The picturesque town is surrounded by hilly countryside and sugarcane plantations, Empangeni is all about sugarcane, timber, hot days and outdoor attractions! The 295-hectare Enseleni Nature Reserve, whose name is isiZulu for 'lair of the badger' is situated only 14 km north east and is the perfect attraction for birdwatchers and trail hikers/runners.
Empangeni forms the gateway to the reserves of Hluhluwe and Umfolozi and is a good stopover before venturing further afield.
The town itself offers a museum, war memorial and a lovely art and craft centre where visitors can view and purchase a variety of arts, crafts and African curios made by the local communities. The centre also hosts street theatre, Zulu storytelling and lively jazz sessions!
With Richards Bay only a few minutes away, visitors to the area can visit daily to take in this seaside towns attractions as well. Emapngeni accommodation includes a Casino Resort and Game Lodge, but Richards Bay offers further options such as B&B’s, Guesthouses and self-catering cottages.
Things to do and see
- Empangeni Art & Cultural Museum
- Empangeni War Memorial
- Thula Thula Game Reserve
- Enseleni Nature Reserve
- Empangeni Arts & Crafts Centre
- Umfolozi Casino Resort
- Empangeni Golf Course
- Fort Nongqayi Museum Village, Eshowe
Empangeni receives approximately 1082 mm of rain annually with most of its annual rainfall during summer.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 16˚C and 29˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 10˚C and 24˚C.
In 1851 the Norwegian Missionary Society established a station in the valley of a stream named eMpangeni from the many number of Mpange trees (Olinia Cymosa) which lined the stream. The settlement that formed around the station took the name - a Zulu name for a settlement in the heart of a region ruled by Zulu kings for centuries.
The mission was later moved to Eshowe, but in 1894 a magistracy named Empangeni was established in the valley and this was the beginning of the modern town.
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