Exploring the Zulu Kingdom, its 1000 hills and the city of Durban in South Africa

The massive views of the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. (Oct. 6, 2018)

He’s considered one of the most famous warriors of African history, King Shaka Zulu, and on Saturday our group spent the day walking the modern streets of the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province.

“The illegitimate son of the Zulu King, Shaka (born circa 1787) was exiled and shunned since childhood. He grew to become a formidable warrior with the intelligence and instinct for command. In 1816, fueled by revenge, Shaka had his own half-brother, the King, assassinated…then claimed the throne. Shaka was now chief of a kingdom that stretched along the fertile East Coast of South Africa,” according to Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s 6-part series Africa’s Great Civilizations available on Amazon and very worth seeing.

The Zulu monarch was killed by three assassins sometime in 1828 two of them being his half brothers, Dingane and Mhlangana. The figure of Shaka remains an ambiguous one defying simplistic depictions of the Zulu king as a heroic, nation builder on one hand, or a depraved monster on the other.

But the people he left behind dot the dramatic landscape along the Valley of 1000 Hills. The Zululand villages with a population of around 40,000, snuck up on me and got me in the feels in a way I was not expecting. The beauty of the land is beyond breath-taking and the love of the people for their families and their land is electric. I know the people of Zululand have their issues with unemployment and in some cases alcohol and drugs, but the land they live on is paradise and they know it.

We spent Saturday walking through just a tiny part of the Zululand community, met a healer, enjoyed traditional songs and dances from the local children and spent the night at the home of local a Zulu woman and her family.

Here’s the Kingdom of Zulu and the Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province and the city of Durban as we enjoy a group dinner and say good-bye to several tour mates and hello to two new ones. Next is the mountainous beauty of Drakensberg in South Africa.

Me standing on the hillside by the Light Providers community center in the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. The center is a place for organizations to meet and villagers can come together. It also containers a library and computer center. (Oct. 6, 2018)
The Light Providers local community center of the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. In the parking lot is our Intrepid tour bus. (Oct. 6, 2018)
Our tour group in the community center’s library at the the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. Our two guides, Maxwell and Cindy, explained what we could expect from our day in their village. (Oct. 6, 2018)
There are main roads but when you walk through the village, you are walking on various unpaved pathways through the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. (Oct. 6, 2018)
Walking on paths through the the village of the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. (Oct. 6, 2018)
More views of the lush Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. (Oct. 6, 2018)
The traditional Zulu healer outside of her rondavel at the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. (Oct. 6, 2018)
Inside the traditional healer’s rondavel in the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. Photo courtesy of tour mate Ray. Left to right: Alexis, Corrine, Helen, Kate, Van, Angela and me. (Oct. 6, 2018)
The traditional healer, sitting on the floor by some of the items she uses to help her clients of the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. As a young woman, she suffered with a headache and was told that it was a sign that she was called to be a healer. When called, the healer must leave her family and go to another healer for training that could take up to six years. How long the training takes is determined by the healer’s ancestors who, along with another traditional healer, guide the novice healer in the process. Behind the healer are tour mates Nick, Gunnar and Ian. (Oct. 6, 2018)
A close-up of the traditional healer with her headgear that identifies her as a healer at the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. The healer is a mother of five and a grandmother of eight. She trained for six years to be a traditional healer. (Oct. 6, 2018)
The roads throughout the village of the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province are dirt roads but the views are incredible. (Oct. 6, 2018)
Young men hanging out a small eatery at the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. (Oct. 6, 2018)
The rondavels overlooking the the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. The rondavel in the middle is where a family lives but the one to the right of it is where for the ancestors and where the elders go to communicate with the ancestors but only the men can call the ancestors. (Oct. 6, 2018)
The massive views of the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. (Oct. 6, 2018)
The massive views of the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. (Oct. 6, 2018)
Inside the ancestor’s rondavel our Zulu guide, Maxwell, explained that the elders the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. The blue container to the right is where the soca beer is being made to quench the ancestor’s thirst. The beer is made of flour, bread, purée apple, sugar and water. (Oct. 6, 2018)
The children, who sang and dance inside the rondevall, are waving good-bye to us and thanking us for coming to their village at the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. (Oct. 6, 2018)
This is actually a one room liquor store where we stopped to pick up beer and wine before heading to our home stay at the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. Evidently my American accent is very popular and I even had several offers to come back home with me to the U.S. (Oct. 6, 2018)
The beautiful African sunset at the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province.(Oct. 6, 2018)
Inside the kitchen and home of Mama, our home stay hostess, at the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. The house has electricity and running water plus one indoor bathroom and an outhouse. (Oct. 7, 2018)
Inside Mama’s home, where six of us Intrepid travelers…along with our Zulu guide Cindy, spent the night and enjoyed this Sunday morning breakfast at the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. (Oct. 7, 2018)
The bedroom I shared with two other Intrepid tour group members at our Zulu home stay at the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. Two slept in the bed and I slept rather comfortably with my sleeping bag on the floor next to them. (Oct. 7, 2018)
A group home stay photo with Mama, her daughters, granddaughter, our Intrepid guide Meshack and members of our group who spent the night at Mama’s house at the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. (Oct. 7, 2018)
The incredible views from Mama’s front porch at the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. (Oct. 7, 2018)
Mama’s house on top of one of the many hills at the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. (Oct. 7, 2018)
Mama’s house on top of one of the many hills at the Kingdom of Zulu and its Valley of 1000 Hills in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. (Oct. 7, 2018)
I finally got a descent photo of the gorgeous jacaranda trees, while we’re driving down the highway from the Kingdom of Zulu to Durban, South Africa. (Oct. 7, 2018)
We left the Kingdom of Zulu and arrived in Durban, a little less than two hours away, on Sunday. Durban is South Africa’s second most populous city and a draw for tourists because of its sandy beaches. (Oct. 7, 2018)
The city of Durban, South Africa, along the Mahatma Ghandi street in town. (Oct. 7, 2018)
In Durban we stayed at the Happy Hippo hostel and I was able to score an upgrade…a room all to myself. It had twin beds…instead of a double, but in all honesty, I didn’t care. It was just nice to have space so I could spread out and get organized again. The upgrade to a private room was all of 335 Rand…a whopping $22.63 U.S. And, I was able to get some clothes washed for 70 Rand…$4.73 U.S. Some of the dorm-like rooms have up to four twin beds and shared bathroom facilities. Thankfully the bathroom facilities were just a short walk away from my room. (Oct. 7, 2018)
Sunday was our last day together as a full Intrepid tour group traveling together from Johannesburg to Durban, South Africa, having our farewell dinner at Mayo in the LeShaka Marine World outdoor mall in Durban. (Oct. 7, 2018)
Sunday was our last day together as a full Intrepid tour group traveling together from Johannesburg to Durban, South Africa, having our farewell dinner at Mayo in the LeShaka Marine World outdoor mall in Durban. (Oct. 7, 2018)
Sunday was our last day together as a full Intrepid tour group traveling together from Johannesburg to Durban, South Africa, having our farewell dinner at Mayo in the LeShaka Marine World outdoor mall in Durban. (Oct. 7, 2018)
On our Intrepid bus leaving Durban on Monday and waving to our former tour mates as we continue on to South Africa’s mountainous region of Drakensberg. (Oct. 8, 2018)