Attractions in uMlalazi Municipality

Dlinza Forest and Aerial Boardwalk

It's cool, elevated position on a hilltop overlooking the hot and humid coastal plain gives Eshowe its serenity but the Dlinza Forest around which the town wraps itself, gives Eshowe its spirit.

No other town in South Africa has blended so organically into its environment as Eshowe.

The core of the 250-hectare coastal scarp forest is a declared nature reserve but tracts of the beautiful, high forest as well as patches of wild flowers and grassland are dispersed throughout the leafy avenues of the town.

Blessed with this abundant natural diversity, Eshowe residents boast that that there is a tree in flower every day of the year in their town.

This lush environment and refreshing climate has always attracted human habitation and no less than four Zulu kings have at some stage lived here though it probably owes its modern beginnings to the Norwegian missionaries who established a station here in the mid-19th century.

During the Anglo Zulu War of 1879 British soldiers used the mission as a fort and were besieged by the Zulu army for 10 weeks.

During the Zulu Civil War a few years later, Eshowe became the British military headquarters and a large peacekeeping force of 3 000 British troops was encamped in tents at Fort Curtis for about 16 years.

There was a rush of trading ventures to cater to the needs of such a large garrison and during this period it was made the capital of the colony of Zululand.

No evidence of Fort Curtis remains - it occupied a large area in the vicinity of the present Eshowe Sports Club - but the town remains a busy commercial hub long after the departure of the last British soldier.

Today it continues to charm visitors and was recently voted amongst the top 10 towns of South Africa by a popular travel magazine.

Worthwhile to visit in the Forest:  Bishop's seat (an open site where Anglican Bishop Carter used to meditate.  Later he cleared it for public use and used to hold an annual picnic for the children of the town.  In 1953 a local resident, G S Moberley, feeling the venue appropriate as an outdoor theatre, wrote a nativity play entitled " The Forest Noel" for presentation.  The play was produced every 3 years from 1953 to 1994.  It has just been revived in 2005.  

Dlinza Forest Aerial Boardwalk -  A 150 m long boardwalk built in the forest, spiraling 20 m high, overlooking the canopy of the trees.

 Mpushini Falls and Trail

This is a historic site from the time of King Shaka where maidens used to bathe.  A 20 minutes trail starts from the Museum Village entrance gate through a section of fern forest and over a stream to the head of the falls from where a lower trail can be followed but it is steep, dangerous and risky.

Dlinza Forest Royal Mile Drive

This drive was made for the 1947 British Royal visit to Eshowe.  Enter off Windham Road, turn right into Dlinza Street (opposite the Museum Village) and follow the rough dirt road.  At the T-junction in the forest the right hand turn will lead you to Bishops Seat and the left hand turn will take you out of the forest beside the cemetery where you can turn back towards town and find the entrance again to the Dlinza Forest Aerial Boardwalk. 

Ntumeni Forest

Approximately 15 km from Eshowe on theNtumeni Road, a 750 ha reserve has small buck and a rich birdlife including the Crowned Eagle.  Two hiking trails of 1 hour or 3 hours in the evergreen, mist-belt indigenous forest.  There are no facilities.

Museum Village: Fort Nongqayi

Opening Hours:
Mon - Fri:  07h30 - 16h00
Sat, Sun & Public Holidays:  09h00 - 16h00

Closed:  Christmas Day ,  Day of Goodwill,  New Year's Day,  Good Friday

Museum Guides attend to all visitors.

Zululand Historical Museum:  Contact : Aurelian Mndaweni  - 035 - 4741141
Vukani Zulu Cultural Museum:  Contact:  Viv Garside - 035 - 4745274
Adams Outpost Restaurant & Tea Garden:  Contact Terry MacDonald - 035 - 4741618

Crafts of Africa:  Craft shop on the museum village premises

Phumani Paper-Making project is a community based poverty alleviation project that make beautiful hand made gifts out of local vegetation as well as sugar cane leaves and recycled paper.  Their products are on sale at theMuseumVillage.

The Museum Village - in the grounds of the picturesque Fort Nongqayi - houses a series of museums covering a wide range of local interest from early iron age to contemporary Zulu art and craft, from natural history to missionary history and from wars between nations to the battle against the tsetse fly.The three-turreted white fort which houses the Zululand Historical Museum was built in 1883 by the British to house the barefoot Zulu police force (the Nongqayi) whose task it was to protect and enforce British administration following the Anglo-Zulu War.
Also in the grounds is a relocated 19th century corrugated-iron settler's house with a restaurant and tea garden offering excellent food and refreshment in a relaxed atmosphere.

Although the Zululand Historical Museum depicts the history of Zululand from early iron age, its central focus is on the fascinating cross-cultural influences of the past 200 years.

Pride of place in the collection goes to the mobile wooden chair made for the ailing King Mpande by the first Norwegian missionary in Zululand, Bishop Hans Schreuder.

In the 1850's King Mpande had great difficulty in walking due to his obesity - caused probably by the disease now known as dropsy. Bishop Schreuder had gained a reputation as a 'doctor' amongst his Zulu converts and was called upon to alleviate the suffering of the king.

Also on display are several rare brass armbands (ingxotha) worn by kings and soldiers, who were decorated for their bravery during the time of Dingane, Mpande and Cetshwayo. These accessories - which were a sign of high status but incredibly uncomfortable to wear - reveal the early craft of Zulu metalwork.

The museum also houses an impressive collection of fine mahogany and teak furniture and memorabilia from the main residences which housed the only White Chief of Zululand, John Dunn, his 49 wives and 117 children. Although Dunn had adopted a Zulu lifestyle and customs, his taste in furnishings reflect a distinct European fondness for comfort.

Vukani Zulu Cultural Museum

There has been a renaissance in Zulu arts and craft since the Vukani Association was formed more than 30 years ago to revive the then-dying art of basketry.

Through Vukani, men and women have pooled their inherited knowledge of grasses, palm leaves, natural dyes, beadwork, woodcarving and ceramics to produce a range of contemporary items with a traditional theme.

The Vukani Museum houses some of the best work collected over the years. Several of the artists have gone on to receive international recognition and it is worth seeking their work out.

The late Nesta Nala came from a long line of ukhamba makers who lived in uThukela valley. Traditionally the clay pots would have been used for beer brewing and drinking but by working with new tools and designs, Nesta Nala elevated these everyday domestic objects to an art form.

A chance meeting with archaeologists excavating near her home in the 1980's exposed her to early iron age pottery designs which she then developed into her signature style and today this tradition is being carried on by her daughters.

Reuben Ndwandwe from the Hlabisa area is one of the few remaining men who still weave baskets. His imbenge and unyazi are characterised by their diamond designs and fine overstitching which create a lace-like texture.

Norwegian Missionary Chapel

Eshowe's modern history begins with the arrival of Norwegian missionaries in the mid-19th Century. In 1854 Rev Hans Schreuder of the NorwegianLutheranChurchwas granted permission by King Mpande to start a mission station at Ntumeni. Seven years later, a second Norgwegian, Rev Ommund Oftebro, established a mission at kwaMondi (situated in the present King Dinuzulu suburb).

The Zululand Mission Museum Chapel pays tribute to the legacy of these early men of God.

 Other Interesting Attractions

Vukanki Crafts/Beads

Contact Hazel Haines,  035 - 4741608.

A beautiful little craft shop situated in 1 Wantink Road, Eshowe.  Beadwork done by rural crafters and is of exquisite quality.

Norwegian and British Cemetries

Many graves of young British Soldiers and those of early Norwegian settlers in Eshowe.  The cemeteries are situated just beyond Fort Eshowe off the gravel road.

Phobane Lake

From Eshowe head towards Melmoth/Ulundi on the R66. About 10km out of Eshowe is a dirt road to your left (signposted Phobane Lake and Shakaland).

Cultural Villages

Shakaland: Now a Protea hotel, shakaland was built as a set for a film " Shaka Zulu", and was very popular to visit - this has developed to a well visited tourism enterprise.  Daily excursions for a tour on the area, zulu dancing shows and buffet meals.  Crafts for sale.  From Shakaland a spectacular view overlooking the Phobane Lake.  Accommodation in beehive huts.

KwaBhekitunga: A lovely setting - swimming pool, bar and beehive huts for accommodation - teambuilding for schools,  zulu dancing, rural excursions, and many more.

Battles and Sites

  • Battle of Nyezane
  • Fort Eshowe/Siege of Eshowe
  • British Military Cemetery
  • Norwegian Cemetery
  • Signal Hill Mbomboshana
  • Battle of Gingindlovu
  • Fort Curtis

 Monuments and Memorials

  • Fort Nongqayi
  • KwaMondi Mission Station/Fort Eshowe/Norwegian Cemetery
  • The Residency
  • Eshowe Gaol
  • King Cetshwayo's Memorial
  • The New KwaMondi Mission
  • Martyr's Cross
  • 1st and 2nd World War Memorial
  • KwaBulawayo
  • Coward's Bush
  • Mandawe Cross - This church was built in 1968 to commemorate the endeavours of the early missionaries in Zululand.  Overlooking the Nkwaleni Valley, the church is built in the form of an inverted milk pail with a large cross on top and is a remarkable landmark - off the P230.
  • Samarang - The oldest Victorian home in Zululand, built in 1883 by E A Brunner, trader, Member of Parlaiment and Magistrate for John Dunn.  This was the site of the 6-month trail of King Dinuzulu and was also the site of Brunner's trading store and bakery, the ovens of which can be seen in the grounds.  Visit by special appointment only. 
  • Medical Museum - by Dr Eric Brits