Horato Clare, Rebecca Shooter enjoying a break fro
The unspoiled beaches of the iSimangaliso/Greater St Lucia Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal. (Getty)
  • Travellers in the UK should check out KwaZulu-Natal, National Geographic Traveller magazine says, ranking the province as number 13 in it's 2019 "Cool List".
  • A direct Heathrow to Durban flight makes visiting easy, the magazine says, and the beaches and wildlife make it unmissable.
  • Zimbabwe ranks higher on the list, though.
  • The local tourism industry had a tough 2018, but things are starting to look up.

South Africa's "safari hotspot" KwaZulu-Natal is a must-visit destination for 2019, National Geographic magazine has told people in the United Kingdom, lauding its wildlife and beaches – and the chance to learn about Apartheid.

KZN ranks at number 13 on the National Geographic Traveller "Cool List 2019" published this week.

A direct British Airways flight from Heathrow to Durban is a reason to visit KZN now, the magazine said. And though it recommended the beaches, it is the wildlife that is the real drawcard, it said.

"Magical encounters with elephant herds and rescued rhinos in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park can be combined with nature cruises from St Lucia — the coastal town where wild hippos roam the streets."

It also recommended the KwaMuhle museum, in what was once the Native Administration Department in Durban, as a "thought-provoking" way to learn about Apartheid.

At number 13 the province ranks above destinations such as Indonesia and Uganda – but below Zimbabwe at number 9.

With Robert Mugabe gone Zimbabwe is worth a visit, National Geographic Traveller said, and despite ongoing turmoil "the safety of tourists hasn’t come into question".

South African tourism had a tough 2018, and the Western Cape appeared particularly hard hit by its drought and Cape Town's dire Day Zero warnings.

But tour operators and tourism officials are hopeful that 2019 will be a great deal better, especially after draconian visa restrictions for visitors with children were relaxed.

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