The town is situated on the Pongola River which flows on to the Jozini Dam (previously called the Pongolapoort Dam) and at the foothills of the Lebombo Mountains. It is surrounded by sugar cane farms and sub-tropical fruit plantations, some of which are under irrigation that was installed during the great depression in the 1930’s. With not much to do other than to admire the magnificent scenery and wildlife, visitors can expect to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the area and to spend a lot of their time in the beautiful outdoors.
The Pongola Nature Reserve is possible the biggest attraction for tourists. It was proclaimed in 1894 by Paul Kruger making it the second oldest reserve in Africa. The Reserve can confirm 120 species of birds and is home to four of the Big 5.
Pongola has become an ideal stop along the N2 to popular holiday destinations like Kosi Bay, Sodwana Bay, Mozambique and of course Swaziland. It is a wonderful stop where you can browse the local arts and crafts market and enjoy traditional lunches.
There are various accommodation options in the area, which include B&B’s, Guesthouses, Lodges, self-catering cottages.
Things to do and see
- Illovo Sugar Mills
- Cultural Tours
- Bivane Dam
- Pongola Nature Reserve
- Amazulu Game Reserve
- Pongola Golf Course
Pongola receives approximately 678 mm of rain annually with most of its annual rainfall during summer.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 17˚C and 33˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 8˚C and 26˚C.
There are daily flights into Richards Bay Airport approximately 209 km away via the N2. Other alternatives are flying into O R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, approximately 409 Km’s away along the N2 and N17 and into King Shaka International Airport in Durban, approximately 345 Km’s away via the N2. Car hire facilities are available at the Airport.
Phongolo is the Zulu word for trough because of the many deep pools with steep sides along the rivers course.
After the 1st World War, settlers started planting crop fields, building houses and laying railway lines but droughts and disease hampered this expansion. For almost three years it was a bitter struggle to survive against sleeping sickness and the tsetse fly. Believing that the game brought the tsetse fly, settlers tried to destroy the animals to rid the area of the tsetse fly and for a long period of time, 'Kill the game!' was the motto most men lived by.
By 1940 the wild game was gone but the tsetse fly remained. In 1948 the war against the tsetse fly was finally won with the notorious DDT insecticide. Cattle flourished and sugar cane farms intruded further along the course of the Pongola River.
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