Richards Bay, South Africa Cruise Port
Within the province of KwaZulu-Natal is the cruise port of Richards Bay, South Africa. Nestled within a harbor of the Mhlatuze River (one of the country’s largest at around 19 square miles), this city of 57,000 residents was originally established in 1879 by Royal Navy officer Frederick Richards, who used it during the Anglo-Zulu War. By 1935, efforts began to protect the ecology of the lagoon, although township was not established until 1969 (and the new harbor took another decade to open). Today, this is a modern and scenic port, surrounded by restaurants and hotels; visitors are often greeted with traditional Zulu dancers and a quay full of handcrafted items, and even more shopping options nearby. It’s also a gateway to the Zululand area, where large game parks and other wildlife can be found in abundance. Here are some of our favorite experiences when cruising to Richards Bay, South Africa:
The Richards Bay Game Reserve is where you can find hippos, crocodiles, monkeys, and fish. Birdwatchers: it's especially important as a bird habitat and houses more than 300 species. Here you can watch wading birds on the tidal flats and swamp wetlands from permanent hides, so as to leave the birds undisturbed.
About six miles from the city center is Pelican Island, a great spot for relaxing or enjoying the beach. Water sport enthusiasts also enjoy everything from canoeing to jet-skiing (equipment rental is available); or for a more slow-paced way to enjoy the scenery, try horseback riding.
To experience traditional life in KwaZulu Natal, visit the DumaZulu Cultural Village. North of Richards Bay, it’s where you can immerse yourself in Zululand’s famous beadwork, basketry, pottery, and weaving. You'll learn how the colors and patterns chosen are more than just decorative, and gain a new appreciation of symbolism made into art.
Not far from the village is the world-renowned Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, the oldest nature reserve in Africa and the only one that contains all five big game animals: lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo and rhinoceros, up close and personal. And since the 1950s, it’s been famous for white rhino conservation efforts.