Mtunzini has all the hallmarks of being off the beaten
track - kilometres of pristine beach, modest development,
an air of not having being 'discovered' yet as well
as a laid-back lifestyle enjoyed by residents distrustful
of change in any form.
But, surprisingly, Zululand's
most idyllic coastal hideaway is just
a hop off the N2 and less than 90 minutes' drive north
of Durban. It's just waiting to be discovered!
Zulu word emthunzini means "a place in the shade"
but in the history of this beautiful small coastal
town it refers specifically to the place under the
milkwood trees near the Umlalazi River where
the White Zulu chief, John Dunn, would meet with the tribal
elders of the area.
Visiting the town today gives exactly that feeling - a place
in the shade.
Blessed with a sub-tropical climate (humid summers and mild
winters) and a high annual rainfall, Mtunzini - or The Village,
as the locals often refer to it - boasts a clean,
safe, peaceful and abundant environment with a stunning
outlook over the Umlalazi Nature Reserve
and the sea.
Mtunzini was declared a Conservancy in 1995
and has also been awarded for its commitment to the preservation
of its natural heritage.
A grove of raphia palms beside the railway
line is one of the few declared natural monuments in the country
and it is the best place to spot the rare Palmnut Vulture
which nests near the top of the palm.
The palms were introduced to Mtunzini about 100 years ago
from the swamp forests of the Kosi Bay and it's one of only
six palm species indigenous to South Africa. The raphia palm
can grow to a height of 25m in 25 years and its leaves are
amongst the largest in the plant kingdom.
There is a timber boardwalk through the swamp
forest, provinding easy access to the heart of the colony
of raphia palms where the prime specimens create an awesome
Mtunzini boasts a variety of leisure activities - including
a challenging nine-hole 71-par golf course, fishing, waterskiing,
tennis, bowls and horse riding - as well as a range of accommodation
establishments and restaurants, making Mtunzini the ideal
coastal base for exploring the nearby game reserves and surrounding
cultural and historical attractions.