KwaZulu Natal DestinationsRichards Bay, Zululand
The town of Richards Bay lies at the sea edge of an ancient floodplain, almost halfway between Durban and Kosi Bay and forms the tourist gateway to Zululand and Maputaland.
Richards Bay began its life as a makeshift harbour, set up by Sir Frederick Richards, after whom it is also named, during the Anglo-Boer War of 1879. For many years, the town was little more than a sleepy fishing town until a hydrographic survey revealed that Richards Bay had even greater development potential than Durban. However, the transformation of Richards Bay into the country’s largest harbour and the world’s largest coal terminal only happened in 1976.
Despite this, Richards Bay has some of the most spectacular wetland scenery and unspoilt beaches on the north coast of KwaZulu Natal. The Zululand Birding Route includes Richards Bay Harbour and the Game Reserve, known also as New Mouth, on its route. This part of the route covers sandbanks, mud flats, extensive mangroves, freshwater pans and forest areas and bird watchers can spot a number of rarities such as the cuckoo hawk and pygmy goose. New Mouth features a number of aquatic birds as well as hippos and crocodiles.
Richards Bay is also fairly close to Gauteng and serves as a sea destination for many who want to escape the city life. It is a vibrant town that now actively markets a new concept in tourism - Industrial tourism. Groups in town for business are able to visit industrial plants, mines and other operations, particularly relevant for Richards Bay as some R1-billion is to be spent on expanding the export capacity of the harbour to 92 million tons of coal by 2008.
Richards Bay has excellent recreational facilities and visitors can enjoy art galleries, fishing, beachcombing, bird watching, surfing, swimming, canoeing as well as some wonderful drives in and around Richards Bay. One such example is inland from Gingindlovu to Eshowe, via the Nkwalini Valley to Empangeni - a gorgeous drive.
For more info about Richards Bay see our articles on the SA Travel News Blog:
• Richards Bay for outdoor enthusiasts