Curating Unique Experiences

The Midlands MagazineJanuary 5, 2023

A platform that boasts countryside beauty while supporting its community members. For locals or tourists, there will be something worth exploring. 


Our official launch in February 2022 was held at the Nelson Mandela Capture Site. The cocktail evening boasted an amazing local marimba and jazz band, sponsored wines from Highgate Wine Estate and food from N’Squared bakery were the treats whilst the local tour guides explained the values of uMngeni Tourism to the guests.


Experiences matter. Who we share those experiences with and where we make them happen can make each unique experience more memorable. It is these memorable experiences that our partners want to offer to locals and visitors.


uMngeni Tourism’s goal is for every stakeholder in the region, no matter if you own a large tourism business or sell crafts to tourists on the side of the road, to be represented by them. They will strive to be your voice. This in turn will highlight all that the region has to offer. 


uMngeni makes up Nottingham Road and ends in Winterskloof in Hilton, stretching from Karkloof to Dargle and eMpophomeni. Our beautiful region encompasses the photo-perfect landscapes of rolling hills, forests, waterfalls, dams and deep history. The place we call home is inhabited by farmers, artisans, artists and craft beer brewers. This community offers an array of accommodation options set in idyllic locations and a selection of wedding venues for that very special day. 


It is within this environment that uMngeni Tourism was born. This addresses the need for a private, sector-driven and community-based tourism organisation with explicit autonomy and independence from any sphere of government. Our Community Tourism Organisation (CTO) was reshaped for a fresh, engaging, energetic Midlands community. No matter your age, race, income, the time of the year or the season. Whatever your style, this community is a canvas waiting for you to experience. 


uMngeni Tourism was launched with that vision in mind. A vision that celebrates the beauty and uplifts the communities. The ethos is structured around uniting and empowering tourism product holders whilst providing visitors access to an incredibly diverse and exciting South African country experience. 


There is so much to experience within our region. This is perfect for satisfying all our different tastes, interests and activities. You might have children of a certain age and be able to take a stroll or watch the bird life by the picnic spot at the Karkloof Falls. We even cater to adrenaline junkies, local history enthusiasts, and keen restaurateurs. If you are unsatisfied, you can visit one of the many authentic and unique galleries or artisans’ workshops. 


Through innovative technology, they have curated specific routes suited for you. Tourists no longer have to go on routes or experiences with stops that do not interest them. 


Our quick and fun personality test will tell you if you are an “Upbeat Burner” – someone who is a mover and shaker but not scared of kicking it back sometimes. Places like Rawdons Hotel Brewery or the Umngeni Nature Reserve might interest you. You may instead be an “Easy Rider” – you play it smooth but still like a bit of space between your travels. Destinations like the Karkloof falls, the Old Mushroom farm and Indezi River Creamery would be your style. Other curated routes include the “Adventurer ”, ” Groovy Mover”, and “Slow Traveler” – should other travelling experiences suit your style. 


You can refine your experiences even more to include different niche experiences, events, individual tourism nodes, types of travel (budget, luxury or a combination) and experiences, including which facilities and amenities are on offer. 


uMngeni Tourism is your new portal. Join in embarking on a magical adventure through rolling hills and cascading waterfalls; get your adrenaline pumping with paintball, quad biking, and horse riding; or slow down to enjoy the finer things in life by sampling the best cuisines across our hand-selected restaurants and markets. Wherever your desire leads, whatever your budget is, whoever you are, the Midlands has something for you. The open road is yours, seize it and do #MidlandsMyWay. 


uMngeni Tourism is establishing six tourism nodes to represent six geographical tourism areas within the region. The nodes will include Hilton, Karkloof/Curry’s Post, Howick, Nottingham Road, Mpophomeni and Dargle. Each node will focus on its specific geographical areas and strive to develop the tourism sector within that region. Nodes will encourage business and tourism product holders to join, coordinate and stimulate events that drive tourism to the area whilst remaining under the banner of uMngeni Tourism. 


This will foster an environment for sustainable tourism development and inclusive economic growth by leveraging relationships and partnerships with all spheres of government and within the business community. Creating a central touch point for all tourism-related activities, structures, platforms and organisations within the uMngeni region will be vital for the growth and sustainability of the Midlands Tourism sector. uMngeni Tourism is that central touch point.


uMngeni tourism is the proud host of the immensely successful Light the Falls Festival. A festival that celebrated the diversity of our community and showcased the immense talents of our local Howick falls crafters that highlighted the true potential of this incredible place.


In just three weeks, we managed to pull a community together. We saw more than 4000 people visit our festival. This is the power of uMngeni Tourism. An organisation that creates the platform and mechanisms for community members, businesses and sponsors to come together and host one of the most magical evenings uMngeni has seen in a very long time. 


The long-term effects were even bigger. Local Howick falls crafters were now able to earn more for their wares than they have made in the last four years combined. The revalidation of this crucial tourism attraction is a priority for uMngeni Tourism. They have been involved in every step of the new proposed redevelopment and rehabilitation of the Howick falls precinct. It is creating partnerships with significant events like the Karkloof Classic, Three Cranes, Art in the Country, Hilton College 150th Anniversary and many more. This has allowed uMngeni Tourism to be seen by the community and recognised as an organisation they want to associate with.


Attending the African Tourism Travel Indaba 2022 has brought favourable exposure to the region and helped formalise integral partnerships with Tourism Kwazulu-Natal and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs. These relationships will lay the foundation for a well-supported, prosperous, and sustainable tourism sector.


uMngeni Tourism is on the ground driving sustainable tourism growth and development. Create your own curated experiences from the 3rd of October 2022, when the brand new uMngeni Tourism website will be launched. New members will also be able to sign-up or renew their membership to uMngeni Tourism from this date. 


We are ready to create memories you will never forget. Are you?


Words by: JP Prinsloo

Photos: Roaming Media