The Naked Barista… 19/11/2014 Alexia
Mtunzini – Zululand…
Arriving yesterday from Eshowe and still en route 66…
A place in the shade, this is the meaning of the Zulu word Emthunzini.
In the history of this magnificent coastal town it refers to the specific place where John Dunn would meet with the tribal elders of the area. He was well known as the white Zulu chief and would meet with the tribal elders and have discussions under the coastal milkwood trees near the Umlalazi River.
A little or maybe a lot more about John Dunn – The White Chief of Zululand:
He became one of the richest and most powerful chiefs in the kingdom through his trading of Ivory and guns and his activities spanned three crucial decades in the 19th century history of Zululand.
Legendary as hunter, trader and white chief of King Cetshwayo, no other person embodied the turbulent times in which they lived. Through his friendship with King Cetshwayo, he acquired large tracts of farmland between uThukela River and Mtunzini.
Mtunzini – and especially the lagoon – held a special place in his life. At the site of the present Indaba Campsite, an area under the large milkwood tree were cleared and used to conduct court hearings as well as being a venue for family celebrations such as harvest festivals and weddings. I can imagine they needed quite some space as he married 48 Zulu brides and had 117 children and with that absolutely securing his place in Zululand as well as in history. When he sided with the British during the Anglo Boer War, his friendship with King Cetshwayo ended.
Crocodiles and Hippo’s were regularly found in the river then, so Dunn dug a pool on the banks of the uMlalazi River to provide safe bathing for his very large family. Present day it is marked as Dunn’s Pool.
This is one of the only towns we have visited where the whole town was declared a Conservancy in 1995 and has also been awarded for it’s commitment to the preservation of its natural heritage.
How much of a Conservancy: We are so excited to have encountered another first for us… ‘The Zebra Saga’ is in full swing between locals as it is common for Zebra’s to be seen walking around town. WHO’Z (Wild Heritage Organisation Zululand) is seeking to obtain a permit for having the Zebras, Impalas and other small game roam the streets of town. While not everybody is in unison about this, Mtunzini does sport an annual Zini Zebra Festival. Check!
I have not told you yet where we are staying…
There are so much accommodation available in Mtunzini, so when I was having breakfast yesterday in Eshowe, I decided to sent an sms to a few establishments with our requirements.
For any foreigners, this valuable information can be acquired on….
Lady Sorka with her beautiful eyes, has been a local here all her life and it is her “Aquaberry Den“, comfortable fully
equipped self-catering one bedroomed apartment with own entrance we chose. Being on the second floor, we again are situated high in the trees and we can enjoy the beautiful bird life to the full.
Another first for us, was to be able to do a “boardwalk” walk stepping right into a Mangrove forest.
Bethesda kept telling me about coming to visit this place as a little boy. He told me about the huge crabs in the sand and I was looking forward to seeiing this as everything is bigger and much more ominous when we are children.
He started showing me many holes in the sand and I must agree that when I saw the crabs, I understood how he felt, as they were everywhere and pretty big with huge red claws. Also back then there were no boardwalk to elevate a person to walk above them.
Birdwatchers will also love what Mtunzini have on offer as it is home to over 300 species of birds including the rare Palmnut Vulture.
The Palmnut Vulture is South Africa’s largest breeding bird of prey. A grove of raphia palms beside the railway line is one of the few declared natural monuments in the country and this will be the best place to spot them.
Being one of only six palm species indigenous to South Africa, it was introduced to Mtunzini about 100 years ago from the swamp forests adjoining Kosi Bay lakes.
Its leaves are amongst the largest in the plant kingdom and it can grow to a height of 25m in about 25 years. The fruits are an essential part of the Palmnut Vulture’s diet, being rich in oils and starch.
I found some written pages, which appears to be a very interesting read to bird lovers. The pages albeit well worn and very faded, has so much info about the Palmnut Vulture. I could make out the Author’s – Hugh Chittenden and Nico Myburgh – and I am sure that this will be a great read – “Vultures in the Village”.
Mtunzini hosts annual birding weekends with the chance to observe the Green Barbet, found only at Ongoye Forest outside Mtunzini. The Umlalazi Nature Reserve (1028 hectares) also offers a network of trails for exploration, and here the Mangrove Kingfisher may show itself.
Another World Famous event which has been wildly photographed and recorded is the winter butterfly migration.
Mtunzini is well known for fishing in a variety of forms since generously-sized fish such as Grunter, Salmon, Rock Salmon / River Snapper and Rock Cod may take the line. Ski-boats can launch from Mlalazi lagoon and in the summer months Dorado, Kingfish, Barracuda, Yellowtail Tuna and other species have been caught.
Mtunzini – or the Village, as the locals often refer to it, boasts with a clean, safe and abundant environment and with it’s vantage point atop a hill boasts a stunning outlook over the Umlalazi Nature Reserve and the sea.
Blessed with a sub-tropical climate (humid summers and mild winters) and a high annual rainfall, this exactly sums up the feel you get when you visit Mtunzini – definitely:
“A place in the shade”
Superblessed to have spend some time here…
…living our life…
with so much Gratitude!