…by The Naked Barista 13/11/2014
We drove into the lush green forest town of Eshowe yesterday afternoon after a bit of a drive from Umdloti and via the site where my husband would start work today.
I have never even heard of Eshowe having lived in South Africa all my life. What a historically quaint little town.
Eshowe is elevated on a hilltop and wraps itself around the Dlinza Forest and this is the magic one experience as it feels as if it could be the soul of Eshowe.
Eshowe has blended itself organically into its environment. The core of the 250-hectare forest is declared a nature reserve. Leafy patches of wildflowers and grassland beautify the town’s pathways and wide roads. Eshowe residents boast with the fact that there is a tree in flower every day of the year.
Visitors can get a bird’s eye view from the Dlinza Forest Aerial Boardwalk. A 125m-walkway starts in the forest understorey and is soon in its leafy canopy, giving visitors a close glimpse of life high above the forest floor. The surrounding countryside can be viewed by climbing a 20m-high viewing tower which emerges above the tall trees. If this is not enough for the avid viewer, there is still the views from Martyrs Cross on the outskirts of Eshowe where a memorial marks the site of Maqamusela Khanyile’s execution in 1877 by King Cetshwayo’s soldiers for converting to Christianity.
Most accessible of the many beautiful Zululand forests is the Dlinza Forest and visited by avid birdwatchers from around the globe. Eshowe hosts annual Birding Weekends and if you have a birders interest and would like to tick off your viewing of the Green Barbet, (the only place in South Africa where it can be spotted), find more details of these sought-after events by getting into contact with the uMlalazi Tourism Office. Rare bird species thrive in this beautiful area such as the Spotted Trush or Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon. Early morning will be the best time to hear the forest echo with the calls of the Trumpeter Hornbills, Narina Trogons and Purple-crested Turacos.
Stay until the day warms and the distinct chorus of the cicada beetles reverberates throughout the forest. If you want to learn more about traditional Zulu medicine, check out the labelled trees describing what their role is. This forest was also home to the magnificent giant Wood’s cycad (Encephalartos woodii) which has been extinct in the wild for more than 100 years.
Eshowe also boasts an 18 hole Golf Course on a beautiful Golf Estate.
The picturesque three-turreted Fort Nongqayi which houses the Zululand Historical Museum was built in 1883 by the British to house the barefoot Zulu police force named the Nongqayi. Their task after the Anglo Zulu War was to enforce British rule.
If it is traditional Zulu culture and craft you’re after, make sure to visit the Vukani Zulu Cultural Museum.
Then there is the Butterfly Dome which showcases the area’s rich diversity of butterflies.
The George Hotel is what we will call home base for the next week. Originally built in 1906 The George Hotel has an old-world charm to it. It offers 25 rooms all equipped with an air conditioner. Tall lush green trees are what you see when looking out of the windows and you hear birds chirping happily.
This charm of a bygone era with beautiful wooden Oregon Pine floors, window panes and doors bewitched us. Obviously, relating to the era, it would have to have a “Jonkmans” cupboard in the corner and a gilded gold-edged mirror. (I felt like playing mirror, mirror on the wall).
The big bed was absolutely the best as we always feel superblessed by a good mattress and clean white linen. The only modern feature of the room was the wall-mounted TV with remote control.
Before we went to have a bite for dinner, we walked through the old hallways of this historic hotel and found to our amazement walls filled with extreme art of nudes. It was remarkable, definitely beautiful in a macabre sort of way.
In the tiny restaurant, we saw that we were the only patrons for the evening. Being ever an opportunist, my husband charmed me by saying that he was responsible for the fact that we had the whole restaurant for our own enjoyment. He could have had me fooled because we settled in and were the only people there for our entire meal. The tiny space feels cosy, with white tablecloths and pretty flowers on every table. There was no Wine list, but the wine was on offer by word of mouth. We really did not know what to expect of the food as the prices were also quite last year. Soon we were pleasantly surprised when we received our orders of delicious steak with a sauce of choice (peri-peri for B and mushroom for me) as well as delectable vegetables consisting of spinach and pumpkin. It was absolutely divine and we can highly recommend it. (Maybe also book it out for a romantic dinner.) wink-wink…
The George Hotel has a pub called the Pablo Esco Bar which we will only be able to visit tonight as it is advertised opening hours Wednesday and Friday as well as Sundays and Public Holidays. I have been told by the townspeople that on Saturday night there will be a live music show. Looking forward to this.
Then the Hotel also has it’s very own brewery, but unfortunately, we could not taste the beer as it is a very small brewery still and the beer would only be ready in fourteen days time. The beer is already well known as Zulu Blonde.
And wait, there is more, as the George Hotel has Conference facilities as well as Wifi.
For me, the Rock, Paper, Scissor Studio was most impressive as it is where crafts workshops are being held and hotel patrons can join in to feel creative.
For breakfast this morning I went across the road to Tally’s Corner Cafe and was pleasantly surprised by the friendly staff and happy atmosphere. Choose to sit in the pretty garden outside or even on a sofa inside. The décor is open and airy and you will love it. I could not resist spending much more time there finding valuable info in the up to date magazines and feeling so at home with good service and happy people all around. The menu was awesome, just as I like it as I ordered some salmon with cream cheese and a boiled egg. A lovely cappuccino to boot. The restrooms as well as the whole interior has a crisp, clean, fresh feel and is just overall very pretty. I can suggest this little marvel as a definite place to have a meal at.
You would be superblessed if you did!