Cape Town has its mountains, wine and beaches, Johannesburg has business going for it and the Kruger National Park but for some strange reason Durban in KwaZulu Natal, has been left out of the equation. It’s not exactly the first stop on tourists’ priority lists when visiting South Africa. As a native of this part of the world, I’ve always thought this unfair. One thing’s for sure, the Durban City Council is taking this personally and doing a lot to improve the situation.
Beaches abound along the Indian Ocean shoreline and its year-round warm waters give it one step up from the cold Atlantic Ocean in Cape Town. The promenade stretches 5 km turning it into a great big playground for runners, Segway riders and cyclists. The casino at one end keeps the slot machine addicts entertained, the hungry fed with its huge food court and the movie goers occupied. The paddling pools near North beach provide a safe splashing spot for kiddies and uShaka at the other end is a shopping paradise, restaurant complex and more pools and adventures for the whole family. The entire area is kept pristine and security is strict. Then there are other unique features that make it stand out. The car guards at North Beach take care of your keys while you go swimming or surfing, a service not to be found anywhere else as far as I know. They’ll even Whatsapp you to give you a surf report if you live some kilometres away. The rickshaws are iconic and perform their jumps and shouts wearing native costume for gleeful tourists.
The football stadium built for the Soccer World Cup, aptly called The Bread Basket because of its shape, houses huge international concerts and sports meets nowadays. Right next door, a superb outdoor market called I Heart Market fills the lawns under the trees at the weekends selling everything from mohitos to delicious curries, jewellery, clothing and lots, lots more.
Up the road, about 20 km inland, the Valley of a 1000 Hills is jaw-droppingly beautiful for its views while Zulu dancers and cultural ethnic events drum up the native in you at PheZulu. And then there’s the food and the incredibly cheap prices that put a smile on your face when you’re presented with the bill. The standard is high, the quality good and the portions generous not just at PheZulu but everywhere you go.
And while you’re in Durban, take a trip up north where the Hluhluwe Game Reserve houses the Big Five and where the wild of Africa grabs you as much and which might even be less expensive than the Kruger National Park. And we haven’t even touched on the spectacular mountain range about a 3-hour drive west called the Drakensberg.
Bathe in the warm Indian Ocean, enjoy the good weather and immerse yourself in the multi-culturalism that is Durban and surrounds.