Three intra-Africa airlines connect Johannesburg to Durban and other areas of KwaZulu-Natal province. Africa Tours (800/235-3692 or 631/264-2800; www.africasafaris.com) offers custom air-land charters and can set you up with local guides (including Dingani Mthethwa), arrange charter flights and safaris and book hotels and a car. (Malaria is endemic in the low-lying regions of coastal Zululand and Maputaland; see your doctor for antimalarial drugs at least two weeks before your trip.)
WHERE TO STAY
Simunye Zulu Lodge Eleven basic rooms and five stone-and-thatch huts. DOUBLES FROM $280, INCLUDING ALL MEALS. RTE. 66, 27 MILES PAST ESHOWE; 27-35/450-3111; www.proteahotels.com
Ndumo Wilderness Camp & Lodge Eight large canvas tents, with more than 400 recorded bird species on-site. The neighboring Mathenjwa community receives a share of lodge profits. DOUBLES FROM $500, INCLUDING ALL MEALS. 27-11/884-1458; www.wilderness-safaris.com
Phinda Four lodges—Vlei, Rock, Mountain, and Forest—with chic, spacious suites, and seven ecosystems. Part of the Conservation Corporation Africa chain, with forward-looking community-relations initiatives. DOUBLES FROM $860, INCLUDING ALL MEALS, A GUIDED NATURE WALK, AND TWO GAME DRIVES. 27-35/562-0271; www.ccafrica.com
For a list of ecolodges with community-based programs, check out Conservation Corporation Africa's Web site (www.ccafrica.com).
WHAT TO DO
Shakaland You can stay overnight (doubles from $220), but Shakaland, 100 miles north of Durban, is best visited on a day trip. RTE. 66, 8 MILES PAST ESHOWE; 27-35/460-0912; www.proteahotels.com
Mashu Museum of Ethnology The University of Natal's museum displays Zulu artwork, cultural artifacts, and an extensive beadwork collection. 220 MARRIOTT RD., DURBAN; 27-31/207-3711
The Zulus, by Ian Knight (Osprey Publishing). A short guide to Zulu history.
The Interpretation of Cultures, by Clifford Geertz (Basic Books). A foundational text of cultural anthropology.
The Heart of Redness, by Zakes Mda (Picador). Acclaimed South African writer Mda examines the tensions between traditional beliefs and modern ambitions in post-apartheid South Africa.