Maputaland, South Africa Travel Guide

Named after the Maputa River, which flows through southern Mozambique, Maputaland covers an area of 9000 sq km stretching north from Lake St Lucia to the Mozambique border and east from the Indian Ocean to the Lebombo Mountains. One of South Africa's least developed regions, Maputaland has preserved a traditional African atmosphere. The land is unsuitable for intensive modern agriculture, and small farmsteads and fishing communities dot the landscape.

The climate varies from being tropical in the north to subtropical in the south, and this has created a fascinatingly diverse range of ecosystems, from the forested Lebombo Mountains at 700 m to the low-lying expanses of the coastal plain. Maputaland's features include Lake Sibaya - South Africa's largest freshwater lake - as well as mangrove swamps, coral reefs, dune forest, riverine forest and savannah. And seeing Maputaland's last wild elephants from a Land Rover in Tembe or diving on the reefs at Sodwana Bay are among South Africa's ultimate wilderness experiences.

Getting to Maputaland

Maputaland is well connected by road on the N2 highway. By car it is only a three-hour drive from Durban or six hours from Johannesburg. Leave the N2 at the Hluhluwe exit, and follow the Lower Mkuzi Road (R22), which runs along the southern boundary of Mkhuze Game Reserve and passes a number of luxury private game lodges. This tarred road continues on to Mbazwana and Sodwana Bay (90 km) , and then on to Kosi Bay and the border with Mozambique at Ponta Do Ouro. .

From Mkhuze there is a dirt road heading south parallel to the N2 which leads to the turning to Mkhuze Game Reserve (20 km). There is also an alternative northern route on dirt roads from Mkhuze to Sodwana Bay (120 km), passing through Ubombo, Tshongwe and Mbazwana. The drive to Mkhuze passes through sisal plantations before entering a beautiful rustic area. The road winds through gently rounded hills dotted with aloes and acacias. Donkeys and cows graze on the meadows at the side of the road and wander
about freely. The road is in good condition but after rain it is crossed by numerous streams.
Mkhuze has a supermarket, bank and petrol station.

A further 10 km along the N2 from Mkhuze is the exit for
Jozini
(the N2 continues north towards Lavumisa, 40 km, on the frontier with Swaziland). Jozini is the last place of any size before the reserves in northern Maputaland; it is a good idea to fill up on petrol and buy any last minute supplies while you are here. The tarred road east from Jozini crosses
the Lebombo Mountains and the Maputaland coastal plain and is an alternative to the R22
if you are coming from the north.

Passengers using the
Baz Bus
, www.bazbus.com, are dropped off and picked up at the
Ghost Mountain Inn.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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