A busy September is upon us, heralding spring, heritage celebrations, Michaelmas holidays and tourism month.
There is a sense of re-birth after a long winter lockdown, with renewed enthusiasm and cautious optimism for the new season ahead.1000 Hills Community Tourism is offering various activities, destinations and ideas of enjoying spring and appreciating heritage in the hills.
We celebrate heritage month in September – with Heritage Day falling on September 24 – a day which Wiki (our universal oracle of all information) tells us that “South Africans across the spectrum are encouraged to celebrate their culture and the diversity of their beliefs and traditions, in the wider context of a nation that belongs to all of its people.” So it is a good reason to explore a myriad cultural traditions as the Valley of a 1000 Hills is heritage personified – boasting the magnificent backdrop of the ancient rolling hills, with a geographically extensive rural Zulu influence; magnificent natural heritage and interesting historical attractions.
Sometimes the most interesting and worthwhile cultural experiences are the less obvious destinations, off the beaten track. There are plenty such opportunities in 1000 Hills. There are certified trained tour guides many of whom offer bespoke tour-guiding services to facilitate visitors exploring life in the valley and trips to KwaNyuswa, Molweni, KwaNgcolosi and Shongweni to experience tourism destinations, eateries including Shisa Nyama (barbecued meat), meeting a Sangoma and places of cultural and historical interest.
Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust offer memorable and authentic cultural tours hosted by HACT’s Gogo Guides who are waiting to welcome visitors to their families’ rural homesteads.
1000 Hills offer outstanding natural beauty: the Krantzkloof Nature Reserve which offers visitors varied walks and picturesque waterfalls – which will be impressive after the spring rains. There are a number of popular rock climbing sites and self-guided walks (marked with colour coded route markers). The breath-taking scenery is the result of deep incisions into the ancient Kloof plateau by the Molweni and Nkutu Rivers – tributaries of the Umgeni, which in turn flow into the Indian Ocean at Blue Lagoon.
Springside Nature Reserve is the flagship project of the Hillcrest Conservancy which offers self-guided paths; info signs about the trails, flora and fauna, a shady picnic site with a boma, braai stands and benches and an ablution block.
Inanda Dam – a 30ha Msinsi managed park 24 km from Hillcrest. One can visit for the day or stay overnight with 40 camp sites, and four luxury tented accommodation options – all self catering. There are water sports aplenty, braai and jungle gym facilities and ablutions. There is also a nature trail which meanders through 25has of natural bush
Craft and Culture
Wushwini Pan African Centre – run by well known arts entrepreneur Jerry Pooe, has one of the best views – an elevated view of Inanda Dam. Launched in 2011, the centre hosts a theatre space, gallery, educational centre, African cuisine and amphitheatre.
There are many artists, crafters and creatives working and exhibiting in the 1000 Hills. As well as the formal galleries and art hubs such as African Art Centre at AmmaZulu Garden and Sculpture Precinct; Woza Moya at Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust; Embocraft; 1000 Hills Village; Hannah’s Art Gallery, and Khumalo Family Crafters, many 1000 Hills destinations have art and craft on display – such as PheZulu; Shongweni Farmers and Craft Market, Mushroom Farm and Sunset Valley (formerly Heidi’s Farm Stall)
Tourism Month is celebrated in September to highlight South Africa’s diverse tourism offerings, and the sector’s significant contribution to the country’s economy. Inspired by the annual United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), World Tourism Day is celebrated on 27 September. The 2021 UNWTO theme for World Tourism Day Celebrations is: “Tourism for inclusive growth.”
Tourism month celebrations take place against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic – which has had a crippling impact on business. However, the sector has established Health and Safety Protocols in line with global guidelines, to minimise the risk of transmission as well as a robust Recovery Plan to chart the way forward. South Africans are encouraged to travel and explore their country to try and help revive the sector as well as to promote nation-building and social cohesion.
Museum Heritage in the Hills
A useful way of focusing on heritage and history is by visiting one of the museums in the area.
The old station master’s house on the hill above the Inchanga Station has been turned into the Inchanga Railway Museum, a project of the KZN Railway History Society of volunteers. It is open when the Umgeni Steam Railway operates train trips. It houses railway and train memorabilia and artefacts. Of course the Umgeni Steam Railway itself is of enormous heritage value, and its monthly train rides are one of the key attractions in the area.
The Mpumalanga Heritage Museum Centre is a site of memory paying tribute to the political violence which engulfed Mpumalanga from 1983 until 1992.
The 1000 Hills tourism office can provide info on heritage tours and guides.
email@example.com / 031 322 2855
Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust Cultural Tours:
Krantzkloof Nature Reserve: www.kknr.org.za
Springside Reserve: firstname.lastname@example.org / 93 Springside Road, Hillcrest
Inanda Dam: www.msinsi.co.za
Wushwini Pan African Centre: https://www.facebook.com/wushwinipanafricancentre/
Umgeni Steam Railway: http://umgenisteamrailway.com/
Mpumalanga Museum: 031 322 5770 / email@example.com / next to Mpumalanga Library in Unit 6.