Richards Bay Accommodation

Richards Bay Accommodation

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The port town of Richards Bay is named after Admiral Sir F.W.R. Richards, who was appointed Commander of the West Coast of Africa in 1878. He landed at Port Durnford on the East Coast after the British defeat at the hands of the Zulus. HMS Forrester, a ship under his command, surveyed the coastline and the Mhlathuze lagoon and recorded is as Richards Bay.

The modern, thriving town of Richards Bay has excellent accommodation facilities available such as hotels, lodges, guest houses, bed & breakfast and self catering establishments.

The focus of entertainment is at the Tuzi Gazi waterfront at the Small Crafts harbour with restaurants, craft shops and water sport facilities. Shark-netted beaches at Alkanstrand provide ample opportunity for safe bathing, fishing and picnicking.

The Bay Crocodile Sanctuary and Enseleni Nature Reserve are also well known.

Richards Bay, or Richardsbaai in Afrikaans, is a significant city situated in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. Nestled on the shores of a vast 30 square-kilometer lagoon formed by the Mhlatuze River, Richards Bay boasts one of the largest harbors in the country and is home to the deepest natural harbor on the African continent. The city’s history is intertwined with its maritime significance, evolving from a makeshift harbor during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 to becoming a thriving industrial hub with a rich ecological diversity.

The origins of Richards Bay can be traced back to 1879 when Commodore Sir Markus Eugene Brown, during the Anglo-Zulu War, established a makeshift harbor. Recognizing its potential, Cathcart Methven, the harbor engineer for the Natal Government, identified Richards Bay as a promising site for a new harbor in 1902. Over the years, the area underwent development, leading to the creation of the Richards Bay Game Sanctuary in 1935 to protect the local ecology. By 1954, the town was officially laid out on the lagoon’s shores and was formally proclaimed a town in 1969.

The major turning point in Richards Bay’s history occurred in 1976 when the South African Government, under Minister of Transport Ben Schoeman, decided to construct a deep-water harbor. The construction took four years, and in April 1976, the new deep-water harbor was inaugurated, complete with railway connections and an oil/gas pipeline linking it to Johannesburg. This development resulted in the forced removal of local inhabitants of the Mthiyane Zulu clan in January 1976.

The residential areas of Richards Bay began to take shape with Meerensee, the first suburb, established in 1970. Following Meerensee, Arboretum was founded in 1975, and Veldenvlei followed suit in 1980. During the era of apartheid, these suburbs were exclusively designated for white residents. Esikhaweni, located fifteen kilometers south of Richards Bay, was developed as a township for black residents. Subsequent to 1985, residential areas for Indians and colored individuals, namely Brackenham and Aquadene, were established west of Veldenvlei.

The Port of Richards Bay emerged as a vital economic engine, featuring the largest coal export facility globally by 2009. In 2007, the port’s annual throughput reached 66.12 million tons. Additionally, two aluminum smelters, Hillside Aluminum and Bayside Aluminium, operated by South32, contribute to the industrial landscape. The Foskor-operated fertilizer plant and Richards Bay Minerals, a part of the Rio Tinto Group, engaged in mining iron ore, rutile, and zircon, further enhance the city’s economic profile. The diverse range of local exports includes coal, bananas, aluminum, titanium, heavy minerals, granite, ferrochrome, paper pulp, wood chips, and phosphoric acid.

Despite its economic prosperity, Richards Bay, like many regions in South Africa, grapples with unemployment and poverty. Approximately forty percent of the population is unemployed, and a significant portion lives below the poverty line. Efforts to address these challenges have fallen short, with insufficient projects aimed at poverty reduction.

The John Ross Parkway, connecting Richards Bay to Empangeni and the N2 highway, is named after Charles Rawden Maclean, also known as John Ross. Ross, at the age of 15, undertook a remarkable journey from Port Natal to Maputo and back during the early settlement period.

In addition to its industrial activities, Richards Bay plays a crucial role in the tourism sector. Positioned as a gateway to Zululand, the city attracts foreign tourists interested in exploring large game parks and experiencing diverse wildlife. The Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone, one of two in the KwaZulu-Natal province, offers fully serviced industrial land connected to the Port of Richards Bay

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