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Travel guide – Durban

  • South Africa
  • Durban
  • 105.4 km²
  • 11°C, Wind
  • GMT +2
  • Rand
  • English
  • 2.211 million
  • Always enjoyed my stay with Hilton Hotel and Resorts, top class room service and rooms have great outside views and luxury assessories. Thanks for great experience.

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    Jessica Brown
  • Always enjoyed my stay with Hilton Hotel and Resorts, top class room service and rooms have great outside views and luxury assessories. Thanks for great experience.

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    Lisa Kimberly
  • Always enjoyed my stay with Hilton Hotel and Resorts, top class room service and rooms have great outside views and luxury assessories. Thanks for great experience.

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    Simon

General Information About Durban

Top attractions

Bush, beaches, mountains Choose one of Durban’s popular beaches with amenities galore plus superb surfing, or make your way north or south along the coast. Sodwana Bay is a diving and fishing mecca. Inland, you’ll find the impressive Drakensberg mountains, which offer numerous recreational amenities for fly-fishers, hikers, horse-riders and holidaymakers, while in the northern part of the province there are several world-class game reserves.

Main city

Durban The laid-back but busy city of Durban is South Africa’s third-largest city. It’s Africa’s largest port, one of South Africa’s favourite seaside destinations (‘Durbs’ to the locals), and an exciting mix of urban Zulu culture, a huge Indian population and English-speaking South Africans.

Overview

South Africa’s third-smallest province, KwaZulu-Natal is also one of its most exciting – it has a wealth of scenic and cultural attractions that include the country’s most developed beaches south and north of Durban, as well as isolated, almost untouched beaches; world-famous game reserves; two UNESCO World Heritage Sites; and some of the South Africa’s most famous historic battlefields. The richly diverse province stretches along the warm Indian Ocean from Port Edward in the south to Swaziland and Mozambique in the north. The coast has a subtropical climate all year round. In the west of the province you’ll find South Africa’s most magnificent mountains, the Drakensberg, in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, a World Heritage Site. Inland, the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands offer a lush, green countryside brimming with historical little towns, attractive country hotels and irresistible craft routes. KwaZulu-Natal is also where battles that captured the world’s attention took place in the 1800s and early 1900s, when Boers and Brits battled Zulus, and Boers battled Brits. In the interior, north of Durban, among other smaller game parks and superb private Big Five game reserves, is the iconic Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, your best chance of spotting black and white rhino. Further north up the coast is the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its ecosystems that brim with game and marine life. The province has an excellent infrastructure, with good roads, fine accommodation and a wide selection of restaurants. It's main airport is King Shaka International Airport, about 35km north of Durban.
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Sports Played in Durban

Durban is home to the world famous Rugby team, the "Sharks", with their training grounds opposite the World Soccer cup stadium "Moses Mabhida". Sports played in Durban include Rugby, Soccer, Cricket, Surfing, Canoeing, cycling and more.

About Rugby Games

Rugby is a team sport that delivers significant social and health benefits. It can also be a physically demanding sport and players should be physically and mentally prepared, and understand how to play safely. It is the responsibility of all - players, coaches and parents - to ensure that a positive, safe, enjoyable environment is created where ALL players will be able to reach their fullest potential, and that – whatever form of the game you play - the training and education materials and equipment are there to support everyone in creating that environment. Beach Rugby is a fun game that can be played with a minimal amount of resources and equipment. The game is a fast-moving one suitable for boys and girls of all ages to play together, in which tags are worn and removed for the ‘tackle’. The game is fast-paced and exciting, but because it is played on sand, there are some differences to the conventional game of Tag Rugby. Tag rugby is a non-contact, fast-moving game that is suitable for adults or children, and for boys and girls to play together. Its safe, non-contact nature makes it ideal for youngsters coming into the game. Tag belts or tag shorts replace tackling. Teams are seven-a-side with a preferred gender mix of at least three men and women playing at one time. The basic rules include: No contact, but mouthguard advisable No kicking of any kind When a tag is made, the tagger stops running, holds the tag above their head and shouts “TAG!” When the ball-carrier is tagged, the ball must be passed to a team mate within three seconds. Competitive matches should not be more than seven-a-side.

Durban Culture and History

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Culture

The cultural calendar in Zululand has particular ceremonies of interest to visitors who can attend one of these events as part of a guided tour. If you visit the town of Eshowe in February, then you can witness a festival known as the 'first fruits ceremony', which was done by early Zulu kings. This particular event is held by a local sangoma (traditional healer) who goes by the name of Khekhekhe and involves poisonous snakes. Khekhekhe (whose birth name was Zizwezonke Mthuthwa) lives in a homestead close to the Tugela River and invites fellow sangomas to attend this event, which takes place on 23 February every year. During the ceremony he handles the snakes, even putting their heads in his mouth, and tells the story of how Chief Dingiswayo (Shaka Zulu's mentor) gained power over snakes as a young man. Khekhekhe, who has 14 wives, is the driving force behind a tourism initiative to get foreigners to experience rural Zululand and African spirituality. He also has a local transport and bus business. Visitors to Zululand in September can also sign up to attend another Zulu festival of note. This is the Zulu Reed Dance that takes place in September at the royal palace of King Goodwill Zwelithini, where thousands of young Zulu women gather to celebrate the custom of retaining their virginity before marriage. If you visit the town of Eshowe between 15 and 31 October, you can also attend a gathering of the Shembe, a religious group which gathers in the thousands at a town called Judea at this time of the year. On Saturdays they hold traditional prayer dances and on Sundays they observe a day of prayer with an emphasis on traditional dress, dance, singing and the blowing of the Horns of Jericho.

History

Archaeological evidence from the Drakensberg mountains suggests that the Durban area has been inhabited by communities of hunter-gatherers since 100,000 BC. These people lived throughout the area of present-day KwaZulu-Natal until the expansion of Bantu farmers and pastoralists from the north saw their gradual displacement, incorporation or extermination. Little is known of the history of the first residents, as there is no written history of the area until it was sighted by Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, who sailed parallel to the KwaZulu-Natal coast at Christmastide in 1497 while searching for a route from Europe to India. He named the area "Natal", or Christmas in Portuguese. First European settlers The modern city of Durban dates from 1824, when a party of 25 men under British Lieutenant F. G. Farewell arrived from the Cape Colony and established a settlement on the northern shore of the Bay of Natal, near today's Farewell Square. Accompanying Farewell was an adventurer named Henry Francis Fynn. Fynn was able to befriend the Zulu King Shaka by helping him to recover from a stab wound he suffered in battle. As a token of Shaka's gratitude, he granted Fynn a "30-mile [50 km] strip of coast a hundred miles [160 km] in depth." During a meeting of 35 European residents in Fynn's territory on 23 June 1835, it was decided to build a capital town and name it "d'Urban" after Sir Benjamin d'Urban, then governor of the Cape Colony.
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Landscape

KwaZulu-Natal offers the visitor an interaction of natural wonders, modern facilities, fascinating cultures and a rich history - in a breathtakingly beautiful landscape with a variety of settings. The Drakensberg Park and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park near St Lucia are the 2 Heritage sites. The primary reserves are Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, Ithala Game Reserve, Mkuze Game Reserve and Tembe Elephant Park plus the private reserves of Phinda and those in the Pongola, Empangeni and Hluhluwe areas. Durban is the gateway to this unique holiday destination.

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve

Two of Africa's oldest game reserves (1895) and the linking Corridor Reserve makes up 96 000 ha Park where the 'Big 5' and others, like the elusive Cheetah, as well as an abundance of birdlife is to be seen.

Itala Game Reserve

Overlooking the Pongola River valley in the rugged, mountainous thornveld of Northern KwaZulu Natal, with diverse geological diversity, Itala offers a wildlife experience second to none.

Thendele - Drakensberg Park

Thendele camp is situated in one of the most picturesque settings in the Royal Natal Park in the Drakensberg with a view of the world famous amphitheatre from every chalet.

Durban

Africa's principal port and one of South Africa's principal holiday destinations, with miles of beautiful beaches and hundreds of other activities and attractions, this is definitely holiday country.

Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park

Great open spaces in a world of gigantic peaks and butresses, a world of towering sandstone cliffs and hidden valleys, of priceless virgin forests and crystal clear rivers, of rolling hills and grasslands.

Beaches

The warm Indian Ocean and wonderful beaches made KwaZulu Natal into one of the most popular tourist destinations in South Africa.

Durban Nightlife

The buzz in Florida road starts in the early morning when the sidewalk cafes on Florida Road in Durban form the meeting point for friends, colleagues and shoppers alike. The energy continues throughout the day and well into the night, when the street’s clubs and bars come to life, earning Florida Road its reputation as one of Durban’s top night spots.

Feel the electric street vibe and unique, historic architecture on Florida Road as you explore a range of restaurants, galleries, boutiques, studios and bars. Florida Road has definitely earned its reputation as one of the city's trendiest streets, where people gather to shop, eat, drink, meet and enjoy Durban’s seemingly endless summer.

Stretching from Sandile Thusi Road to Innes Road, there are dozens of carefully preserved historic buildings, including typical Edwardian structures that are more than 100 years old.

It’s a feast for the soul as most of the restaurants on this road are among Durban’s best-loved. Some well-known establishments are the Mexican inspired Taco Zulu, Europa Food Emporium and House of Curries, where you can take a bite out of the Indian cuisine that Durban is famous for.

Vicky Christina's, opposite Mitchell Park at the top of Florida Road, is a good spot for afternoon drinks and cocktails that turn into dinner or you can try Mamma's for exquisitely prepared Italian fair. Whatever your desire you won’t be starved for choice as there are more than 30 exceptional restaurants to choose from.

When the kitchens close, the bars and clubs come to life. Florida Road offers options for most tastes so choose between the laid-back and sophisticated or the loud and proud party vibes at venues that stay open until the early hours of the morning. Remember to take the same precautions as you would when you are out late in any big city.

Boutiques like Gorgeous and The Smoke Shop are a must-visit for fashion lovers, offering a wide variety of clothing to choose from including collections from some of South Africa’s best designers.

Art lovers can explore the African Art Centre, the Artisan Contemporary Gallery and the Elizabeth Gordon Gallery on Florida Road. There are also salons like Africare, where you can indulge in pampering spa treatments.

Like the vibrant city of Durban itself, Florida Road is constantly evolving, so while you may not always know what to expect, you can rest assured that it will be well worth the trip.

DID YOU KNOW? The first municipal tramline in South Africa was laid in Florida Road and used on 12 September 1892, with horses providing the motive power.

Popular Bars in Durban

 
Spiga Dora
Florida Road - Morningside
 
Circus Circus
Beach Promenade - North Beach
 
Lighthouse Bar
Umhlanga Beach Promenade - Umhlanga
 
Oyster Box
Oyster Box Hotel - Umhlanga

Popular Restaurants In Durban

 
Catch
Chartwell Drive - Umhlanga
 
Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills Hotel - Umhlanga
 
Jack Samon
Glenore Centre - Glen Ashley/La Lucia
 
Mama Luciano's
Glenore Centre - Glen Ashley/La Lucia

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aha Royal Palm Gateway Hotel
Kwazulu Natal(KZN) South Africa

0 reviews

This luxury apartment hotel boasts spacious apartments and suites featuring carpeted floors and dimmer lights. Each unit comes with a balcony, a luxurious bathroom with amenities and free Wi-Fi.

avg/nightR3200.00 SELECT
6% Discount

Oyster Box
Kwazulu Natal(KZN) South Africa

0 reviews

The rooms at the 5-star Oyster Box are decorated with rich fabrics and furnishings. They include satellite TV, Mini Bar facilities and tea/coffee making facilities. Some guest rooms offer a private lounge area, patio and plunge pool.

avg/nightR3999.00 SELECT
9% Discount

The Benjamin Hotel
Kwazulu Natal(KZN) South Africa

0 reviews

Overlooking the garden, Benjamin’s breakfast room offers a breakfast buffet daily. A variety of restaurants and pubs are within walking distance. The Moses Mabida Stadium, The Mr Price Stadium and Suncoast Casino are within 5 km by car from The Benjamin.

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The Pearls
Kwazulu Natal(KZN) South Africa

0 reviews

Located in Umhlanga's golden coast, The Pearls of Umhlanga has luxurious and modern apartments with sea views. The resort has direct access to the beach, a large salt water pool and a baby pool.

avg/nightR3599.00 SELECT

Zimbali Resort
Kwazulu Natal(KZN) South Africa

0 reviews

One of our top picks in Ballito.This property is 5 minutes walk from the beach. Located within the exclusive Zimbali Coastal Resort eco-estate, situated 50 km north of Durban, the Fairmont Zimbali Resort is a tranquil retreat offering the utmost in stylish comfort and excellent service.

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Drakensberg Tour 30/10/2016 - 31/12/9999

per personR3100.00
  • Highest Pub in Africa
  • Enter a Basotho hut
  • Horse Ride
  • Lunch

Durban City Tour 30/10/2016 - 31/12/9999

per personR1200.00
  • City Tour In 6 Hours
  • Private Guide to downtown
  • Enjoy World Famous Restaurant
  • Top attractions

Durban Night Tour 02/05/2017 - 31/12/9999

per personR1550.00
  • Night Life in Downtown
  • Scenic drive of Durban
  • Sundowners on rooftop
  • Mix with locals

Shakaland 02/05/2017 - 31/12/9999

per personR2450.00
  • Zulu Cultural Experience
  • Largest Zulu kraal
  • Buffet Lunch
  • Zulu dancers

Tala Game Reserve 05/11/2016 - 31/12/9999

per personR2400.00
  • Game drive
  • Zulu Village visit
  • Phezulu Safari Park
  • 8 Hours