn off to see the falls! Coral Divers are situated in the perfect spot and the rustic element of their accommodation is what draw us to them in the first place. Totally agree – outdoor showers are definitely way more fun (and on an island like the Maldives, even more so)!!
      Thanks for still continuing to follow our road trip – we’ll see you on the beach (and under the sea) in the next couple of posts! (Oh, btw … I saw your second comment on this post and deleted it … because I found this one in the “spam box” for some reason ☺️).

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  16. I love your waterfall photos – I personally think that one of Mother Nature’s most soothing yet exhilarating and beautiful creations in the world is the waterfall. There is just something mesmerizing about watching water tumble off a rock face into a pool or raging river beneath. Thanks for sharing your exciting adventures and have a good day. I hope all is well ☺️ Aiva

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Aiva 🌸. Yes, I totally agree that a waterfall is one of the most beautiful scenes in nature – I’m so glad we took that turn off to see it! Thank you for visiting our blog and I hope you have a great weekend ahead of you. Take care, Corna

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I love all the antelope…..and wow that waterfall is spectacular. I can’t imagine showering with no roof above me when it’s raining, that’s crazy!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. The Howick falls is for sure one of those magnificent historical attraction in our beautiful country. I can picture you and Berto at the Midmar Dam, finding a shady picnic spot along the shoreline of the dam and doing one of your amazing braai’s ☺️ It’s not too far from the Howick falls, about 12 km away

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was so amazed with the Howick falls (and glad we took the turn off to see it)! We saw the sign for the Midmar Dam … now I wish we went that extra few kilometers to have a look at this dam (but then we might just do exactly what you suggested – to have a braai 😁). It seems we will have to be going back to a few places for which we just did not had time to visit on this trip!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Reason I love road tripping so much is that always you can turn left or right and take a detour to include something new on the way. Amazing waterfalls🙂
    The red Christmas goat is so cute😄😄
    Have a safe and happy New Year, Corna!
    xx, Christie

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Ons is gaande oor KZN se wilde Noordkus, maar was nog nooit by Sodwana nie. Ek sien uit daarna om op te vang met jou plasings en meer daaroor te leer!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Baie dankie vir julle oulike terugvoer op julle avonture. My seun en ‘n vriend (hulle is albei 19 jaar) wil gaan duik (dieselfde plek waar julle in Sodwana was). Ek is bietjie bekommerd oor die toestand van die pad vanaf Pretoria tot in Sodwana. Is dit nodig vir ‘n 4×4 of sal gewone sedan die pad baas raak?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ek is bly jy het ons plasing oor Sodwana geniet. Dit was vir ons heerlik om te sien hoeveel jongmense in Sodwana geduik het … bly jou seun en sy vriend wil dit ook doen!
      Google Maps gee die kortste pad vanaf Pretoria na Sodwana aan oor Ermelo en Pongola, maar dui dan die pad aan vanaf Jozini na Sodwana. Daardie gedeelte van die pad is grondpad en vereis ‘n 4×4 voertuig en hulle moet dit verkieslik nie neem nie. Hulle moet liefs reguit met die N2 aanhou tot by Hluluwe en dan van daar na Sodwana reis – dit is al die pad teerpad. Hulle moet ook net bewus wees van diere op die pad tussen Hluluwe en Sodwana. So, ‘n gewone sedan sal perfek wees … hulle kan maar die duikpakke inlaai en ry 😁.

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