ROUTE 66 – THE ZULULAND HERITAGE ROUTE - This new route along the R66 provincial road, runs from uPhongolo in the north to Gingindlovu on the Zululand Coastal Belt where it again joins the N2. This route focuses mainly on Zulu Culture and Heritage, on key events such as the annual Zulu Royal Reed Dance, Ulundi serves as the gateway to both entrances of the Route.
The air over Ulundi is clean and fresh, and only a hint of shimmering heat haze is likely to blur the sharpness of the horizon as you approach the valley of the kings. In Ulundi high-rise, modern government buildings, shops, hotel and lodges are little more than a stone’s throw from traditional Zulu beehive huts.
Modern, luxury cars share dirt roads with slowly-plodding Nguni cattle. Goats and chickens wander unhindered into modern shops – and nobody cares in this easy-going Heart of Zululand. But these contrasts are to be expected for Ulundi is the gateway to the Heart of the Zulu Kingdom. It has many modern trappings, but it is also deep within the ancestral land of a nation that has proudly maintained its traditional way of life.
Ulundi is the meeting place of culture. The latest update on Zulu Culture/Heritage is the modern uMgungundlovu Multi-Media Centre…accommodating modern exhibitions, press button exhibition tables, conference centre, film theatre, viewing tower, amphi-theatre, a small shop offering refreshments and cultural artifacts. Adding to it the umgungundlovu Umuzi (kraal) rebuilt portion and Piet Retief’s grave makes this a not to be missed experience.
At Ondini, King Cetshwayo’s residence has been partially recreated and well trained tour guides are on hand to help bring back the era of great Zulu leaders and warriors. On 35km from Ulundi – also along the P700 which is newly tarred – is the world-renowned Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, made famous for the invaluable part it has played in saving both the white and the black rhino. The Cengeni Gate entrance into Imfolozi is a plus indeed. This section offers you some of the best game viewing in the park and is also known for its wilderness trails.
You can explore the area on your own – it is perfectly safe, and the people are warm and welcoming. When you visit Ondini you stay in a Zulu beehive hut, and enjoy the traditional food and hospitality offered by the Umuzi, or homestead. Ulundi is the ideal springboard for exploring the Zululand District. The town has banking facilities plus a complete new shopping mall, Garden Court, luxury and themed lodges and a variety of bed and breakfasts owned by locals who will all go out of their way to link you to guides and outfits offering escorted tours. The new down town shopping mall is worth a visit.