Pietermaritzburg is a small city located approximately 80 kilometres from Durban in KwaZulu Natal. Accommodation in Pietermaritzburg is therefore convenient as well as pretty. The town is known as ‘the last outpost of the British empire’ and this is evidenced in the pretty architecture dotted around town. Maritzburg, as it’s affectionately known, is regionally important as it produces aluminium, timber and dairy. It is also the home of the annual Dusi Canoe Marathon and every second year provides the start line for the Comrades Marathon.
From a tourist’s perspective, Pietermaritzburg is a great place to park off. It has a mild climate, with summer rainfall and cool, dry winters. It is the gateway to the Natal Midlands and as such is surrounded by forested hills and rolling countryside.
Pietermaritzburg’s main attraction is its position. Its proximity to Durban makes it a convenient while the midlands provide endless opportunities to lose yourself in holiday mode. The Midlands Meander, a dedicated tourist route, is the most notable attraction in the region. It was the first of its kind in South Africa and can still be touted as one of SA’s best arts and crafts routes.
Covering 80 kilometres in total, the Midlands Meander takes one through numerous quaint towns close to Pietermaritzburg and gives visitors the opportunity to pop into the studios and little shops of metalworkers, weavers, potters and many more. Furthermore, there is more than one highly acclaimed restaurant in the region!
Activities in and around Pietermaritzburg include The African Bird of Prey Sanctuary – a conservation effort to rehabilitate and/or breed some of the area’s rare raptor species, the Tatham Art Gallery, Butterflies for Africa – where guests can enter the enclosed ‘garden’ and view a boggling array of brightly-coloured butterflies and for Comrades runners, a visit to the ‘Comrades House’ museum not only serves as an example of a preserved architectural style, but provides an interesting history of the race.
For the more adventurous, there is lots of hiking and mountain-biking to be had in the surrounding hills and canopy tours are offered at the Karkloof Indigenous Forest (the 2nd largest indigenous forest in South Africa). The Midmar Dam is a prime spot for water sports as well as fishing and picnicking.
Accommodation in Pietermaritzburg is comfy, often quaint and as you can see, with so much to do you are unlikely to get bored easily!