Townships and community tourism in KwaZulu-Natal

Mark Mgobhozi
Mark Mgobhozi, Umlazi Township Guide
"You only have to spend an hour in Umlazi and you’ll wish you had a house here. That’s the spirit of Ubuntu, the spirit of humanity."

Cultural tours which offer visitors the chance to experience modern-day life in a township or village homestead are becoming increasingly popular.

Durban’s Umlazi township, South Africa’s second largest after Soweto, has a population of more than 800,000 and is developing fast with investment in schools, infrastructure and housing.

As well as guided tours, visitors can eat at top class restaurants and experience typical township cuisine.

Throughout Zululand, there are many opportunities for visitors to stay in a traditional Zulu homestead or ‘Umuzi’. Here they can experience what life is like for a typical Zulu family in the 21st Century.

Many have guided visits to local schools and village communities with the chance to consult a Sangoma to communicate with the ancestors or to be healed by an Inyanga, a traditional herbal healer.

Simunye Zulu Lodge in the Mfule River Valley near Melmoth in Zululand belongs to the Biyela Clan, whose patriarch prince, Gelenja Biyela, is descended from Mkhosana who led the Zulu regiment that defeated the British at Isandlwana.

The lodge is set in beautiful surroundings in the heart of the valley with a traditional Zulu kraal.
Nompondo Primary School, KwaZulu Natal. Photo By Richard Madden
Zulu dancers, KwaZulu Natal. Photo By Richard Madden
Zulu lodge, KwaZulu Natal. Photo By Richard Madden

Eric Ncinci Mcineka
Eric Ncinci Mcineka, Simunye Zulu Lodge
"We can take guests who visit us to consult traditional diviners called Sangomas or herbalists called Inyangas to find out about their future."

Umuzi Wakwa Homestead, KwaZulu Natal. Photo By Richard MaddenFocussing more on the contemporary experience of modern-day Zulu life is the Umuzi Wakwa Mdaka homestead in the village of Nodomo near Hluhluwe.

Founded and run by Siphile Mdaka, a local ANC councillor, Mbonise run safari tours in the adjacent Hluhluwe-Imfolozi National Park as well as cultural tours of the local village and school.

A percentage of the cost goes to local businesses and the school.

The homestead offers accommodation in three traditional rondavels (thatched round huts) sleeping 2-3 people in each, and one traditional beehive hut.

Siphile Mdaka
Siphile Mdaka, Umuzi Wakwa Mdaka homestead
"Two classrooms have been built and a kitchen in the primary school. People are able to see the connection between the wildlife park and their community."

Find out more about culture in KwaZulu-Natal
Responsible Travel would like to thank Tourism KZN for their sponsorship of this guide
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