About Pietermaritzburg and Midlands
Pietermaritzburg, set amidst forested hills and the rolling countryside of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, is one of the best-preserved Victorian cities in the world. Visits by the likes of Gandhi, Mandela and Queen Elizabeth, the Comrades and Dusi Marathons as well as its museums, art galleries, quaint antique shops, markets and a special style of country living are some of the things that make the Pietermaritzburg and Midlands region of South Africa famous. The Midlands landscape is green and softly wavy, dominated by pastures and pine forests, dotted with a myriad of waterfalls, lakes, dams, and Zulu villages. This region offers an eclectic and fascinating mix of arts and crafts, world-class restaurants and homely comforts, with a wide range of adventurous, natural and historical pursuits.
The charming city of Pietermaritzburg is the capital and second largest city in KwaZulu-Natal and is the administrative capital of the province. It is conveniently situated approximately 80km inland from the city of Durban and is an easy 40 minute drive from Durban en-route to Johannesburg. Pietermaritzburg offers a number of venues ranging from small venues with boardroom facilities to larger conference venues and educational facilities. Being a contemporary African city that is steeped in history and speaks of Zulu, Boer, British and Indian influences, the city is a cultural treasure trove brimming with diversity and colour, and offers various cultural activities that lend themselves to being incorporated into a conference programme. Take in fifty provincial heritage sites on a walk through the city’s historical centre and enjoy the architecture and history of the town. One of the highlights of the town is the City Hall, built in 1893. It is reputed to be one of the largest all-brick buildings in the southern hemisphere. The organ housed here is huge and is still used for recitals and concert recordings.
Pietermaritzburg and its surroundings offer a veritable feast of present-day experiences and is the town in which the annual Dusi Canoe Marathon starts, and is the beginning or ending point of the world-renowned annual Comrades Marathon between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, which attracts about 20 000 participants. Alexandra Park is the venue for Art in the Park, a large outdoor art exhibition, and Cars in the Park, a popular gathering of vintage cars.
The Midlands offer excellent hotels, guest houses and country lodges, restaurants and tea-gardens as well as some of the finest adventure, relaxation, authentic experiences and shopping in South Africa, not to mention some spectacular meetings and events venues - many of the accommodation facilities of this region have ideal venues for small to medium sized meetings. The Midlands Meander route which runs mainly between Howick and Nottingham Road is a delightful shopping and browsing side-trip, including numerous antique shops, art galleries and arts and crafts studios with the potential of turning every visit into a truly memorable experience. Many venues offer onsite accommodation and banqueting facilities. Looking for a day spa, destination spa or health spa? Incentive visitors will be spoilt for choice as the Midlands offers some of the fi nest spas South Africa has to offer, providing sophisticated spa seekers with an enviable range of treatments and rituals using the world’s favourite spa products alongside traditional African treatments.
If it’s an adrenaline-charged adventure you want, Pietermaritzburg and the Midlands is the place to be. The city and surrounds offer thrills on land, water and in the air. For teambuilding, the Karkloof Canopy Tours is very popular but so is the fi shing, with some of the best trout fishing waters in South Africa found in the Midlands. The forests and hills offer memorable mountain biking and 4x4 trails or abseil the 107m drop down the Howick Falls. Get wet as you go tubing or kayaking down the Dusi River or white water rafting on the magnifi cent Umkomaas River, said to be second only to the mighty Zambezi. For a birds-eye view of the area try a flip in a fixed-wing aircraft from Pietermaritzburg Airport; go paragliding, microlighting or gliding; experience the rush of parachuting or sky diving.
This region has much to offer the conference delegateor incentive visitor - cultural experiences, adrenalin pumping activities and sublime spas to absolutely memorable moments.