Unlocking KZN’s South Coast for agritourism

With an abundance of agricultural activity, the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast is a prime destination for agritourism, where leisure travel meets in an immersive agri-centred experience.

Unlocking KZN’s South Coast for agritourism
Fresh produce from Ubambano Farm.
Photo: Supplied by SCTIE
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Since its launch in 2022, the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast Agri-culture Tours are fast establishing the South Coast as an attractive agritourism destination offering a host of family-friendly adventures and giving visitors an experience beyond the traditional sites.

The Agri-Tourism Route is one such offering, with the farmlands presenting a chance for outdoor adventure and home-grown tastes.

The Agri-Tourism tour gives visitors a taste of homegrown produce, from bananas and vegetables to coffee, with fun outdoor activities to try including fishing, quad-biking, or simply picnicking, says Phelisa Mangcu, CEO of the South Coast Tourism and Investment Enterprise (SCTIE).

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According to Mangcu, the year-round warm climate and nutrient-rich soil have seen the KZN South Coast’s agriculture sector increase in dominance. “We realised that this area was ripe for further economic opportunities.

Fun and education are both possible at Mac Banana. Photos: Supplied by SCTIE  

As an organisation tasked with unlocking the region’s tourism and investment potential, we worked with our existing farming communities to create an attractive tourism product – the Agri-CULTURE Tours.

Since launching, the tours have already grown in success, with visitors enjoying the diverse activities and unique experience found in our farmlands.”

A new addition

Last month, SCTIE announced another addition to its popular Agri-tourism Route with the inclusion of Secret Sithela.

“We are delighted to welcome Secret Sithela as another valuable addition to our Agri Tourism Route,” says Mangcu.

Some of the produce found at Secret Sithela.

“The KZN South Coast has an abundance of agricultural land that is just waiting to be explored, and visitors will enjoy the beauty and unique farmland attractions of Secret Sithela.”

Situated in Munster, Secret Sithela is a 12ha eco-estate, boasting a 7ha conservancy area, named the Kathleen Kinsey Nature Reserve in tribute to the founder’s mother.

Owned by Rod and Jeanne-Louise Kinsey, the farm features picturesque guest units for overnight stays as well as enchanting gardens that have become a major attraction.

Since 2016, Jeanne-Louise has been cultivating extensive herb, vegetable and indigenous gardens at Secret Sithela.

In just five years, her vision has materialised into a thriving food forest, where guests can now order herbs and salad greens, freshly harvested from the organic garden.

The estate stands as a testament to the Kinseys’ commitment to sustainable living and providing a unique and eco-friendly experience for their visitors.

A place to revitalise and learn

Jeanne-Louise hosts natural farming retreats, including an Earth Harmony Retreat, and the annual Farming Organic Food Festival.

For individuals eager to bring farming skills to their own spaces, there are exciting opportunities such as the Wild Foraging Workshop and the biannual four-day Natural Farming and Introduction to Permaculture Design Course.

The latter is structured around The Perma-culture Manual, authored by John Nzira. It provides a comprehensive guide for those keen on delving into the principles and practices of permaculture design.

Additionally, Jeanne-Louise conducts a hands-on four-day course providing an immersive experience in sustainable food gardening and farming titled ‘Natural Farming Course – An Introduction to Permaculture’.

This course offers participants a practical introduction to permaculture principles, fostering a deeper understanding of sustainable and eco-friendly farming practices.

Participants learn about soil building and amending, seed germinating and seed saving, organic solutions, land contouring, water harvesting, composting, worm farming, vegetable gardens and food forests.

“We are excited to join the SCTIE Agri Tourism route as we believe this will increase our exposure to those tourists and locals who are interested in a nature and climate-friendly holiday experience,” Jeanne-Louise says.

“Secret Sithela is a living natural library, with so much to share about the joys of farming in harmony with nature, and we are passionate about sharing this knowledge with others.

We also hope to bring more exposure to our sister project, Khula Kanyekanye in nearby KwaNzimakwe, consisting of 18 smallholder family food gardeners. We share knowledge, seeds, seedlings, friendship and food.

“We hope to encourage more interest from our visitors in the natural, healthy, earth-conscious lifestyle that we promote.”

Next year they will be looking at introducing shorter, more affordable workshops on all topics related to sustainable, regenerative farming, and lifestyle, she says.

Mangcu says another offering on the agri-route is the well-established BBS Farm in Southport. It is a fully a women-owned operation, and highlights the potential for investment in female entrepreneurs.

Named after its three founders – Busisiwe Lubanya, Bongi Lushaba and Slindile Zondi – BBS Farm was first established as a subsistence enterprise but quickly grew in popularity, with the women finding a niche market within commercial produce.

From left: Bongi Lushaba, Slindile Zondi and Busisiwe Lubanya, founders of BBS Farm.

Commenting on the shift into agritourism, Zondi says the farming environment is the best way to de-stress and get close to nature.

“I would advise women to get into farming and agritourism as this industry plays a massive part in increasing our economy. As women, we need to do our part to empower our country through the economy.”

BBS Farms is not only an international supplier of quality produce, but they also host visitors for farm tours, meals and excellent fishing.

At another agri-destination, Nelly and Nolwazi, sisters from the Zama family, exemplify the significant contributions women make in agritourism, says Mangcu.

Together, they played a pivotal role in founding Ubumbano Farm in Amandawe back in 2017.

What started as a co-operative has evolved into a thriving commercial farming venture and today Ubumbano Farm warmly welcomes tourists eager to explore farming techniques or indulge in the delightful homemade farm-stall goods they offer.

There is a demand for their choice-grade crops, prompting the shift to commercial farming with the addition of a retail sector.

“The smallholding has always been owned by our dad and we all got involved as we grew up,” explains Nelly.

For the love of coffee

For coffee lovers, Mangcu says, the KZN South Coast’s Agri-CULTURE Tours have two incredible offerings – Beaver Creek Coffee Estate in Port Edward and Mpenjati Coffee in Munster.

Spanning three generations, Beaver Creek stands as the southernmost coffee estate on the South Coast, offering an immersive ‘Crop to Cup’ tour and delectable culinary delights.

The estate has also cultivated well-established biking trails through its expansive farmlands. A recent addition to the coffee scene in the region is Mpenjati Coffee, founded by Leigh and Des Wichmann nearly six years ago.

According to Mangcu, the dynamic couple has successfully crafted some of the region’s finest coffee blends, inviting visitors to take part in farm tours and indulge in coffee tastings.

Something for the children too

Children can also benefit from the Agri-culture Tours not only by learning about the various farms and their work, but also by meeting a lively cast of characters at the Animal Farm located at B’s Guesthouse in Harding, she says.

Some of the baby goats with visitors at Mac Banana.

“From emus and rabbits to pigs and chickens, there are plenty of friendly animals eager to make new acquaintances.

“Meanwhile, parents can relish a farm-to-fork fresh meal at the restaurant or unwind with a drink at the bar.

“The farm offers additional attractions, including a fully stocked dam for fishing and an enchanting hike through the vast macadamia trees,” says Mangcu.

For an abundance of agri-edutainment and child-friendly activities, she adds that Mac Banana in Munster in the Ugu District Municipality is the perfect destination.

Here children and parents can learn more about the local produce with an informative tour of a working banana plantation that gives an overview of the entire farming process.

“With over 20 adventures to choose from, kids can indulge in quad-biking, archery, paintball, adventure golf and a rope adventure park featuring an obstacle course and zipline,” says Mangcu.

To top it off, the four on-site restaurants serve delicious food, ensuring a delightful experience for the whole family.

“There are unlimited opportunities for agritourism on the KZN South Coast, with plans for new initiatives already under way,” she says.

For more information on these destinations, visit visitkznsouthcoast.co.za.

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Jyothi Laldas is an accomplished journalist with 15 years of experience in the news media industry. She has established herself as a respected voice in the field, known for her keen insights and passion for storytelling. Jyothi grew up on a farm in rural KwaZulu-Natal, a background that instilled in her a deep appreciation for hard work and the importance of community. Her passion for writing and learning about people has been a driving force throughout her career, enabling her to connect with her audience and bring important stories to light. Jyothi‘s journalistic journey has been marked by her dedication to providing accurate and impactful reporting on a range of topics.