The uMngeni Footprints Route was named because it is located in the uMngeni Valley in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Midlands. The route region is known as the Gateway to the Midlands (the word uMngenena means ''the gateway'' in Zulu) as it comprises the southern portion of the Midlands area. The area is also renowned for the capture site of South Africa’s first democratically-elected president, Nelson Mandela.
The route covers the two main towns of Howick and Mpophomeni – approximately twenty minutes’ drive north of Pietermaritzburg on the N3 national road. The two towns have such varying attractions between them that a stay of at least a few days is essential.
Reasons to visit
The route boasts a number of attractions such as the Howick Falls, the Howick Museum, the Mandela Memorial Site, the Zulu Mpophomeni Tourism Experience, a range of local craft and the Midmar Dam, all set in the beautiful surroundings of the KZN Midlands.
When: 1 June 2014
Where: Between Pietermaritzburg and Durban
Tel: +27 33 897 8650
The Comrades Marathon, world’s greatest ultra-marathon, 89km long, is a South African institution, internationally recognised for the body-sapping challenge it poses and the camaraderie it fosters among its thousands of participants. Run between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, the race alternates annually between the up run from Durban and the down run from Pietermaritzburg.
The area around the Howick Falls was first settled permanently by James Archbell, a Wesleyan missionary. At the time, the main ford across the river was situated at Alleman’s Drift – about 1km upstream from the falls. By 1850, the route across the river and into the hinterland had been altered to be more convenient, although more dangerous, to just above the falls. This spot became increasingly important as the road linking the port of Durban to the hinterland.
Today a modern bridge stands where once many travellers, oxen and horses were swept over the falls. There are several other waterfalls in the vicinity of Howick, including Cascade Falls (25m), Shelter Falls (37m) and the stunning Karkloof Falls (105m). The best place to observe the Howick Falls is from the viewing platform. The fit and energetic can brave the steep climb down into the gorge - the scene is impressive, but then so is the return climb!
Also of historical significance in the town is the Anglo-Boer War cemetery where both British and Boer graves are located and a memorial has been erected. The Laager Wall opposite the Howick Museum was built after the battle of Isandlwana in 1879 against a possible Zulu attack. A portion of the wall remains today as a monument.
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