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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 😄.
But fortunately, we left the busy highway soon behind and followed the N2 to the north.
When we took the turnoff to Hluhluwe, dark clouds gathered in front of us … hmm, doesn’t really look like beach weather to me!
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.
Ah, and then, eventually, we reached the tree-lined road that took us to Sodwana Bay National Park – situated in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
We will stay, for the next 6 days, here at Coral Divers – a favourite under the scuba divers (and their families).
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.
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!