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Within easy driving distance of King Shaka International Airport and busy metropolitan Durban lies a town of such unspoiled natural beauty, warm hospitality, world-class hotels, unpopulated stretches of immaculate beaches and laid-back country lifestyle, visitors could be forgiven for imagining that they had somehow found themselves in another country altogether. And in fact, even as business development in Durban has shifted towards the North Coast, and the Umhlanga area has become a prime focus for upmarket commercial and residential development, it has done so without affecting the outstanding variety of country scenery and the friendly community of dwellers in the area affectionately known as 'The Village'.

At the forefront of Umhlanga is a magnificent, unbroken beachfront that runs all the way through the KwaZulu-Natal region; the area between Umhlanga and Umdloti being known as the Sugar Coast for its idyllic subtropical climate all year round, and for its golden warm sands that make this one of the premier beach resorts in the country. The warm placid waters of the Indian Ocean make swimming a pleasure, and snorkelers will be delighted with the proliferation of coral reefs deeper in the waters. Surfers will be challenged with the incredible waves, and the Natal Sharks Board offers a unique perspective on those misunderstood creatures, with replicas, dissections and even early morning sightings out in the sea. While inland the KwaZulu-Natal region is saturated with a large variety of nature reserves and beauty spots, including Beachwood Mangroves Nature Reserve, Umgeni River Bird Park, Krantzkloof and Albert Falls.

And while nature lovers are well-catered for, Umhlanga also offers a richness of culture to its urbanite residents. The Gateway Mall is a particular highlight, being the largest shopping centre in the Southern Hemisphere. The mall houses an entire ecosystem of shops and restaurants, as well as an IMAX Theatre, a wave pool, a climbing wall (the highest in the planet), nightclubs, adventure drives and a skate park designed by skateboarding legend Tony Hawk. The Sibaya Casino serves up gambling as well as state-of-the-art conferencing facilities. Umhlanga Country Club and the Edgemont Country Club provide facilities for tennis, squash, bowling and championship golf courses as well as world-class conference rooms; while the Moses Madiba Stadium is only a short drive away. And the unmistakeable Umhlanga Lighthouse looms over the region attracting thousands of visitors every year.

The Umhlanga property market continues to go from strength to strength, offering luxury vacation housing and affordable apartments with great accessibility to all of Umhlanga's feature attractions. Brand new apartments with luxury features can go for as little as R895K, and prospective buyers would be advised to keep their ears to the ground, as these units sell almost as quickly as they can be built. While state of the art office developments are also emerging and enticing businesses to move out of the crowded North Coast of Durban. The town centre also offers a vibrant, artsy feel with smaller malls and colourful streets. With such a stunning variety of residential opportunities, it's not surprising to see that real estate buyers are increasingly looking out of the overcrowded cities, to uncover local gems like Umhlanga.

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