KwaZulu Natal DestinationsPongola, Zululand
The town of Pongola is small town just 10 km from the Swaziland border in the foothills of the Lebombo Mountains. Rich in Anglo and Zulu Boer War history, Pongola is surrounded by 50 km² of sugarcane and subtropical fruit plantations. It is just 270 km from the southern gates of the Kruger Park and tourist attractions include local game farms and lodges, the Pongolapoort or Jozini Dam and a local 9-hole golf course. Pongola lies on the N2, wedged between the Swaziland border and the Phongolo River, meaning ‘the trough’ because of its long, deep pools with steep sides.
This river plays an important role in the area, filling the pans with water in flood season and supporting a population of fish, crocodiles, hippos, aquatic birds and people. Where the Pongolo River passes through the Lebombo Mountains is Jozini dam, very popular as a Tiger fishing destination that borders with the Pongola Nature Reserve and Game Reserve, meaning you can view wildlife from a boat on the dam.
A main attraction in Pongola is the Pongola Game Reserve, a private farm through which the Pongola River runs. The area around Pongola is home today to 4 of the Big 5, just the lion is excluded from this list. One can participate in a local Rhino tracking programme on foot and there is also an Elephant tracking programme. Initially, both of these animals were on hunters’ hit lists so that what appeared to be an inexhaustible number of game dwindled fast.
In 1894 Paul Kruger, President of the old Transvaal Republic, declared the Pongola Game Reserve. Today, this has been re-proclaimed, at least in part, as the Pongola Bush Nature Reserve, which borders on the Pongola Game Reserve. The Pongola Bush Nature Reserve contains a valuable piece of mist belt, evergreen forest with fine examples of yellowwood trees and over 120 species of bird. The reserve can only be visited following an arrangement with the KwaZulu Natal Wildlife zone officer.