Richards Bay was named after Frederick William Richards, a Commander with the Royal Navy. When he learned of the conflict the English experienced in Zululand, Richards arrived with 250 men in support of his countrymen. He surveyed the coast in 1879. The result was a map where he showed the Mhlathuze Lagoon as Richards Bay.
In 1906, development of the area got underway with the founding of the Zululand Fisheries and the first ox wagon track leading inland to the sugar town of Empangeni. In 1928, a hotel and store were built; gradually Richards Bay developed from a fishermen's village into the economic center of Northern Kwazulu-Natal.
The new deep-water port established in 1976 is second in size to Durban, but handles more cargo than any other port in the province. In its wake, a number of large and small industries, hotels, shops and restaurants have sprung up, causing the town to develop at a record-breaking pace. The surrounding area with its game reserves, exotic vegetation and native villages provides the real attraction.
For many visitors to South Africa, Zululand is often the only taste they get of the 'real' Africa. It covers much of central Kwazulu-Natal and includes the port of Richards Bay and the adjacent Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Park. The region is dominated by one tribal group, the Zulu; their customs, historical traditions and culture are evident throughout the area. The name Zulu derives from an early chief, whose descendants were called aba-kwa Zulu, or people of Zulu. Their capital is Ulundi, located north of the Tugela River. Much of Zululand consists of attractive rolling hills in the interior and coastal areas, where it is usually hot and humid.
Please Note: Richards Bay has a very limited amount of tour vehicles. Additional equipment has to be brought from Durban, making the tours rather costly.