With interprovincial borders open once again, Clarens visitors who make their way from the South Coast (Durban and surrounds) can expect to be treated to the pristine and magnificence of the Midlands Meander that will be sure to leave an everlasting impression on you.
The summer landscape of the Kwa-Zulu Natal midlands closely resembles that of Northern Europe, and visitors are treated with one of the country’s most picturesque views of the natural beauty and green pastures the various routes has to offer.
From One Scenic Setting to Another
In many ways, the Midlands Meander can set the tone for what you can anticipate in our little town of Clarens. Travellers are met with a quaint ambience throughout their trip, with a backdrop of some of the most beautiful sights you’ll see in the country, easily making one forget of the 4-hour drive that you’re on – and that’s not even getting to the selection of attractions along the way.
With the Meander and its 5 routes starting as far back as Pietermaritzburg, there’s a host of worthy attractions that explorers can stop by, but it can be hard to decide on what to stop by and what to leave for travellers on a limited timeframe and budget. We share our top 10 attractions throughout the Midlands and Clarens.
Mandela Capture Monument.
The very spot where apartheid forces captured president Nelson Mandela, has been turned into a historical landmark with a sculpture like no other. At a distance, 50 uniquely shaped 10-feet columns make up a sombre image of our international icon.
About the artwork, its creator, artist Marco Cianfanelli, says: “This represents the momentum gained in the struggle through the symbolic of Mandela’s capture. The 50 columns represent the 50 years since his capture, but they also suggest the idea of many making the whole; of solidarity. It points to an irony as the political act of Mandela’s incarceration cemented his status as an icon of struggle, which helped ferment the groundswell of resistance, solidarity and uprising, bringing about political change and democracy.” This monument is something that needs to be seen in-person, as very few pictures will do its magnificence any justice.
Everyone probably has their own idea of what heaven looks like, and we’d guess that Chocolate Heaven would be the depiction of it for many. Chocolate Heaven is a little shop situated in Nottingham that is solely dedicated to the decadence that is chocolate. Taste and shop the produce of one of the best chocolate makers in the country or book the one-of-kind Dippingz® Experience – where chocolate fights, painting, and making a mess (with chocolate) is the order of the day.
Vineyards & Wine Tasting
Yup… you read correctly. The Western Cape isn’t the only province in South Africa with prestigious wine farms. Some of the best wine producers in the country hail from the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands.
The Abingdon and Highgate Wine Estates in Lions River are two of the most renowned wines to come out of the Midlands and even South Africa. With activities including wine tastings, pre-packed picnics, wine do’s and don’ts workshops, as well as wine tours that explain the process from grape to bottle, there’s more than enough to satisfy the wine-lover in you.
If you’re itching to curb your fishing and fly fishing yearnings before you make your way to Clarens, you’re spoilt for choice in the Midlands on the way here. With some of the most popular fishing spots in the country which includes, Fordoun, Hartford House, and Caversham Mill.
Karkloof Farmer’s Market
If you happen to be travelling on a Saturday, the Karkloof Farmer’s Market is a must-visit in our opinion. Fresh fruit and vegetables, home-baked treats, and other organic products are on offer at the market and its numerous stalls. Set to operate again sometime soon following the COVID-19 pandemic, the market supports the local farmers in the area. It will be open every Saturday if you want to treat yourself to some locally produced goodness.
Swissland Cheese/ Marakesh Cheese
If you’re a cheese lover, a stop at Swissland Cheese should definitely be on the agenda. The unique enterprise with its rich history as a pioneer for a new food culture in South Africa by introducing brie and camembert to the market. The farm produces multiple award-winning cheeses sure to satisfy your all of your cheese cravings.
Get An Adrenaline Rush
For those who prefer the more adventurous side of life, there are plenty of adrenaline-filled stops along the way. Much like you’ll find here in Clarens, horse-riding, quad biking, mountain biking, and white river rafting opportunities are aplenty. For an unusual extra bit of adventure, Checkpoint 103 offers go-karting, zorbing, paintball, and bubble soccer for a unique experience.
At 111 metres high, Howick Falls situated on the Umgeni River is a sight to behold. The striking waterfall has become a popular tourist attraction in recent years, with a restaurant and markets stalls selling curios and other souvenirs. Known by the local Zulu people as ‘KwaNogqaza’, which means ‘Place of the Tall One’, local legend has it that the pool at the bottom of the falls is the residence of the Inkanyamba, a giant serpent-like creature.
Visit this unique gallery revealing vibrant and exquisite ceramics, beautifully hand-painted with unbelievable detail. Ardmore has succeeded at exhibiting African fauna and flora in a captivating way and has taken the overseas market by storm. African animals and plants wrap around vessels, cups and trays and are truly masterpieces.
Beer Tasting at Nottingham Beer Brewery
Long before craft beers were “a thing” amongst hipsters and millennials, the Nottingham Beer Brewery has been producing an outstanding range of beers with the purest spring water drawn from an artesian well on the ground. Using only the finest quality hops and malted barley, beers of all kinds are created with exceptional character and well-rounded tastes. This charming brewery is a must-stop for any true beer-lover.