If you’re planning a tour of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Eastern South Africa, then here’s a great holiday route.

The tropical province of KwaZulu-Natal is best known for its Zulu heritage and historical battles, but there’s more to see than spears, shields and battlefields. Love beer? Then an amble along the KwaZulu-Natal ale trail will not only give you an education in malt and hops, but take you off the beaten track of the South African back-packers trail.

Here’s why you should check out South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal’s ale trail.

The heart of Zululand, South Africa

Begin your quest for the perfect pint in Eshowe, the heart of Zululand. Small enough to showcase the entire brewing process, but large enough to churn out a range of beers; the Zululand Brewing Company is an ideal introduction to craft beer.

End your day by popping into the adjoining pub to try their signature pint, a lager/ale hybrid labelled Zulu Blonde.

Zulu history in KwaDukuza

En route to your next tasting destination, you can dilute the beer with a little local history in KwaDukuza, the final resting place of the fearsome Zulu king, Shaka. The visitor centre’s information may be slightly biased (locals see him as a noble saviour while outsiders tend to liken him to a blood-thirsty despot), but staff are so friendly that it’s tough to question the version of history they serve up.

Bunny chow down in Durban

Durban, South Africa’s third largest city has plenty to keep visitors occupied, including surf classes and museums. Wander around the Victoria Market and sample a South African favourite, bunny chow, which is a hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with curry.

Sorghum beer (if you dare)

South African favourite, sorghum beer, is a wholly unappetising-looking beverage with a similarly unappealing texture. Each swig of the murky pink-brown brew delivers a lumpy mouthful that you either sieve between your front teeth or grin and bear, embracing the drink as a meal in a carton as it was once marketed.

Due to its appearance, sorghum beer can be off-putting to outsiders, so a tour of the Congella Sorghum Brewery may be an essential education in the basics of Africa’s traditional tipple. Discover that the crusty foam on the outside of the carton is actually an incentive to buy it. As the beer continues to ferment on the supermarket shelf, the excess leaks from a vent, forming a streak known as a ‘worm’ – the mark of a beer ripe for drinking.

KwaZulu-Natal’s stunning scenery

Stop in the quaint Kloof in the Valley of a Thousand Hills. The Stoker’s Arms, based in Kloof’s old station, has tables alongside the tracks and in an old carriage. Twice a week the pub is the launch pad for the Umgeni Steam Railway, one of the country’s few passenger steam trains.

A pub in the South African Midlands

The Nottingham Road Brewery is the jewel in KwaZulu-Natal’s boozy crown. Surrounded by the rolling hills of the Midlands, the location alone sets it apart from competitors. The cosy pub is the kind of place where you pray for rain so you don’t feel obliged to continue your sightseeing schedule. Take a brewery tour and sample each of the four wonderfully-named brews, soaking them up with some home-made beef biltong.

The plush rooms upstairs are pricey but within easy stumbling distance from the bar.

What you need to know about Kwa-Zulu Natal

WHEN TO GO There’s never a bad time to visit thanks to the relatively mild climate. Summer is hot but busy, and prices increase; autumn is less crowded; and winter is best for game viewing.
GETTING THERE KLM tends to have the best prices, starting at about £500 return. Other carriers include British Airways, Virgin and South African Airways.
GETTING AROUND To follow the ale trail or explore the Northern Cape you need a hire car – see easycar.com/tntmagazine to receive a 5 per cent discount. Public transport is improving and you can travel between major cities on coaches. If you book ahead, internal flights can be a bargain.
VISAS Not necessary for stays of up to 90 days.
currency South African rand. 1 GBP = 11 ZAR.
LANGUAGE There are 11 official languages, but English is widely spoken.
going out A local beer costs R10-R15.
Accommodation Dorm beds are R90-R120, while a double room in a cheap hotel costs R200-R400 a night.
SEE southafrica.net.