Jozini is a small town in the very north east of KZN, situated on the main route into southern Mozambique. The dam gets its water from the Pongola River, meaning “trough” – with its long, deep pools and steep sides, this river is a lifeline for those people and animals who live within its confines.
The town’s biggest attraction is Pongolaland Dam, now known as Lake Jozini, and is immensely popular as a Tiger fishing destination. Hippos and crocs are also a common sight, as are elephants which have recently been returned to the area. Many species of other wildlife such as buffalo, cheetah, zebra and buck roam the plains around the waterside. The reed banks have also attracted a large variety of birds, with more than 350 species recorded.
Cross the border into Swaziland via the remote Cecil Mack’s Pass in the Lebombo Mountains. It is actually officially closed after flooding in 1986 but remains available for those thrill seekers who want to undertake the drive for the sheer hell of it, rather than to get anywhere! You’ll have to access Swaziland on foot though.
When it was first built, the dam’s main aim was to irrigate 80 000 ha of farm land growing crops such as sugar cane, rice and coffee. Farmers are now starting to realise the area’s value as a wildlife hub and are starting to convert the farmland back to the original virgin bush. As such, many visitors compare it to Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe.