Port Shepstone is a popular holiday destination on the South Coast of KwaZulu Natal. It is also an important commercial, administrative and educational hub for the region, which includes smaller beach towns and resorts like Shelly Beach, Margate and Ramsgate.
The town was established in 1867 at the mouth of the Mzimkulu River after the discovery of marble. Surprisingly perhaps, it was a small group of Norwegian immigrants which played a strong role in the town's subsequent development.
During its life, the town has seen a harbour, which fell into disuse, and a railway station which was also superseded by transport links deemed more modern and efficient. Today there is little evidence of the harbour as the river silted up making it impossible to use, but the old cast-iron light house still stands proudly on the coast.
If you are interested in Port Shepstone's history, there is a quaint museum whose displays follow a decidedly maritime theme, but which does cast a light on some aspects of the settlement's history.
Like other South Coast towns, Port Shepstone experiences a subtropical climate with warm, humid summers and dry, but still warm, winters and offers a great experience for sun-worshipers and beach bums. The Indian Ocean is warm and activities like swimming, fishing and snorkelling are commonly practised.
The river mouth provides endless opportunity for engaging in water-sports like water-skiing and wind surfing. You can also paddle a canoe down the river or take a relaxing boat ride to observe the birdlife.
A little upstream, the Mzimkulu River is partly responsible for the carving of the Oribi Gorge, consistently rated as one of the biggest canyons in the world. Just up the road from Port Shepstone this spectacular sight offers hikes, look-out points and the chance to spot yet more birds and rejoice in the sounds of nature, from antelope snapping twigs as they move through the bush to monkeys squealing. You can also attempt the world's highest commercial abseil here.
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