Eshowe is the oldest town of British settlement in Zululand in South Africa and is a good base to see the Zulu culture. The town itself is enmeshed with the Dlinza forest, one of five remaining coastal scarp forests in Kwazulu-Natal.


In 1861, Reverend Hans Schrueder of the Norwegian Mission Society was given permission by King Mpande to start a mission station nearby.

During the Anglo-Zulu War, in 1879, British forces occupied the mission but the fort was besieged by Zulu forces for 10 weeks. The Zulu forces razed the fort to the ground, much as it is today near the town of Gezinsila.

Fort Nongqayi was built by the British in 1883, and the town served as the administrative headquarters of Zululand.

The Eshowe area has been home or base at one time or another to four Zulu kings: Shaka, Mpande, Cetshwayo, and Dinizulu.

Eshowe is inland and set on an elevation, and is cooler than Durban in summer. During the wet season, it is often misty, and is reputed to have the third highest rainfall in South Africa. In at least one year in the past, South Africa awarded Eshowe its most picturesque town award, to which a drive through its suburbs will attest.

While levels of crime affecting tourists is generally safe, caution and sensibility is advised, especially for female travellers.

Get in

By car

Drive up the N2 from Durban, turn left at the Dokodweni Plaza onto Route 66. Carry on straight for roughly 30 kilometres, passing turn-offs to Gingindlovu and Mtunzini. There are two turn-offs to Eshowe, one at the bottom of a large hill (best to take if headed to George hotel) and the second is at the top of the large hill, taken by turning left at the first traffic light encountered. Ask your guesthouse which turn-off is best.

By minibus taxi

Minibus taxis leave/arrive at the main taxi rank in Eshowe. To get to the taxi rank, follow the road that leads off Main Street between the roundabout (outside KFC) and the George Hotel. Minibus taxis leave when full.

To Durban - Cost: R70. The dropoff in Durban is on Umgeni Road and Fynn Street, in front of Durban Station.

To Empangeni - Cost: R30. 1 hour.

To Melmoth - Cost: R20. 45 minutes.

By bus

The Baz Bus stops at Zululand Backpackers and The George Hotel. The fare from Durban is R225.

Greyhound runs bus service to Melmoth, 48.3km from Eshowe. You can take a minibus taxi from Melmoth to Eshowe for R20.

Provincial public buses (2 a day, mornings) also leave from the taxi rank daily. The journey takes around 2 hours.

Get around

It is possible to walk from end to end in the Town Centre (about 20 minutes at a medium pace). The entrance to the boardwalk and visitor centre is a further 25 minute walk away from the Pick n' Pay centre. A car may be easier, but is not essential if you have time on your hands. Taxis can help you visit sights you think may be too far to walk.





Memory Lane Coffee Shop in the Pick n' Pay shopping centre offers meals and an environment frequented by (often retired) locals, where you may get a chance to learn more about the town if you ask nicely enough. Ask to see the coffee shop's copy of an old Zululand Times magazine which provides insight into and experiences from the past. Memory Lane also has a separate ice-cream and milkshake cafe next door.

The Sports Club and the Bowling Club both offer an a-la-carte menu and a pub/bar, and are open for lunch and dinner (relatively formal).

There are standard South African fast food outlets such as Spur, Steers, Debonaires, KFC and Nando's.

Pop-in Cafe, up the hill from Super-Spar walking toward town, offers a selection of popular South African working-man meals, such as samp and beans, curry dishes, Vetkoek and 'Russians'. They have a sit-down section, or you can eat under the tree in the park outside.

To sample the fare enjoyed by locals, head to either of two town centre butcheries, that offer an offstreet barbeque. Hear the sizzle and smell your way there.



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