Durban lies on the Eastern Seaboard of Africa and is well known for its warm tropical climate and even warmer waters, primed for frolicking in and soaking up the African sun. Even though the beaches proverbially beckon, there is so much more to Durban than just the sun, sea and sand. It is a playground of activity that includes everything from heart pumping adventure to the more historically prevalent. Durban is often described as an elegant city and the locals enhance the African and established Indian flavor with their hospitality and welcoming natures. Here is our list of what you should be doing in the city of Durban:
1. Take a Walk on the Ocean Floor at Ushaka Sea World
This is one of the world’s largest aquariums, making it truly an underwater world of it’s own. It forms part of the 40 acre Ushaka Marine World and is a chance to interact with some very interesting creatures of the deep. You can sign up for the Ocean Walker experience which involves a breathing helmet and a walk across the bottom of the Open Ocean Exhibit which is home to rays and a selection of fish like tuna, dorado and sardines. For the more daring, an enclosed cylinder is dropped into the large shark tank. No diving experience is necessary and children from 12 years and up are welcome. Ushaka Marine World itself is also a very popular family holiday destination. It has a Wet and Wild Water Park and the Village Walking shopping centre.
2. Sundowners at Moyo’s
A restaurant with a reputation that precedes itself, the building is one of Durban’s top ten architectural landmarks. It’s perfectly placed on the pier, 150m out to sea and is the only place you can see the sunset over the Durban city skyline. With cuisine designed to having you salivate for more you can expect the likes of bunny chows, boerie rolls (a South African) favorite, Karoo Lamb and Springbok Carpaccio. Wood and exotic textiles, drums and beanbags add an African ambience to this restaurant.
3. Explore the Roots of the Zulu Culture at the Valley of 1000 Hills
As you can imagine, the Valley of 1000 Hills is so named because of the many hills, cliffs and valleys which rise up from the banks of the Umgeni River as it flows from the distant Drakensberg Mountains to the Indian Ocean. This diverse area combines luxury laid-back country living with an ancient, indigenous culture. This has been the home of the Zulu culture for centuries with many still living a uniquely traditional lifestyle. There is a strong presence of history and identity, explore this by taking an organised tour. You’ll see ancient Zulu ceremonies, traditional Zulu dancing and their communication with the ancestral spirits.
4. Swimming with Sharks-Blue Wilderness
Blue Wilderness offers an unforgettable shark diving experience for both snorkelers and scuba divers. A two hour expedition happens daily from Rocky Bay and after a quick boat ride to Durban’s Aliwal Shoal, blacktip sharks surround the boat and you have the chance to accompany a marine scientist guide for a swim with them. Not for the faint of heart but a thrilling face-to-face encounter for the daring.
5. Bike Ride on the Golden Mile or Savor a Sunset
What’s in a name? In the case of the Golden Mile, it derives its name from the golden sand beaches lining the coastal edge of the city’s central business district. A wide, brick-paved promenade is favorite for strolling, jogging, cycling or detouring out on the piers to watch the surfers and kite boarders. It’s an desirable beach life feel. A morning or evening cycle along the promenade is a great way to indulge in a sunset or sunrise. Guided cycle tours are available including bike and helmet rentals.
6. Journey through the Inanda Heritage Trail
There were some very key chapters in South African history written in Inanda, a township northwest of Durban. The great Mahatma Gandhi was an expat lawyer in Inanda in 1904 and this is where he nurtured his passive-resistance philosophy. John Dube, the first president of the African National Congress (ANC) was born here in 1871 and opened the local Ohlange Institute where iconic president Nelson Mandela cast his vote in South Africa’s first democratic elections. The Inanda Heritage Tour encompasses all of these key historic sites. This is where great men have tread and changed the course of history.
7. Stadium Swing at Moses Mabhida Stadium
The Moses Mabhida Stadium was built for the 2010 Soccer World Cup and has incorporated an exciting activity called the Big Rush Stadium Swing. It involves climbing the stadiums arch and then taking a leap from the top. For the ones more suited to a relaxing activity, the sky car is a pleasant ride with spectacular 360 degree views of Durban.
8. Discover the Indian District
Durban is home to the highest concentration of Indians outside India. Indian traditions and culture have helped shaped and mould Durban into the city it is today. Take a guided walking tour of the district around Dr Yusuf Dadoo (Grey) and Bertha Mkhize (Victoria) Streets to immerse yourself into this fascinating culture. The Victoria Street Market is where dealers in traditional kurtas and saris sell their incense, ornately embroidered fabrics and of course, aromatic spices such as cumin, saffron, tandoori and any curry mixture. The bunny chow is Durban’s original fast food, a chunk of fresh white bread filled with a local Durban curry. Lamb, mutton, beans and chicken bunny chow are traditional but nowadays you also get more exotic fillings as it’s made it’s way onto some restaurant menus.