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Location: South Africa » Kwazulu Natal » Empangeni

A brief story of what's Empangeni.

Situated in attractive hilly country side, overlooking a flat coastal plain,90 to 150 metres above sea level with panoramic views of Richards Bay and the Indian Ocean from the higher lyiing suburbs.

The Norwegian Missionary Society established a station on the banks of the Mpangeni River in 1851, which was later moved to Eshowe. The river was named after the profusion of Mpange trees (Treema guineensis) growing along its banks, and the settlement that formed around the station took the Anglicised name of the river.

In 1899 a magistracy was established. The Zululand Railway reached the town in 1903. In 1906 Empangeni became a village.


Empangeni Art & Crafts Centre

Variety of arts and crafts made by the local communities.

Empangeni Art & Cultural Museum

A fascinating museum boasting regular temporary exhibitions and a permanent display including Zulu heritage art and the Harrison collection of the pioneer sugar farmers

Game Ranches

Hunting/nature trail facilities and accomodation are offered in the area.

Empangeni Country Club

Tennis, Golf, Bowls, Squash or Conferencing in beautiful natural surroundings.

Enseleni Game Reserve

Meaning "lair of the badger" in Zulu, this 295ha reserve includes mangroves, papyrus and many antelope species as some of it's attractions.

Felix Mill

One of the largest in the country.

Jabulani Crafts

Wonderfully made crafts made by the physically handicapped are for sale.

University of Zululand

The attractive campus of this university, founded in 1959 can be visited

District Municipality: Uthungulu District Municipality

Empangeni Tourism Bureau

Commercial / Union St

Phone number: 035-901-1617
Fax number: 035-792-5196

Established as a mission station by the Norwegian Missionary Society on the banks of the Empangeni River in 1851, Empangeni today is one of Zululand’s largest towns. The town serves a large agricultural and timber growing area and has all modern amenities.


How to get there

Cape Town 1576 km, Durban 172 km, Johannesburg 574 km, Richards Bay 25 km, Vryheid 196 km

Altitude - 90 – 150 m above sea level

Average Rainfall - 1100 mm per year

Average Temperatures – Summer 18,5°c – 28,4°c; Winter 13,2° - 24,5°c

Banks – Absa 3, Fnb 2, Nbs 1, Nedbank, People’s Bank, Saambou, Standard 2

Mountains – South – Ongoye Hills, West Mfuli Mountains, East Ubombo Mountain

Rivers – Empangeni River, Mhlatuzi River, Nseleni River, Tugela River, Umfolozi Black / White


Empangeni Museum

Opened in 1996 in the renovated old Town Hall (1916). Art, Zulu cultural heritage, Harrison Collection on pioneer sugar farmers, exhibitions, workshops, talks and video’s


Enseleni Nature Reserve

Enseleni Nature Reserve was proclaimed on 22 January 1948 and is 293 ha in extent. The reserve consists of coastal grasslands and forest and the Nseleni river provides a freshwater habitat. The reserve is situated north of Empangeni and west of Richards Bay.


No accommodation, caravanning or camping is available in the reserve

What to do on arrival

Visitors who have reserved the activities centre should report to the Officer in Charge at the office. Entrance to the reserve is free and visitors are welcome to enjoy the picnic sites and nature walks.


Facilities Available

Enseleni is a botanical paradise and many hours can be spent exploring the diverse flora. There are two scenic trails which offer visitors the opportunity to experience the different parts of the reserve. The Nkonkoni Trail is 7 km and the Mvubu Trail is 2 km in length. The activities centre is available to educational groups and other interested parties. Bookings are essential. The two picnic sites have braai facilities for the convenience of visitors. A craft market is located in the car park. Giraffe, bushbuck, zebra, reedbuck, nyala, impala, giraffe, blue wildebeest, hippopotamus, crocodile, blue, red and grey duiker, waterbuck and many small mammals species occur in this reserve. African Finfoot, Woollynecked Stork and Fish Eagles nest in the reserve and many other species of birds have been recorded.


No fires are allowed within the reserve except in demarcated braai areas in the picnic sites. It is an offence to disturb, injure, or kill any animal or to pick or remove any flower, plant, rock or archaeological material. Littering is an offence, as is undue noise. In the interest of safety and good conservation practice, do not deviate from the trail paths. No dogs or pets are allowed in the reserve.

How to get there

The reserve is situated north of Empangeni on the N2 freeway. Entrance gate are on both sides of the road. The entrance gates are on both sides of the road. The entrance gate which leads to the office is on the northern side of the road. The nature walks and picnic sites are on the southern side of the road.


Annual Events

Cultural Festival – February

Carnival – 1 May

Zulu Dancing – September


This village 10 km south of Empangeni boasts a sugar mill, reputed to be one of the largest in the country.

Jabulani Crafts

Wonderful handmade craft and ornaments manufactured by physically disabled people.

KwaBhekitunga – Stewart’s Farm

Situated approximately 40 km from Empangeni and offers the visitor a wonderful Zulu cultural experience where Zulu art and culture works can be purchased. Self catering chalets available. KwaBhekitunga was not built as a commercial enterprise. It is a home – a very special home – the tribal home of Mbhangcuza (Thomas) Fakude and his family, an Umuzi (Zulu village) true to Zulu culture and traditions that span centuries. By nature, the Zulus are a polite and sharing people, and Thomas and his family welcome you into their home. Experience first hand the fascinating rituals: the intriguing customs and beliefs that form the fabric of Zulu life. The structure and social order of an Umuzi, traditional dress, regalia, crops and food storage, hut building, and the role of women and children are all explained. While you’ve taking in the ancient lore, quench your thirst by sipping traditional Zulu beer, freshly made by Mazungu Thomas’s wife, from a proper Zulu drinking gourd. Ancestral spirits play an important role in Zulu culture, with the Sangoma holding a revered position in Zulu society. Awe struck, you will witness the mystery of generations – old mystical practices as the Sangoma demonstrates her ability, so close you can reach out and touch her. To celebrate your visit to Umuzi, the women will create an elaborate meal of six succulent traditional dishes – prepared the Zulu way, served with fresh fruit and washed down with your choice of more Zulu beer. Wine and soft drinks are also served. Dave and Wendy Rosenhahn, who have been working with Zulu families in the area for years, personally accompany all tours which are conducted by prior bookings only. Each visiting group has exclusive use of the facilities. In this way specialized language groups, as well as Kosher, disabled tourists or educational groups are easily accommodated.

The Rest Camp

Overnight accommodation is available in traditional Zulu ‘beechive’ huts, fitted with electricity, showers and toilets en suite for your comfort. Catering, licensed bar and swimming pool facilities complement the relaxed and informal environment, with hiking trails offering game viewing as well as prolific birdlife.

Phobane Handcrafts

The Fakude family, together with other Zulu families living in the area, earn their living from making and marketing traditional Zulu handcrafts. Basketware, carvings, intricate Zulu beadwork, tanned game skins and traditional weapons are all on display and can be purchased from the handcraft centre at wholesale prices. Visitors are encouraged to browse around the centre and watch these people practicing their art.

Mfuli Game Ranch

A small game ranch boasting self catering chalets, game and snake park and a fully licensed restaurant.

Nyala Game Ranch

This game ranch has excellent facilities for hunting, game viewing and educational conservation courses.

Richards Bay Air Carriers

Based at Empangeni airfield they are a registered flying school. They do charter flights and flips on request.



Cycling, fishing, canoeing, game viewing, hiking trails, hunting, show jumping, skydiving, spearfishing, speedboat racing, yachting.

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