Close to the ground.

GPS: S 28 53.379 E 031 28.449 | pop. 15,000 | elevation 532 m/1,745 ft

Eshowe has had a prominent history in Zululand. It was once the home to a number of Zulu Kings and the site of a number of bloody battles during the Anglo Boer War. It was also the first European town to be established in Zululand and was the capital under the British. The city serves as a commercial hub for the region and is located only 25 km from the coast. Rolling hills and the lush Dhlinza Forest surround it.

Zululand and the Elephant Coast make up the northern part of the KwaZulu-Natal province. This area has long been the home of the Zulu people. Rich history abounds in the largely undeveloped coastline that runs all the way to Mozambique, the handful of nature reserves and wetland parks, and in the lush green hills of the interior. Much of inland territory outside of the few cities remains an untouched, rural slice of South Africa.

Fort Nongqayi Museum Village

Fort Nongqayi Museum Village is a multifaceted complex that provides a wealth of insight into Eshowe's bygone years. Though the three-towered Fort Nongqayi is a product of poor construction and lack of materials, the Zulu Nongqayi Police who used to inhabit the fort were spared from battle and the fort never came under attack. The picturesque building now houses an impressive museum dedicated to Zulu history and culture. Tickets for the fort museum include a visit to the Mission Museum Chapel and the Vukani Museum. They can be purchased at Crafts of Africa, which has small collection of crafts and curios made by local rural crafters.

The Vukani Museum

The Vukani Museum houses one of the finest collections of Zulu baskets in the region and features the work of both local and world-famous crafters. The intricately woven wares are accompanied by pottery and handcrafted woodwork.

Phoenix Zululand Art Gallery

Phoenix Zululand Art Gallery is also on the museum village grounds and is part of the Phoenix Restorative Justice Project, which works with Zululand prisoners to use artistic expression as an emotional outlet and provides training to prepare inmates for life after release.

Dlinza Forest Reserve

Dlinza Forest Reserve is 250 hectares of dense indigenous forest. You could spend hours here wandering the forest and hear nothing but the birds, a big attraction for the multitude of birders that come to catch a glimpse of the endangered Spotted ground-thrush and the other 65 species of birds found amongst the trees. An Aerial Boardwalk cuts through the forest just below the canopy before reaching the 20-meter-tall observation tower, which offers expansive views of the forest below. For those wishing to stay closer to the ground there are two short walking trails that traverse the reserve. The Impunzi Trail (1.3 km) takes you past the giant Wild Plum tree, one of the biggest in the forest. The Unkonka Trail (1.8 km) is only slightly longer and takes you past the river before joining back with the Impunzi Trail.

Mpushini Falls

Mpushini Falls is a beautiful waterfall to cool off in on a hot day. You can climb on the rocks behind the waterfall and swim in the pool below. To get there, take Main St southwest out of town, passing the turnoffs for the museum. Keep right when the road forks and go down a steep untarred road. Continue to follow the signs for a left turn towards the falls where you can park and take a 15-minute walk to the waterfall. Locals advise against going alone, especially for women. It is also possible to walk to the falls from the Fort Nongqayi Museum Village.

Entumeni Nature Reserve

Entumeni Nature Reserve is just 16 km west of Eshowe off the road to Nkandla and is the less travelled of the two Eshowe reserves, but has longer and more challenging hikes. There is no office or entrance fee, but it's advised to head out in the morning to avoid getting stuck in the reserve after dark. The two-hour uPiti Trail is a pleasant circular route running through the forest and is the best option if you are short on time. But the more challenging uKhozi Trail is the most scenic. The path takes about four hours and brings you through gorges and past the rumbling Ngoji Waterfall, which marks the halfway point. Check with the guys at George's Hotel if you are interested in a guide. To get there, head 13 km west of Eshowe on the road to Nkandla, and turn left at the Entumeni Nature Reserve sign. Continue 3.5 km to the park entrance where there's a picnic site on the right.

Baobab Art Gallery

Baobab Art Gallery is run by accomplished artist Janine Jones, who offers art classes in African pottery, rustic mobiles, crafts and jewelry making. The classes are perfect for kids, but can accommodate adults as well. Stop by her gallery in the morning to check out her unique wares and artwork.

Sikanye Crafts

Sikanye Crafts was started in 2002 as an employment empowerment initiative for rural women supporting extended families and AIDS orphans. The project sells handcrafted traditional Zulu beadwork as well as some more modern beading styles.

Made @ Home

Made @ Home is a delicious way to spend a Saturday morning in Eshowe. Local fresh produce, pickled goods, handmade crafts and secondhand items are for sale in an open-air market. There is also a coffee shop where you can enjoy muffins and cake in the garden.

Crafts of Africa

Crafts of Africa has a small but representative selection of area crafts. This is also where you buy your tickets for the museum complex.

Eshowe Mall

Eshowe Mall has clothing stores, a movie rental, Pick 'n Pay, post office and Internet facilities.


George Hotel & Zululand Backpackers

George Hotel & Zululand Backpackers is the only backpacker option in town, and what it lacks in luxury it makes up for in fun and Zulu decor. The bar is the most happening thing in Eshowe at night and the owners run an eco-adventure company that can assist you with fulfilling their list of "101 Things to do in Eshowe." At the time of research, remodeling was underway in the backpackers to hopefully give it the TLC it's been desperate for. For those who want an upgrade from the backpackers but still want to be close to the action, the George Hotel is by the same owner and on the same premises. It has basic, clean, en suite rooms in a historic 1906 Eshowe building.


Dlinza Forest Accommodation

Dlinza Forest Accommodation has four self-catering log cabins each with full kitchens, small living areas and ample braai space in the yard. The cabins have direct access to the Dlinza Forest and can sleep three people comfortably.

Eshowe Guesthouse

Eshowe Guesthouse is also located at the entrance of the Dlinza Forest and has light and airy rooms often adorned with sprigs of lavender. It's a pleasant place with braai facilities and access to the owner's swimming pool.


Birds of Paradise

Birds of Paradise offers tranquil accommodation situated in their expansive garden lawn complete with a swimming pool, tennis court and trampoline. Smartly decorated, spacious rooms open onto private seating areas and some have balconies. Self-catering rooms with small kitchens are also available.

Adam's Outpost Restaurant & Tea Garden

Adam's Outpost Restaurant & Tea Garden is hands-down the best food and scenery combo in town. Located within the museum complex, it serves healthy and hearty soups and sandwiches. Its outdoor seating makes it a perfect place for a leisurely coffee or lunch.

The Quarters Restaurant

The Quarters Restaurant is one of the more popular restaurants in town, serving German schnitzel specialties as well as standard grills. It's in the same building as the most popular bar in town, which also has a pub menu.

Memory Lane

Memory Lane is located in a mall, but has good coffee and decadent cakes.

The Happy George Bar & Zululand Brewery

The Happy George Bar & Zululand Brewery is the most popular source of evening entertainment. Local Zululand Brews are on tap, large TVs air the game of the day and deep sofas and a deck fill with locals and backpackers alike.

The Happy George Bar & Zululand Brewery

The Happy George Bar & Zululand Brewery is the most popular source of evening entertainment. Local Zululand Brews are on tap, large TVs air the game of the day and deep sofas and a deck fill with locals and backpackers alike.