The little, yet fascinating village of Howick lies just 40 kms from Pietermaritzburg, forming part of the renowned Midlands Meander, and surrounded by other quaint villages such as Karkloof, Merrivale and Lion’s River.
The town is known is known as the place of many waterfalls, owing to the many tributaries of the uMngeni River that tumble down gorges and over sharp inclines on their way to the Indian Ocean, some 95 kms to the east. Howick is probably most visited because of the Howick Falls, a 100 metre cascade of water, practically in the centre of town. The falls were known by the Zulus as KwaNogqaza - place of the tall one - and first seen by European travellers on their way to trade from the coast in the early 19th century. Several other waterfalls in the vicinity worth a visit, include the Cascade Falls (25m), Shelter Falls (27m) and Karkloof Falls (105m).
The little village may be visited because of its Falls, but Howick is most likely best known as the place where Nelson Mandela was arrested in August 1962. In December 1996 Nelson Mandela was awarded the Freedom of Howick and visitors can visit the site where he was captured.
A nature lovers dream, Howick is filled with opportunities to engage in outdoor activities, fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking, game viewing, bird watching and much more. The country village is also a treasure trove of antiques and bric-a-bracs and quaint restaurants and village pubs which contribute to the irresistible charm of the town.
Howick provides almost every type of accommodation from Country Inns, Guesthouses and B&B’s to self-catering cottages and camping!
Things to do and see
- Nelson Mandela Capture Site
- Karkloof Conservation Centre
- Umgeni Valley Environmental Centre
- Benvie Gardens
- Bushwillow Park
- Howick Falls
- Karkloof MTB Trails
- Midmar Dam
- St Luke’s Anglican Church
- Highgate Wine Estate
- The Piggly Wiggly
- Karkloof Farmers Market
- Midlands Country Market
Howick receives approximately 861 mm of rain annually with the majority of its’ rainfall occurring during the mid-summer months.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 14˚C and 26˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 2˚C and 22˚C.
A scar in the ground made by wagons and footprints following a line of least resistance over mountains and valleys was the first trail from the coast of Natal to the interior of South Africa. These unplanned routes would sometimes lead to some awkward situations and so blacksmiths, traders, and innkeepers established businesses along these routes to assist and supply travellers.
In 1849, the Wesleyan Missionary James Archbell bought three farms above the northern bank of the Umgeni River. Title deeds of the original plots simply named the area "The Village on the Umgeni Waterfall". In 1850, the river crossing was moved to the dangerous but more convenient spot at the top of the Falls, less than 200 metres from where the river plunged over the cliff's edge.
In 1850 Howick was founded when the Government decided to establish a village at the crossing and purchased part of James Archbell's farm. The towns name was chosen in honour of the Secretary of State for the Colonies in London. He was Earl Grey and had recently acquired the title of Lord Howick.
The first inhabitant of Howick was an Hotel Keeper who also provided a ferry service.
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