Hilton, Natal Midlands
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The distinctly English country village of Hilton with its attractive sense of history lies only 10 kilometres from Pietermaritzburg at the start of the Midlands Meander.
Hiltons beginnings originated in the purchase of a large portion of the farm Ongegund in 1857 by Joseph Henderson, whose wife called their farm ‘Hilton’. Hilton is a good five degrees cooler than Pietermaritzburg, and it is this access to fresh air, coupled with first sightings of the Drakensberg, that lures people to Hilton. The town may now be home to 10 000 residents, but it manages to retain its village feel, right down to its meagre adherence to traffic control with only two traffic lights, and some distinct examples of Tudor-style architecture.
The broad streets are tree-lined, and although the village isn’t officially a ‘garden city’, it bears a strong resemblance to those cities so tagged, with window boxes brimming with flowers, garden clubs and green interest groups. Hilton is home to no fewer than five schools, including the boarding schools Hilton College and St Anne’s.
Hilton College has become the site of the Hilton Arts Festival, which spreads over nine venues on campus during September, and runs for two-and-a-half days, bringing the best of South African theatre to KwaZulu Natal. There is usually a line-up that includes drama, comedy, music, cabaret and an arts and craft market - most of them straight from the Grahamstown festival that happens in July.
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"I always feel like I'm back in a small village in the UK (my original home) when I visit Hilton because of the greenery and cooler conditions. It's a charming ..." - Mark Bountry, Cape Town
Visitorials: We Love South Africa
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We’ve asked those in the know to share their favourites things about Hilton. Find out where locals go for the best cup of coffee, lunch suggestions and much more. We’re letting you in on all of their secrets ... I Love Hilton because ...
Featured Attractions in (or near) Hilton
The source of the uMngeni River lies in the uMngeni Vlei area, an ancient wetland bounded by hills. From here it meanders eastward through undulating pastoral countryside until just before Midmar Dam, where it is joined by the Lions River. Below Midmar Dam the river plunges some 111 metres down ... more information
Adjacent to the Royal Show grounds in Pietermaritzburg lies Basani Arts and Crafts Centre in Hyslop Road. The centre, which has recently been completely renovated, boasts a gallery, a ceramics room and craft room containing a selection of Zulu crafts. Magwaza clay pots are on offer in the ... more information
For those that love South African nature and the outdoors, the Doreen Clark Nature Reserve offers all of this and more. Situated just outside Pietermaritzburg, this nature reserve spans seven hectares and boasts a magnificent forest that is bordered by pristine grassland ... more information
Howick Falls' other name is KwaNogqaza, the 'place of the tall one', for obvious reasons – the waterfall is a 95 metre cascade into a broiling, restless pool, regarded by the local Zulus with grave superstition, and said to be the place of the spirits of ancestors. Local legend believes that in the pooll lives a giant ... more information
The Maritzburg Golf Club in Pietermaritzburg is one of the oldest golf clubs in South Africa, dating back to 1886. It has lush, smooth cynodon greens; pine trees line many of the fairways and water hazards feature on seven holes; numerous bunkers; very hilly course with beautiful scenery; excellent test of golf ... more information
The enchantment of the Midlands has long inspired many a visitor and resident to creativity and as a result, local artists, potters and weavers combined to create an arts and crafts route in 1985, which was to become the highly successful and popular Midlands Meander. The route stretches ... more information
The large stretch of fresh water from the uMngeni, coupled with 1000 hectares of game park that contains red hartebeest, blesbok, reedbuck, black wildebeest, oribi and zebra, is what makes the Midmar Dam Nature Reserve so attractive. And the fact that it’s just 7 kilometres from Howick and 24 kilometres from ... more information
The Natal Zoological Gardens are a collection of both local and unusual animals - 44 different animal species to be precise. Aside from the fossas, there are leopards, various primates, a series of birds that include the black swan, crowned crane, peacock and blue crane, lemurs, parrots, kookaburras ... more information
The Queen Elizabeth Nature Reserve serves as the headquarters of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, KwaZulu-Natal’s nature conservation service. Situated in Hilton, the nature reserve is home to many beautiful species, including impala, blesbok, zebra, bushbuck, dassies, grey and blue ... more information
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