There are so many reasons to visit KwaZulu Natal, and every time I go back there I find another. Yet, with the exception of the few tour groups and buses that pass between Durban and the historic Zulu and Anglo-Boer battlefields, and a handful of more adventurous travellers, the rest of the Kingdom remains relatively undiscovered.
My latest favourite reason is the Midlands Meander, a quaint little route through green, rolling hills and farmlands just an hour from Durban, to the east of the Drakensburg mountain range and the Kingdom of Lesotho.
In the Midlands, life moves at a gentler pace. The people take time to talk to one another at the trading store and they grow their own vegetables. Take an early morning horse ride or explore forests, farms and small villages and meet their interesting inhabitants. The Meander is an arts and crafts route, with around 150 members who are happy for you to call in and make their acquaintance.
I was particularly moved by the Mandela sculpture at the site where he was arrested on 5th August 1962. The Capture Site was the place from where he disappeared for 27 years and has been turned into a small museum. If you don't mind that a few of the information boards are in the wrong order, it makes an interesting stop to learn more about the life of one of the world's most influential leaders. But the main reason to visit is the sculpture, consisting of 50 ten metre high laser cut steel poles set into the landscape which, as you walk towards them on 'The Long Walk to Freedom' pathway, slowly reveal the face of Mandela, before he disappears from view again...
There are a number of GG classic accommodation listings along the Midlands Meander. At my farm in the delightfully named Dargle Valley, I was welcomed with home-made drop scones, before being whisked up the mountain for sundowners with two other guests, who turned out to be folk singers and serenaded us as the sun dipped down beyond the hills.
I'm noticing a worrying 'food trend' in my blog writing and waistline so I'm going to end with my top tip for brunch, or lunch, or both. I'm not exaggerating when I say that The Farmer's Daughter kitchen actually blew me away. Not only did they expertly make the BEST (and most authentic) flat white coffee I've had in South Africa, but their exciting and inventive menu had me so completely stumped I had to go back three days in a row. An absolute breath of fresh air from the standard toasted sarmie and milk tart offerings of many a 'padstall'.