Durban seems to be popping up on local and international travel lists and radars more and more - often overshadowed by the likes of Cape Town and Joburg, we can't help but think all the attention is well deserved. Travel writer and map-maker Di Brown recently visited and shared this list of things to check-out when next in the city - added bonus being that they cost next to nothing.
Take a look and if you've visited recently share your favourites with us by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or post them on our Facebook, Twitter orInstagram accounts - you could be featured on News24.
Durban Botanic Gardens
Where better to find respite from the heat than in Africa’s oldest surviving Botanic Gardens in Berea. Paths wind in and out of the shade through Palms, Cycads and a section of giant trees, some of which are over 100-years-old.
Giant tree dwarfs visitors - Di Brown
The Old Slave Bell has a wonderful message that delighted me with its simple wisdom:
The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell
Just when the hand will stop; At late or early hour
Now is the only time you own. Live. Love . Toil with a will.
Place no faith in tomorrow. For then the clock may be still.
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Slave Bell in Botanic Gardens - Di Brown
The rigidity and control freakish structure of the sunken gardens, while beautiful, almost seem out of place in the free flowing layout of the rest of the gardens. Look out for the birdlife, best spotted while relaxing on a bench in the shade overlooking the lake.
The Golden Mile and warm water beaches
Kilometers of wide, paved walkways to run, skate, cycle or walk along. Stop to look at the sand sculptures, admire the colourful rickshaws and vendors, or step up your pace and walk all the way to the Umgeni River Mouth. Walk down onto the sand, get your feet wet, or dive right in, swim out, and body surf back to the shore. The water is always warm and plenty of the beaches along this route have life guards and are marked as safe for swimmers. This public space is well used and emanates a permanent holiday, carefree vibe.
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The Piers in Durban
These structures are a photographer's dream.
Start at the Ushaka Pier at Addington Beach and work your way in the direction of the stadium, stopping at New Pier, North Pier, Bay Pier, Snake Park Pier, Argyle Pier and finally Sunkist Pier. A short drive will get you to the best pier of all, Umhlanga Pier. The iconic curved railings, and adjacent lighthouse and rock pools are waiting to be explored and photographed.
The light in Durban is great, and they can be captured from endless angles. Don’t forget to get underneath them as well. If you are an early riser, or a sunset fan, you will probably find a few Instagrammers at one of the piers setting up or performing tricks and magic. For inspiration take a look at the Instagram account of Dane Foreman.
The Moses Mahbida Stadium
Standing on the ground looking up at this stadium is the only way to appreciate the gracefulness of the design and the height of the arch. It has many attractions that require payment, however, there is no charge to walk around the perimeter, watch the “SkyCar” take visitors to the top of the arch, see people having a Segway lesson before starting a tour of the facility, or admire the bronze of Moses Mahbida after whom the stadium is named. For me, the best part was looking up at the arch and knowing I would never be brave enough to spend money to climb to the top and then fling myself into the middle of the stadium while attached to a giant elastic band, commonly known as The Big Swing. I am happy to sit down below and admire the architecture, thanks.
Walk the city
Durban has great and diverse architecture and cultures, and walking the city is the best way to experience the drastic changes from one block to the next. The intricate design of the City Hall, the red bricked Emmanuel Cathedral, the ornate Jumma Mosque or the colourful Victoria Street Market. Put your walking shoes on and get into the sounds and smells of Durban at street level.
Be a culture vulture
Quite a few of the museums in Durban offer free entry, and while the Port Natal Maritime Museum is not one of them, the R5 entrance fee hardly counts as parting with hard-earned cash. Located in the harbour, it will thrill fans of shipping and all things nautical. The tourism offices have an informative brochure giving details of 17 museums, 11 of which are in central Durban.