What to see and do
The warm Indian Ocean beaches are ideal for swimming, surfing, yatching, kayaking and most other water sports.
Alkantstrand and Newark Beaches are protected by shark-nets and lifeguards. Facilities include picnic spots and a kiosk. There is Tuzi Gazi Waterfront.
- Dolphin Viewing Platform
- Enseleni Nature Reserve
- Lake Mzingazi
- Dayspring Farmyard
- Umfolozi Bird Park
Richards Bay arguable rates as one of the BEST URBAN birding experiences in the country. With a wide variety of areas to visit, affordable local guides, bird hides and boardwalks, Richards Bay offers amazing opportunities to get out and enjoy what nature has to offer!
Over 350 species occur in the immediate Richards Bay area; 73% of South Africa's red data book species and 24 National Rarities have been recorded from the Richards Bay area.
Within Richards Bay is the Thulasihleka Pan, probably the most reliable site for spotting Lesser Jacanas in South Africa as well as enough variety of water birds to keep you busy for most of the morning, including huge flocks of pelicans, Spoonbills and unusual species such as Baillon's Crake, African Marsh Harrier and Brown-Throated Weaver. There is also an excellent network of walking trails and hides at the pan that are a must for any birder or outdoor enthusiast in the area. Guided walks are offered.
The Swamp Forest areas adjacent to Lake Mzingazi are excellent stakeouts for species such as Green Malkoha, Fudd's Apalis, Black-throated Wattle Eye and Livingstone's Turaco.
The Southern Sanctuary (Important Bird Area SA079) and Harbour area have also long been hotspots for rarities in South Africa such as Crab Plover and Broadbilled Sandpiper. According to leading ornithologist Dave Allen, from the Natural History Museum in Durban, this is some of the best "water birding" in southern Africa.
Less than an hour's drive form Richards Bay is South Africa's most exciting forest birding area - Ongoye Forest with its Green Barbet, Eastern Bronze Naped Pigeons, Green Twinspots, Brown Robin, Yellow-Streaked Greenbuls as well as its host of endemic plants. Then there is Dlinza Forest and the aerial boardwalk, Spotted Thrush country of note! Nseleni Nature Reserve is also a beautiful little reserve where boat trips can be arranged to see Whitebacked Night Heron and African Finfoot. Mtunzini is also only a short drive away and host Palmnut Vulture and in winter months Mangrove Kingfisher as well as many coastal forest species.
Lake Pobane (Goedetrou Dam), between Richards Bay and Eshowe, is an excellent haunt for Whitebacked Night Herons, African Finfoot, Half-collared Kingfisher and good bushveld birds such as Gorgeous Bush Shike.
A KZN Wildlife private Reserve +-120 Km form Richards Bay. Activities include ski boating, hiking,
swimming and surf fishing.
Thula Thula Game Reserve
An exclusive private Game Reserve and Safari Lodge, a mere 20 minute's drive from Empangeni, offers an abundance of wildlife, including elephant, rhino and leopard, fine bird watching and superb cuisine.
Arts & Culture
Empangeni Art And Cultural History Museum
Non-profit gallery with a permanent collection and rotating exhibitions. The Empangeni Museum, housed in the old Town Hall (1916) offers a look at the history of the sugar pioneers who forged the path for development in the town with the opening of the Zululand Sugar Mill in 1911. Extensively renovated in 1995 it was reopened as a museum in April 1996. It houses a representative collection of contemporary art from KwaZulu-Natal including works by Andrew Verster, Trevor Makoba, Dennis Purvis, Andries Botha, Gert Swart, Raphael Magwaza, Diamond Bozas, Bonnie Ntshali and Nesta Nala. Other exhibits include Zulu cultural and contemporary art displays.
The museum is open Tuesday to Fridays from 09h00 to 16h00 and on Saturdays from 09h00 to 12h00. Entry is R1,00 for adults and 50 cents for children. Visitors can also enjoy a meal at the adjacent Around Africa Restaurant. A monthly fresh produce and craft market is held at this centre.
Empangeni Arts and Crafts Centre
The Arts and Crafts Centre is a community upliftment project that allows visitors to witness first hand the making of authentic Zulu and other crafts, taste traditional Zulu cuisine and purchase charming Zulu and other mementos. These include traditional beadwork, basket weaving, wood sculpture, and fine art as well as tasty homemade treats.
- Kwabhekithunga located at Stewarts Farm at Eshowe
- Shakaland located at Eshowe
Empangeni overlooks a coastal plain with rolling hills of sugar cane. The local country club has an 18-hole golf course.