CELEBRATING VALENTINE’S DAY IN KZN
This Valentine’s Day KZN offers many opportunities for spending time together and making wonderful romantic memories, with heart stopping adventures and stunning scenery
Although many couples are finding purse strings a little tight right now, there’s no reason not to celebrate the global day of romance. This Valentine’s Day, love can certainly be in the air as you enjoy the great outdoors together and experience a little of KwaZulu-Natal’s distinctive, eclectic culture.
Valentine’s Day is about making memories. There are plenty of opportunities to dine out and book spa days. But, this year, in KwaZulu-Natal, we’ve decided to add a little romance by finding six slightly more unusual experiences that you can enjoy with a loved one. There are heart stopping adventures and stunning scenery – what better province to visit to pop that all important question?
Pack a picnic: Traditional picnics are truly magical. The good thing about picnics in KZN is that it’s definitely not one size fits all and there are many interesting spots that extend beyond simply enjoying sarmies on your favourite beach to dining al fresco on the top of a mountain in the Drakensberg.
In Durban, you can pack a basket (don’t forget some pink champagne), add some board games and head to the likes of the Durban Botanical Gardens, the Japanese Gardens in Durban North and Westville’s Palmiet Nature Reserve for some old-fashioned fun in the shade of a tree. Paradise Valley, just a few minutes from the city of Durban, offers a perfect picnic spot as well as trails into the forest in the valley with the added bonus of a waterfall.
Try People’s Park. As the name suggests, this open space is designed for people rather than plants with a range of activities for adults and kids. Located beside the Moses Mabhida Stadium, it has a massive modern play area and a 1 km racing track and field, shaded pergolas, perfect for picnics, and fountains as well as space for cycling, skateboarding or roller skating. If you’re that couple who needs to keep the kids busy while you enjoy some quality time together, this one’s for you.
The Drakensberg, with its plethora of hiking trails, is the perfect picnic venue. Try World’s View at Giants Castle with its 360-degree views of this incredible mountain range. Alternatively, if you’d like a romantic picnic on the wild side, head to Tala Private Game Reserve, near Camperdown or Gwahumbe near mid-Illovo.
Bike or hike: If you need to work off some energy, grab a bike. For those who don’t have their own, there’s always the option to hire. R70 for a bicycle and R140 for a tandem (romance on wheels) will give you time to cycle Durban’s legendary promenade from the harbour mouth to Blue Lagoon, the Moses Mabhida stadium and beyond. There are many stop off points for refreshments including the iconic Bike and Bean right on the Promenade.
Those looking for something more challenging can head for Giba Gorge in the Giba Valley alongside the N3 highway. There are trails for avid mountain bikers and trail runners as well as a special spot for Kiddies BMX. You can picnic on the lawn or grab refreshments from the onsite café. The reasonable entrance fee won’t leave you out of pocket. The Drakensberg resorts and those along the KZN North Coast also offer great mountain and trail biking adventures for both seasoned and beginner bikers.
Take a Cruise: Cruising city canals is not restricted to the Romanic city of Venice. You can board one of the Zulumoon Gondolas at the dock at uShaka Marine World and then spend a few magical hours admiring the sights of the Durban Point Waterfront with its lovely bridges as well as the fish life in the canal itself. Although most gondola tours are done during the day, you can reserve a special tour at night. You can also enjoy a cruise with the love of your life through Durban’s harbour as the sun sets. Even more unusual is a sunset cruise along the estuary within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Sip sundowners, enjoy some snacks and peek at hippo’s, crocs, fish eagles and other majestic water birds from a double decker boat as you pass buy.
Conquer the Arch: For some reason, people love proposing somewhere on high. One such spot is the 106m high arch above Durban’s distinctive Moses Mabhida Stadium. Take in the city scenery and the breath-taking views of the East Coast as you make your way up the 500 steps that make up the Adventure Walk. Again, this a spot where you can make a special moment even more unforgettable and even steel a kiss and a wonderful picture for your album. For the more adventurous romantics, there’s also the Big Rush Big Swing where you can swing from a rope attached to the majestic arch!
Romance on high: Other “highly” romantic spots include Oribi Gorge, which is about two hours from Durban. Visit the Lake Eland Game reserve and take the zip line, abseil down a 110-metre cliff face or walk hand-in-hand across the suspension bridge above the gorge. For the more adventurous romantics, there’s bungee jumping and white-water rafting.
With a 4 x 4 and passport in hand, you can make you way up Sani Pass and enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful mountain scenery not to mention the adrenaline rush of winding up along dirt roads along cliff faces. At the top of the pass, you can step over to Lesotho and visit the highest pub in Southern Africa which has been frequented by royalty and Hollywood stars. You can even overnight at the Sani Lodge Backpackers to enjoy a birds’ eye view of the sunset the next morning.
Walk Beneath the Ocean: Find yourselves in another world. The innovative Ocean Walker at uShaka Marine World allows you to walk slowly, almost like an astronaut, along the floor of the Open Ocean exhibit whilst gazing at the huge fish and rays as they mill slowly around you. Alternatively, you can even hazard a shark cage dive for an adrenaline rush. A stroll through the “shipwreck” aquarium or even an hour spent snorkelling in the lagoon are other memorable ways of giving this Valentine’s a truly marine spin. If you’d like to venture away from Durban, there is shark diving and wreck diving along the Ugu South Coast as well at Sodwana Bay.