Natal is the capital city of the state of Rio Grande do Norte, on Brazil’s northeastern tip. It’s known for its extensive coastal sand dunes and star-shaped Forte dos Reis Magos, a 16th-century Portuguese fortress at the mouth of the Potengi River. North across the river, Genipabu is an area of towering dunes with a freshwater lagoon. The Via Costeira highway links a 15km stretch of beaches south of the fort.
The Drakensberg, from an Afrikaans word meaning “Dragon Mountains,” is a place of breathtaking beauty and one of the most popular destinations in the country. Jagged-backed peaks rise above dense forests and deep valleys, and cascades feed clear mountain streams. This spectacular region includes uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with soaring basalt peaks that are some of the highest in the country and San (Bushmen) rock paintings, as well as Royal Natal National Park with the Amphitheatre, a five-kilometer-long rock wall with one of the world’s highest waterfalls tumbling from above.
Kwa Cheetah Breeding Project
At the Kwa Cheetah Breeding Project, inside the gates of Nambiti Private Game Reserve, animal lovers can enjoy exhilarating hands-on interactions with these graceful creatures and help out a worthwhile cause at the same time. The experience begins with an educational presentation about the plight of the cheetah. Visitors are then able to pat the animals, take photos with them, and watch a demonstration of their incredible speed.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park
About 250 kilometers from Durban, World Heritage-listed iSimangaliso Wetland Park (formerly the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park) protects the largest estuarine system in Africa. iSimangaliso means “miracle and wonder” in Zulu, and the name is fitting for this beautiful biodiverse park. The eight interconnected ecosystems here include coral reefs, croc-filled rivers, lakes, swamplands, savanna, and coastal dunes. Thanks to this diversity of habitats, wildlife is abundant and varied.
Sani Pass is one of South Africa’s most spectacular mountain roads. Connecting Kwazulu-Natal with the Kingdom of Lesotho, the pass is an eight-kilometer-long unpaved road that climbs to heights of up to 2,876 meters. The road runs through the Mzimkulwana Nature Reserve, with scenery ranging from towering rock outcrops and green-cloaked mountains to dizzyingly steep ravines. Only vehicles with four-wheel drive are allowed on the road between the two frontier posts; on foot it takes between two and three hours.