KwaZulu Natal Tourist AttractionsThe Route 66 Zululand Heritage Route
Whilst the name of the route brings the battlefields of Ladysmith, Colenso, Dundee and Volksrust to mind, Route 66 is of a slightly different nature. Rather than heading up and around the N3, Route 66 takes one along a parallel route, slightly further north east, that links the towns of Gingindlovu, Eshowe, Melmoth, Ulundi, Nongoma and Pongola.
Where? Route 66 links the towns of Gingindlovu, Eshowe, Melmoth, Ulundi, Nongoma and Pongola in Zululand, KwaZulu Natal
When? Best explored during daylight hours
The route traces one of the oldest trade routes through Zululand, once ridden by horse and ox wagons by early settlers to the then Port Natal, in similar fashion to the American equivalent (although their Route 66 has not only largely been abandoned in favour of more modern highways, but incorporates 'history' in the form of wigwam shaped motels and original fast-food outlets).
Zululand's Route 66, by comparison, traces the path of transport riders, missionaries, soldiers, settlers and farmers as they made their way inland. It also explores the incredible clashes that took place here - the tribal wars of the early 1800s, the Voortrekker-Zulu War of 1838, the Anglo-Zulu War of 1878 and the Bhambatha Rebellion of 1906.
Route 66 starts at Dokodweni toll plaza on the N2 just south of Durban. It follows the alternative route inland to Eshowe past sugar cane fields and rolling hills. En route learn about the history that carved these hills. Visit Fort Nongqayi a museum filled with Zululand's past, particularly the basketry and pots.
A bit of a diversion will take you to the Dlinza Forest to walk its aerial boardwalk, or Ntumeni Nature Reserve and the Nkandla Forest. Head on to Melmoth and Mtonjaneni and visit the eMakhosini Ophathe Heritage Park where you can visit the Spirit of the eMakhosini Monument that overlooks the Valley of the Kings.
Ulundi hosted the battle on Gqokli Hill and was the site of the final battle of the Anglo-Zulu War. In Ondini you'll find the recreated residence of King Cetshwayo. From here you can divert to the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park or continue to Pongola and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
For more attractions in Zululand and R66 see Zululand Attractions.