The Midlands Meander is an informal route (mainly along the R103 and its side roads) through picturesque scenery in the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains of KwaZulu Natal. Pick up the Midlands Meander map. Which shows various art galleries and unusual craft studios selling beautifully hand-crafted goods, from candles to wood carvings even shoes. Pop in on micro-breweries to sample their finely-crafted beer, or cheese makers and enjoy lunch at one of the charming country pubs, restaurants or delis on the route.
You may like to visit the attractive town of Howick before hand. Howick was named after Viscount Howick, the British Colonial Secretary. Visit the Howick museum or the Howick falls.Where the Umgeni River lunges 110 metres into a spectacular gorge below. (The Howick Falls are not as scenic as they once were and are not always well looked after. Check with the locals about its current state.)
Also close to Howick is the Karkloof Canopy Tour, a series of ziplines through the indigenous trees. See our Drakensberg Canopy Tour description for more information as this is a sister operation in the Karkloof Valley.
Nelson Mandela Capture Site
The Nelson Mandela Capture site is a must! This commemorates the place where Nelson Mandela was arrested on the 5th August 1962. Armed apartheid police flagged down a car in which Nelson Mandela was pretending to be the chauffeur. Having succeeded in evading capture by apartheid operatives for 17 months, Mandela had just paid a clandestine visit to ANC President Chief Albert Luthuli’s home to report back on his activities.
Here is a striking sculpture of metal entitled “Release”. From a distance, it is a piece of abstract art but as you walk towards it, the 50 vertical steel columns line up at this point creating the illusion of a flat two-dimensional image of Nelson Mandela, metaphorically announcing his return after his disappearance from world view (imprisonment for 27 years). Because of the nature of the sculpture, if you just drive past, you don’t see it. You have to stop and walk…
There is also a museum which is an offshoot of its larger sister museum, The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, which is well worth an hour’s visit. It focuses on the legacy of Nelson Mandela.
Tours to the Midlands Meander
If you don’t have a rental car, we can arrange a full day tour to the Midlands meander from Durban. You could visit the Howick Falls, Mandela’s Capture Site with the Apartheid Museum, enjoy the memorable adrenalin rush of the Karkloof canopy zipline tour and spend a happy hour or two meandering along the Arts and Crafts route.