Valley of a Thousand Hills

As the Rovos Rail African rail tour snakes through the rolling green hills and dipping valleys of the Valley of 1000 Hills, it’s hard to envisage the beautiful landscape as anything else but heaven. In reality, the sweeping landscape set the scene for many bloody battles fought by famed warrior, Shaka Zulu.

The Valley of 1000 Hills derives its name from the endless hills which tumble down to the banks of the Umgeni River, flowing all the way from the distant Drakensberg Mountains to the tepid Indian Ocean. Combining the languid ease of luxurious country living with the ancient, indigenous Zulu culture on its doorstep, the valley has been home to Zulu people for centuries and many continue to live a unique traditional lifestyle.

Past and present intersect in the Valley of 1000 Hills’ rich heritage – from the establishment of the European settlers to the colourful Zulu culture that defines the area’s unique identity. When the Europeans arrived at the Port of Natal in 1825, the Valley of 1000 Hills greeted them as an isolated landscape teeming with game and birdlife. Legend states that WS Field, one of the first Europeans to settle in 1851, used to have leopards spend the night on the veranda of his Field homestead. A few years later saw a wagon route open up between Durban and the interior, as well as the establishment of the railway line linking the goldfields with the bustling port.

Today, leafy suburbs and bustling village centres sit on the crest of the hills overlooking the emerald valley. As the area offers visitors a year-round holiday climate, the villages teem with tourist activity and offer all the creature comforts you would expect from a holiday destination, including spas, accommodation, superlative shopping centres, fine dining restaurants and local arts and crafts unique to the area.

Passengers aboard Rovos Rail’s luxury train journey will notice that the Valley of 1000 Hills is home to an enviable heritage of vegetation and wildlife – this is not by chance. The Valley of 1000 Hills is safeguarded within 15 conservancies which is the highest concentration found anywhere in the Zulu Kingdom and thought by some, the entire country. These generous conservation initiatives offer visitors to the area unique bush lodging from which they can immerse themselves in the unspoiled, natural wonders of the area.

Undoubtedly a nature lover’s paradise, a glimpse of the beautiful Valley of 1000 Hills along with a few breathes of fresh, mountain air is bound to leave an indelible imprint in your memory book.