The Inanda Heritage Route is undoubtedly one of Durban’s most precious hidden gems. Many know of the area’s fascinating historical sites that are part of South Africa’s liberation history, but there are many other attractions which enable visitors to make an intriguing connection with the people of Inanda.
The vibrant, pulsating semi-urban community is sprawled across the gentle folds of hundreds of green hills and valleys. Inanda’s wide variety of community facilities, religious places, arts, crafts, culture, entertainment and eating and drinking places provide a wide variety of attractions.
The areas to the north and the west are more rural as the settlements thin out into clusters of ‘rondavel’ homesteads which extend up the slopes of the mountains surrounding Inanda Dam.
Every visitor to Durban and KwaZululand-Natal should visit the Inanda Heritage Route, if only for the proud legacy left to South Africa by this area.
In the latter years of the 19th century and in the early years of the 20th century, the Inanda Heritage Route was home to three extraordinary men and one women from vastly different backgrounds. They were Mahatma Gandhi, a world icon of peaceful resistance; the first ANC president John Langalibalele Dube, who was also a religious minister and founder of an industrial school and newspaper; the Prophet Isaiah Shembe, founder of the four million-member Shembe Church which is based in the valley, and American Mary Edwards, first principal of the 146-year-old Inanda Seminary.
The influence which the four had on South African and international history leadership – in terms of peaceful resistance, liberation, religion, education, art and culture – was remarkable.
Perhaps the greatest testimony to the importance of the Inanda Heritage Route is that Nelson Mandela chose to vote here, at the Ohlange Institute, in South Africa’s historic first democratic elections of 1994. Mandla Nxumalo, who was there on the day to meet him, is still the local tour guide who will tell you Mandela’ story and the history of the area with insight and passion. And at the lovingly restored Gandhi Settlement and Inanda Seminary, knowledgeable local tour guides Bongani Mthembu and Ayanda Ngcobo will also bring to life the history of those institutions.
The history of the area is a tantalising introduction to what Inanda and neighbouring KwaMashu and Ntuzuma offer visitors. There are exciting places where you can eat, drink, sleep and interact with the locals, visit performing arts and craft projects, watch artists and crafters at work or pick up creative tips.
There are several guided walks through a neighbourhoods or along the Inanda Dam. There is the opportunity to canoe on the dam or mountain bike around it and, in the process, run shoulders with a modern Zulu community and make friends with the people.
The logical starting point for any visitor to Inanda is the WOWZULU Marketplace at the Ohlange Institute, ‘a home in the Inanda Valley’. Here, visitors are welcomed by the WOWZULU team of hosts and story-tellers who will tell you about the area and offer directions and advice. Coffee, snacks and crafts are also on sale.
There is no ideal time to come to Durban, it is a city full of wonder and open to exploration at any time of year. Note that the domestic holiday season gets very busy from December – January and accommodation may be hard to find. But let us custom make your trip and source out of the way, special places to stay where you can meet real people and engage with local people.
Durban truly is the warmest place to be. Our climate is mild in winter and warm and humid in summer.
Temperatures in winter range from 17 to 25 degrees Celsius and in summer from 20 – 33 degrees Celsius.
This is a summer rainfall patter area, so be prepared for sunny, warm winter’s days and sultry summer nights.
WHICH ACCOMMODATION BEST SUITS YOU
Accommodation offers range from 5 star hotels to boutique lodges to cosy bed and breakfasts and the ultimate in authentic experiences, the homestay.
Let us find the best welcome for you in the city we call home.
THIS MONTH’S RECOMMENDATIONS
This month we recommend you get to know some of our favourite people and stay with Ma Mtshali on the very edge of the Inanda route. This perfectly placed rural homestead offers the warmest welcome and an experience like no other. Wake to the sounds of goats bleating, the wind whispering through the corn patch and a rooster crowing. Know that you are experiencing life in a traditional homestead with few modern amenities (no wifi but a comfy bed and a welcome home).
Ma Mtshali, a master craftswoman, and her family will feed you and share their home, lives and experiences with you. feel free to bring something to add to the dinner, and share your own home grown customs.
THE INANDA MARKETPLACE
The Inanda Marketplace will welcome you with fantastic stories that take you through the rich history of this place. Regaling you with tales of fact and fiction, of history and fantasy. A reminder that this is the birthplace of our democracy, a cornerstone in our path to freedom. It is also a place of rich biodiversity, strong urban culture and wide open spaces. So many contradictions encapsulated in a vibrant and colourful space.
Ohlange Institute: Cradle of our DemocracyR1.00
Guided Urban Walk in OhlangeR1.00
Lunch in Style at Fashion CafeR1.00