There are well paved roads and there are beaten paths or as my Scots granny used to tell me “there is a high road and a low road”. I could never decide which was the better to travel. The high road might be the one with the most expansive views, the freshest air or bluest sky but then again that view could be hidden by a huge lumbering bus or worse still, a stream of traffic or perhaps it’s so high that it’s hidden in mist. Perhaps I should travel the low road and discover the nooks and crannies, streams and grottos, wild flowers and grasses along that way. On the other hand, that road could be full of potholes and muddy patches or could actually be the fastest route between places ensuring a veritable river of roaring traffic which would never allow for meandering and discovery!
Instead I’ve decided which ever road you pick should be the one less traveled and that is definitely one of the delights of foreign travel. It’s finding the route that is off the well-beaten tourist pathway. The one that may instead be a favorite of the locals. The one they would almost like to keep a secret excepting they know it is too good to withhold and so they share it with a kind of sly pride as if admitting you to an exclusive club.
That is exactly what I found in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands when I visited South Africa recently. An area not quite in the majestic Drakensberg mountains and yet not down on the golden and green coastal plain. Midway – the middle lands between these regions. An area of lush and fertile farmlands, national parks, of history and creativity. Many a bloody battle was fought on and over these lands. Battles between English and Boer, between Zulu and English and Boer and Zulu. There are riveting Battlefield Tours fully narrated and led by knowledgeable guides who are passionate about their subject. There are cottage industries, artists and craftsman scattered all over this area and all tied together by a unique and fascinating concept called the Midlands Meander. The little villages of Howick and Hilton stand at the gateway and it is from here that this venture down the road less traveled begins.