South Africa has always fascinated me and there is no way better way to get inspired on the next adventure than to get some tips and tricks from a local. Shalinee form Life, Love and Travel is one of those locals i have pleasure of knowing. Obviously, I had to ask her to tell me more about Durban and when she did i decided to share it with you. Here is a mini destination guide on her city-Durban!
When most people think of visiting South Africa, it’s usually to the much bigger and popular cosmopolitan cities like Johannesburg and Cape Town. However, where you go, what you do and what you choose to see is definitely one of personal preference since South Africa is home to numerous cultures, languages and races. Johannesburg is well known for its fast paced cosmopolitan vibe and is home to many of SA’s famous celebrities whilst Cape Town on the other hand, is famous for its breathtaking views of Table Mountain, night shopping at Canal Walk and the V & A Waterfront. Being two of the larger cities, it’s easy to forget about the third largest city located on the east coast of South Africa – beautiful Durban! Filled with a mix of cultures, a strong British colonial heritage and beautiful architecture, this exciting city is quickly becoming one of SA’s most popular holiday destinations.
Here is your mini destination guide to Durban!
PRE TRAVEL INSPIRATION & INTERESTING FACTS
Slowly becoming one of South Africa’s most popular holiday destinations, Durban is one of the busiest ports in Africa. Located on the east coast, its sun-kissed beaches, year round subtropical climate and friendly locals have warmed the hearts of many visitors from far and wide. Here’s some pre-travel inspiration and facts to get you in the South African beat.
Five Interesting Facts about Durban:
· The Durban harbor is the 9thlargest in the world and forms one of the busiest ports in Africa.
· The oldest ultra-marathon in the world, also known as the Comrades marathon, takes place here annually.
· The famous beachfront rickshaws were originally brought to Durban in 1893 from London and have been in operation for over 100 years.
· Durban is home to the world’s fifth largest aquarium – Ushaka Marine World – located at the end of The Golden Mile (a stretch of beach running 6 km’s).
· The International Airport – also known as King Shaka International Airport – is named after Shaka Zulu, a famous Zulu King who ruled the surrounding lands.
WHEN TO VISIT
Durban is well known for its year-round warm subtropical climate. With an average of 320 days of sunshine a year; warm, wet summers and mild dry winters; it has become a popular holiday destination for many.
The winter season runs from June to August and is generally characterized by maximum temperatures of 24 °C as well as low humidity levels, making it one of the more popular times to visit. This also means that even during the coldest times of the year, you can still enjoy the beaches! If you’re lucky and if temperatures are right, you most likely will be able to catch the Sardine Run which happens sometime between June and July. Imagine thousands of sardines travelling along the east coast… often followed by dolphins, whales and sharks. It certainly should not be missed!
Film Fundi’s should also make note of the International Film Festival that runs at this time of year as well. The festival features both international and South African films and documentaries.
Summers run from December to March and are characterized by hot humid weather with temperatures of about 30 °C. If you’ve ever wanted to experience a true African thunderstorm, then this is when you should visit! Despite blistering hot days, most summer evenings are characterized by heavy rainfall and extreme thunderstorms. This is also one of the busiest times of the year and things can get pretty crowded at famous tourist spots and beaches.
TOP THINGS TO SEE
There are tons of things to see in Durban but here’s my top ten:
Durban has become famous for its central beach area where you can wander along the promenades, browse flea markets or take a surf lesson. For the adventurous, maybe try kayaking on the Umgeni River, jet skiing at Blue Lagoon or grab a cocktail as you dangle your feet over the waves at the famous uShaka Moyo Pier Bar. You can also try skating at the beach front skate park or for a true African experience, catch a ride on one of the traditional Zulu rickshaws.
|North Beach, Durban
Moses Mabhida Stadium
The Stadium itself was originally built for the 2010 Fifa World Cup but currently has a range of fun activities on offer – take a ride up the stadium arches on the Sky Car which has a reported vantage point of 106 m; or for adrenaline junkies why not bungee jump of the stadium itself? For those of you looking for a more chilled vibe: be sure to visit the iHeart market on the first Saturday of every month, grab a drink from the many restaurants around or rent a bicycle and ride alongside the stadium and beachfront promenades.
|Souvenirs on sale at the iHeart market, Moses Mabhida Stadium
Safari: Hluhluwe Game Reserve and Safari / Tala Game Reserve
If you’re an international guest, you can’t visit Durban without spending a day or two on safari. Two of the more popular options are the 1) Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve and 2) Tala Game Reserve. The Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve is located on the north coast of the KwaZulu-Natal province and is home to approximately 84 species of game. It is also home to Africa’s “Big Five” – which means if you’re lucky, you could see lions, buffaloes, rhinos, elephants and leopards amongst other majestic creatures. The Tala Game Reserve is a mere 60 minute drive from Durban and spans a massive 7400 acres. It is home to approximately 380 species of birds and popular game like rhinos, wildebeests, hippos and giraffes.
uShaka Marine World
One of the main attractions on Durban’s Golden Mile beach stretch is Ushaka Marine World – one of Durban’s top water parks. Home to the Wet & Wild swimming area, Sea World, Village Walk, uShaka Kids World and UShaka Dangerous Creatures; this is a fun place where many locals hang out.
|Cocktails at uShaka Moyo
Valley of a 1000 Hills
If you’re looking for a more tranquil setting the Valley of a 1000 Hills is just the place. Located just 30 minutes inland, this is one of Durban’s more scenic and laid-back countryside sights that shouldn’t be missed. Be sure to check out the Phezulu Safari Park, Cultural village, Crocodile & Snake Park as well as the Umgeni Stream Railway train which will take you through many bustling nearby villages.The Valley of a 1000 Hills – www.panoramio.com
GREAT SPOTS FOR PANORAMIC VIEWS
Top of Moses Mahbida Stadium
Valley of a 1000 Hills
SOME LOCAL FOODS TO TRY
One of the things I absolutely love about Durban is that its colonial past, rich history and many cultures have all infused together, giving the city a mix of flavors manifesting in some of the most unique dishes. Trying some delicious South African food should be part of every visitor’s itinerary. Five foods you should try are:
This is a local version of the more well-known New York hot dog containing a spicy char-grilled sausage.
Biltong and Droewors
Traditional South African beef snacks that consist of dried, cured meats which are usually salted and sometimes flavored.
Spicy relish consisting of grated carrots, green peppers, sliced onions, vinegar and chili, often served alongside a main course.
Melktert (also known as ‘milktart’)
This classic South African dessert shows distinctive Dutch traits and is similar to the ‘melktert’ you will find in Holland. It consists of a sweet pastry crust, filled with a creamy custard filling made from milk, flour, sugar and eggs; baked in a round pie, followed by a dusting of cinnamon.
Another Dutch-decent dessert – the word koeksister is actually derived from word ‘koekje’ meaning ‘cookie’… although… this isn’t really a cookie! Imagine a doughnut-like dough that has been braided, deep-fried and coated with syrup. Mmmmm!
MY TOP ALTERNATIVE THINGS TO DO
Traditional artwork on sale at Essenwood Market
Durban is famous for a wide range of food and lifestyle markets, where you’ll find everything from organic produce to clothing to arts and crafts. Visit the Essenwood Market on a Saturday morning, The Morning Trade which runs every Sunday morning or The Litchi Orchard Day and Night Markets which run on the second Saturday and last Friday of each month respectively.
If you have a few days to spare, it’s a good idea to take a trip to the Drakensberg Mountains, located some 230 km’s outside of Durban. It’s a bit of a drive but a beautiful one at that.
For those of you wanting something a little more stylish and pretty, afternoon tea at The Oyster Box is a must. You’ll enjoy a range of treats under chandeliers purchased in London and of course, live piano music! It’s one of the prettiest places around.
|The Oyster Box
Durban and surrounding areas have a range of reefs and shipwrecks, making it a fun spot for diving. There are also a range of centers providing PADI scuba diving courses ranging from beginner to the more advanced. Popular dive spots include Aliwal Shoal and Sodwana Bay.
As with any trip, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the country and city history – this way you’ll have a much deeper understanding and richer cultural experience when you visit.
South Africa, unfortunately is not one of the safest places to visit. However if you take the necessary precautions, you will be fine. Be sure to take care of your personal valuables. Don’t wander around with your wallet, passport and other valuables in plain sight and don’t wander off major tourist routes unless you’re with a local who knows exactly where they are going. Also, take sensible precautions when driving.
Health checks: Make sure to check what the vaccination requirements are with your local travel agent before arriving. Most travelers will require a valid yellow fever certificate if coming from an infected area or being in transit through one. Also, most of South Africa is malaria-free but it’s a good idea to double check with the game reserve you’re planning to visit and take necessary precautions.
Winter is generally the best time to go on safari. Vegetation is sparse and this makes it easier to spot game. Also, since there is less rain during this period, many animals tend to congregate around watering holes, which means you’ll get some brilliant pictures.
Movies you should watch:
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013)
Leon Schuster’s Mr Bones (2001)
Essential words to learn:
Bru / Bra / Oke / China – male friend
Bokkie – sweetheart; honey
Braai – a BBQ
Chow – to eat
Eina! – Ouch!
Eish! – used to express surprise, wonder, outrage: “Eish! I can’t believe they’re playing so badly” or “Eish! That was scary!”
Howzit – Used as a greeting meaning “How’s it going?” (You may also hear “heita” or “hoezit”)
Lekker – really nice
Ja-Nee – “Yes No” – used when you don’t really want to agree or disagree
Jislaaik – Expressed in extreme surprise