Focus on the Midlands Meander, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa

An experience to change your life...and your lifestyle...

Welcome, or welcome back, to the Midlands Meander. The famous Midlands Meander in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, is a unique mix of more than 160 places to eat, drink, sleep, shop, play and generally have fun.

Started many years ago as a voluntary collection of crafters, who wondered if they could attract visitors to leave the beaten track and explore their studios and galleries, the Midlands Meander has grown into an eclectic and fascinating mix of arts and crafts, world-class restaurants and homely comforts, with a wide range of sporting, environmental and historical pursuits thrown in too. Physical, culinary or cerebral, there is no limit to the experiences you’ll find here.

The many facets of the Midlands Meander are so varied that there is little chance of boredom. Each route through this lovely land offers new mysteries to explore, new places to discover. From the silvery vastness of the waters of the Midmar Dam to tiny crystal streams, from the imposing bulk of the Drakensberg mountains to the green of the indigenous forests, from quiet country towns to patchwork fields, where cattle graze or bales of hay are bundled in white plastic covers like huge cheeses, this is a land of many faces, all beautiful.

And the seasons change the features of the Midlands throughout the year, so there are many more faces to the places that keep calling you back for more. Cool mists melt away to reveal shimmering midday sun; thunderstorms crackle over the ‘berg and then bluster away into soft summer showers that refresh thick pastures. Golden and burgundy leaves dazzle in autumn and settle into thick toffee- coloured drifts that rustle at your feet. And in winter, the icy chill of a true winter experience unlike any African season comes calling, often blanketing the distant hills with white, and occasionally throwing a silky snow cover over the fields and valleys too.

The Midlands Meander, the first route of its kind in the country, has opened up the wonders and beauty of the interior of KwaZulu-Natal to visitors from distant cities, distant countries. Many return again and again, finding new delights each time they visit, many making friends, and some, perhaps the luckiest, finally staying, unable to tear themselves away.

So put away your watch, switch off the cellphone. Pack a bag or two, leaving space for inevitable new acquisitions, and escape. There is a life away from the fast lane of the highway, the boardroom, the committee meetings, the tunnels of the malls. Experience the wonder of the Midlands Meander. Discover the people, the beauty, the tastes, and above all, the time. You’ll discover a new way of life, a new set of priorities. And you’ll experience the country at its best.

Protecting the rare and precious - The Midlands Meander

The Midlands Meander Association comprises a voluntary group of like-minded people who share a vision of how we would like you to share our experiences of the Midlands. We value any constructive feedback and suggestions.

To highlight the unique and special relationship we have with our world and each other, we have chosen as our logo the rare and lovely butterfly known as the Karkloof Blue or Orachrysops ariadne. Found only in a tiny area within the Karkloof forest (now protected as a Natural Heritage Site), the Karkloof Blue has a highly sensitive relationship with a type of sugar ant (Camponotus natalensis), that carries the newly hatched caterpillars to and from the special food source they require, only taking the caterpillars out of their nest if it is safe.

This unique and strange relationship is just one of the natural wonders of our region, and the beauty of this delicate butterfly, endemic to the Midlands, makes it the perfect symbol for the Midlands Meander. We indicate that members are true, ‘hands-on’ artists and crafters by showing this symbol next to their entry in this guide. Not all outlets that you come across in your Midlands travels are members of the Midlands Meander and so are not included in this guide.