Durban summarised - funsunzi, warm water golden beaches, fun in the tropical sun, spicy delicious curries, lekka bunny chows, friendly people, nightclubs, surfing, bronzed bodies, total blissful relaxation, hot summer nights, cocktail bars, bright city lights, Wild Coast, Drakensberg, holiday mood, warm winters, buzzing night life, summer evening thunderstorms, sundowners at Moyo looking at the beach, Kingspark, the majestic Moses Mabhida stadium, Gateway Theatre of Shopping, playfulness, the luxurious Hilton Hotel, sitting on a rock watching waves break, O shaka Marine World, boat trips, oh and the beautiful ladies...myself included! Wear sunscreen :)
On the 29th January 2013 a little ceremony was held at the LA City Hall's Rotunda to formalise Los Angeles and Durban becoming sister cities (the 26th sister city of LA).
Visit uShaka Marine World
Beaches (including Umhlanga Rocks)
Durban Botanic Gardens
Gateway Shopping Center, the largest in South Africa
Fitzsimons Snake Park (240 Lower Marine Parade, ph 031 337 6456)
Sri Sri Radhanath Temple (try the vegetarian buffet on Sundays)
Maritime Museum, Phansi Museum
Wavehouse (flowriders), Funworld on the beachfront, including the cable car
Here's a list of daytrips for you to choose from and explore Durban's attractions:
iSithumba is a little Zulu village on the uMngeni River below a granite boulder called "Old Baldy" or iSithumba Mountain, about an hour's drive from Durban. Learn about the spiritual practises of the Zulu from the Sangoma, & scramble up Old Baldy to enjoy a view over the valley. Arrange a trip with iSithumba Adventures (031 322 6026)
View Larger Map - it's 10 minutes quicker to go via the N3, but not as scenic as the route we've suggested above.
PheZulu Village is situated in the Valley of a Thousand Hills just outside Durban (a lot closer than iSithumba Village), and is a good spot for crafts and artefacts, although you wont get as immersed in the Valley of a Thousand Hills as in iSithumba Village. It is home to the Gasa clan. For a taste of traditional Zulu culture this is the place to visit. See the traditional behive beehive shaped huts, artifacts and listed to and witness Zulu rituals. A visitor is also treated to an energy filled Zulu dance show. The dancers wear traditional Zulu garb. To sample traditional Zulu food go to the Croctilian Restaurant. Nearby is a Safari Park where you can see a snake and crocodile park and enjoy a game drive to watch wildebeest, impala, blesbok, zebra and giraffe in their natural habitat.
Enter the world of legendary Zulu King Shaka and learn of the traditions and customs of the great Zulu nation. You can enjoy a traditional Zulu luncheon and see tribal dancing. See the spear-making and beer –brewing demonstrations. Take the N2 north from Durban, turn off to R66 going to Eshowe, pass through Eshowe and look for the sign to Shakaland on your left. Phone 035-4600912 for more details.
Townships are the cultural soul of South Africa and few can rival the townships of Inanda and kwaMashu in their cultural richness. Weave to the rhythmic heartbeat of these “locations” and share a traditional shisanyama lunch at a local tavern. It is best to take a tour – to be on the safe side. Transport and lunch provided. Phone 031-3685909.
Mini Town is a good first stop for tourists in Durban to get their bearings and a feel for where things are. It includes a rail track with trains constantly chugging around. It's a 10 minute drive to Mini Town (phone 031-337-7892) which is owned by the Quadriplegic Association of KZN, used to provide employment for some of their members and raise funds for the organisation.
A half hour drive out of Durban, past Pinetown, is the Krantzkloof Nature Conservancy, where the Nkutu and Molweni river gorges meet, and offers walk through nature. There's abundant birdlife and also views across the gorges.
Tala Game Reserve is an hour's drive from Durban. You can view rhino, kudu, hippo, giraffe and antelope – plus lots of birdlife. Take the N3 , exit 57 (Camperdown off ramp) follow the signs. Phone 031-7818000 for more details.
The Lion Park is a favourite destination for kids – it’s the place circus lions go to when their careers are at an end. On the same route as Tala, up to Pietermaritzburg. Look for the turnoff about 70kms from Durban. You aren’t allowed to get out of the car while driving through, but at the restaurant and curio shop they have enclosures where you get a closer look. You can see elephant, impala, zebra, leopard and wildebeest. Phone 031-7851423 for more details.
Situated in central Durban this harbor is Africa’s biggest port and the worlds ninth largest. The harbour is the port of call of both cargo and passenger ships-not to forget it is home to a number of yachts. Take a boat cruise from Durban and enjoy the breathtaking views of the city, the flowery trees of Berea Ridge and the greenery of the Bluff.
Durban's warm waters are perfect for sea kayaking - contact Ocean Kayaking to hire a kayak (phone 086 100 1138). Follow the directions to Ushaka and look for Ocean Adventures.
Situated on the warm Indian ocean an hour's drive south from Durban is Umkomaas. Aliwal Shoal is the name of the famous reef a few kilometres out to sea. It is rated as one of the ten best dive spots in the world. Visitors can usually see tiger sharks in summer months, as well as other variety of sharks. Phone 039-9732542 for reservations.
Experience an early morning boat trip with the Sharks Board and you can see first-hand how the crew services the shark nets off Durban’s beaches. Trips last two hours and start 6.30 am – You board the boat at Wilsons Wharf in Durban. Phone 0824039206 for reservations.
If you love swimming in the sea but are a bit afraid of sharks, you have a choice of wonderful tidal pools along the north and south coasts to choose from. A half hour trip from Durban,heading north is Ballito. There is a tidal pool, plus many rock pools for the children. If you have a mussel licence (which you can purchase at any post office) you can pick up to 30 mussels a day off the rocks in Ballito. They are normally the size of your palm, and most delicious on a braai. Overlooking the tidal pool is the Galley, a restaurant with a good menu, and the best view of the ocean you can get up the coast. There is another tidal pool at Chakas Rock, and then at Salt Rock called Thompsons Bay). Down the south coast Amanzimtoti also boasts a tidal pool, and going further south there is Scottburgh. Both beaches have safe bathing areas with lifesavers during the day.
uShaka Marine World is the largest marine theme park in Africa, with slides varying from terrifying drops to small kiddies rides. Remember to take your swimming costume.
Whilst this can be a day outing, we recommend setting aside 2 days to fully explore it (especially if you're taking along little ones). Phone uShaka Marine World at 031-328-8000.
80 shops & restaurants
Phantom Ship with its Shark Bar, Cargo Hold, Upper Deck Restaurant & Aquarium
Wet & Wild slides and rides
Dolphin & seal stadiums
This tourist attraction is also situated in Central Durban. There are a host of activities to keep the whole family busy. Take a slide down the water slides in the Wet and Wild, view the amazing sealife in Seaworld, enjoy a meal at the Upper Deck restaurant and ocean exhibition aboard a real stationary ship. The kids can have loads of fun in the many activities provided for them. These include Kids World, Jungle gym Crabby Beach, giant sandpit, Pollys paint pen, Black Skulls treasure Cave. Water Cannon Zone, Treasure Island to name a few. The Village walk has many shops for soveniers and for the hungry many places to eat.
Situated in Umhlanga this is the place to be for many Durbanites. It is believed to be the largest shopping mall in Africa. Besides the multitude of shops that sell almost anything Gateway is filled with places of entertainment. The Barnyard offers spectacular shows while you have dinner. The wavehouse has manmade waves for those who love surfing. The moviehouses show the latest Hollywood and Bollywood movies. There is also rock climbing for the adventurous. For the hungry there are plenty of restaurants to suit all tastes and pockets. Hotel accommodation is plenty and closeby.
A short distance away in the bustling township of Chatsworth is the Bangladesh Market, which is open on Fridays and Saturdays. Here you would experience the Indian way of life. Faced with resistance from the municipality the people from Chatsworth fought to keep the market open. Today hundreds of informal traders sell anything from fresh produce, clothing, cosmetics, tasty Indian food and snacks, electrical equipment and much more. The prices of goods are sometimes half what you would pay at large chain stores. The Market only opens on Saturdays.
For those interested in unique architecture, this temple is not to be missed. Shaped like a Lotus flower and built in the 1980’s it houses the deities Sri Sri RadhaRadhanath. The temple is built with marble floor tiles, gold tinted windows and brass ornaments. The ceiling is decorated with beautiful paintings of the Hindu God, Lord Krishna’s pastimes. A visit to the temple is a feast for the eyes. A bonus is the Govinda’s Restaurant downstairs that sells delicious vegetarian meals, sweets and fresh fruit juice- all at affordable prices. This temple is not far from the Bangladesh Market and is also situated in Chatsworth.
The Riverbend Crocodile farm is a 90 minuted drive south of Durban, and take about 1.5 hours by car. The farm hosts 200 adult crocodiles. For wild life enthusiasts more information is available at the education centre with videos on the life of crocodiles. Feeding is done on Sundays at 15h00.
On this ordinary part of the R103 about 3km outside Howick, is the spot where Nelson Mandela was arrested on the 5th August 1962, after being on the run for 17 months (and would then be imprisoned for 27 years). It's about a 70 minute drive from Durban. There isn't a lot there, but is a worthwhile visit for those who want to get a better feel for the history of the country, and to see the sculpture which marks the spot.
The Kamberg is about a 2.5 hour drive from Durban, and close to the Drakensberg Mountain Range (but not so far from Durban). It offers the opportunity to suck fresh country air into your lungs, whilst enjoys walks or biking on its gentle slopes. For accommodation in the Kamberg try the Allendale Mountain Reserve or the Hartford Country Estate.
Cloepatra Mountain Farmhouse is an hour and a half drive away (125km) from Durban. Not only does it offer serenity, but is a major destination for foodies (but not for those wanting to go on diet!).
Hluhluwe /Umfolozi game reserve is a two and a half hour trip north from Durban, and home to the big five. Take the N2 north, keep a lookout for the R618 to the left after about two hours of travel.
St. Lucia Wetlands is a World Heritage site where you will be able to view the Nile crocodile, the hippo and enjoy the birdlife. It is 243 kms from Durban, heading up the north coast. Stop and enjoy the feel of St. Lucia town, full of little trinket shops, woven mats and bead work. To book a boat trip go into the village and look for the information centre.
Formerly known as "Port Natal", Durban is the largest town in Kwazulu-Natal and known for its warm swimming waters and tropical weather. South Africa's largest harbour is in Durban.
Durban's Umhlanga suburb has the southern hemisphere's biggest shopping mall - the Gateway Centre, which boasts 18 movie theatres, an IMAX theatre, more than 60 restaurants, a 4000-square metre skating rink, the world's highest indoor climbing rock and more than 300 shops.
Don't walk around at night. Period. Travellers should be vigilant at all times, especially at bus stations, airports and traffic lights as organised gangs are known to operate there (there are beggars at traffic lights, which makes it easier for criminals to operate from them as you're used to people around your car). You should be careful at all times in the city of Durban and by the beachfront. Carjackings are common in this city. Muggings can occur anywhere at any time. Especially females are at risk of being raped, even on the beachfront. When renting a car, ensure that you get a sedan with a closed boot as valuables are safer there. Here's more tips for tourist safety.
If you are careful it becomes a lot safer, so if you can get past that you're in for a real treat, as Durban has great people, delicious food and year round warm weather.
Durban's famous north beach pier
There are not as many international flights to Durban airport, so coming from overseas you may need to fly via Johannesburg International Airport. There are frequent flights from Johannesburg to Durban, and if you're in Cape Town, there are also frequent flights from Cape Town to Durban.
King Shaka International Airport was built at La Mercy (30km north of Durban) - completed by December 2009 and commissioned in the first quarter of 2010; with the building passing an environmental impact assessment (Mount Moreland, a small village about 2km from the proposed runway bears the brunt of the aircraft noise). The airport was built by the Airports Company South Africa (Acsa), a government subsidiary, and forms part of the Dube Tradeport industrial development zone.
Durban International Airport was de-commissioned in the first quarter of 2010, and may become a dugout harbour.
Durban is connected via the N2 national road to East London, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. Durban is connected via the N3 to Johannesburg. When renting a car, ensure that you get a sedan with a closed boot as valuables are safer there.
The train station offers connections to Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Durban's port is the busiest in Africa.
From the top of the Moses Mabhida Stadium you get a great view of Durban. You can even jump off the top: "Straight from the airport we headed to ‘The Big Rush’ (the world’s tallest bungee swing) at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban city centre, so the boys (and girls) could throw themselves off of a 106 meter arch." Maidenhead Under 16’s tour of South Africa
Make sure you eat a "bunny chow".
Earth Mother Organic
Taste of India
Peel's Honey Shop
Roma Revolving Restaurant
Also try House of Curries, Pizetta, Mo's Noodles, Bite Your Tongue or Cafe 1999. The best spot for sundowners is the Oysterbox Hotel at Umhlanga.
Sunrise Chip 'n Ranch
House of Curries
24 Nov 2009
The Moses Mabhida Stadium is officially completed.
13 Aug 2006
New airport to create job bonanza
Durban's whaling stations are closed.
The first harbour master at Durban is appointed.
Port Natal is renamed Durban after Sir Benjamin d'Urban.
Britain colonises the area and renames Rio de Natal "Port Natal".
Vasco da Gama sees what is now known as Durban harbour, and calls it Rio de Natal (Christmas River).
Zulu's call what is now known as Durban, eThekwini, a word derived from itheku which means lagoon or bay, referring to the lagoon formed where the Umsundusi River meets the Indian Ocean.