Cape Town – With an abundance of marine and floral life coupled with a rich and diverse cultural history and rejuvenated cityscape, Durban is a platform for a plethora of water activities, city adventures and nature escapes.
The best part about exploring what the coastal city offers is that it can be done with family and friends, and is open to people of all ages and backgrounds.
Here’s what you can get up to this festive season:
Explore east coast marine life at uShaka
uShaka Marine World is certainly one of Durban’s prime attractions, boasting a number of activities and unique experiences – including the highest water slide in Africa.
With an 18-metre drop that is almost perpendicular, this slide is not for those who fear heights – and remember, one who embraces this slide is not secured with any protective cables or seats!
ALSO SEE: SA's Big 5 adventures for adrenaline junkies
Apart from this insane slide and numerous other rides at the Wet ‘n Wild water park, families can make day trips out of a visit to the marine park and check out the following offerings: visit Sea World for dolphin and seal shows, penguin presentations, shark dives and more; pop into Dangerous Creatures to learn more about reptiles; experience the new rope adventure park, Chimp & Zee; visit Sea Animal Encounters Island to snorkel or go shark cage diving; spoil the little ones at Kids World; chill at uShaka’s beach, shop at Village Walk and dine at one of the many eateries situated at the park.
Where: 1 King Shaka Avenue, Durban.
When: Click here for rates and times.
Cost: From R140 per person. Tickets can be bought on the website or the at the entrance gates. Click here for more information.
Feel like a giant at Mini Town
Established over 30 years ago, Mini Town gives an impression of some of Durban's landmarks in a 1:24 scale.
See models of some of Durban’s most interesting buildings, a rail network with moving trains, an airport with airplanes, and even a tug and ship traveling around the harbour. Mini Town can be enjoyed and its detail appreciated by family members of all ages.
Where: Snell Parade, Durban.
When: The weekends are the best times to visit. Call 031 337 7892 for more information about exact opening dates and times during the festive season.
Cost: R15 adults and R10 for children age 2-12.
Ice skate in summer
The recently re-launched Durban Ice Rink is one of warm coastal city’s iconic recreational facilities, offering a space for all ages to enjoy a day out.
Ice skate any time of year with public ice skating sessions, attend ice shows and special events, sign up for ice hockey lessons and ice skating or figure skating lessons. Click here for more information on the festive season event line-up.
Where: Corner Somsteu Road 81 and Sylvestor Ntuli Road, Durban.
When: Click here for public ice skating session times and prices.
Cost: From R50 per person for entry. Prices vary for entry with or without skates. Click here for the full prices list. To buy tickets for festive season special shows, click here.
Get lost in floral beauty
Currently the oldest surviving botanic garden on the African continent, the Durban Botanic Gardens is the City's oldest public institution having been developed in 1849 as a botanic station for the trial of agricultural crops.
The Gardens now focuses on biodiversity, education, heritage, research, horticultural excellence and green innovation. It offers a spectacular venue for nature enthusiasts and families alike to spend quality time spotting the flora the region has to offer, enjoying picnics and attending events which the Gardens is famous for hosting ever so often.
A not-to-be-missed event at Durban Botanic Gardens this holiday is the Festive Trail of Lights, which takes place from 17-24 December at 18:30 – 21:30, featuring a kids’ Activity Garden, Christmas carols by the Umlazi Children’s Gospel Choir and many more family activities. Click here for more information.
Where: 9A John Zikhali Road, Musgrave in Durban,
When: Open 365 days a year at 07:30 – 17:15 from 16 September - 15 April, and 07:30 – 17:30 from 16 April - 15 September. Orchid house is open from 09:00 – 17:00. Click here for more information.
Get active at Moses Mabhida Stadium
Built for football games and used for so much more, Moses Mabhida Stadium says that it will take its visitors’ “Durban experience to new heights”.
Most famously known for the Big Rush Big Swing, the stadium offers a number of activities to appease various travellers and is suitable for families too. In fact, with the number of things to do available, families can make a day-trip out of this.
Get to the top of the stadium’s arch with the SkyCar, go on a stadium tour, experience a Segway gliding tour, try out the adventure walk, pop into the visitor centre and be sure to stay updated on events happening at People’s Park.
Where: 44 Isaiah Ntshangase Road, Durban.
When: Click here to view each activity’s rates and times.
Cost: Varies based on each activity. Click here to view each activity’s rates and times.
Indulge in Durb’s rich theatre scene
Durban is renowned for its rich and vibrant theatre culture, with an array of musicals, dramas, dance pieces, pantos and more to entertain kids, adults and people of all ages and backgrounds.
One of the family-friendly performances that’s not-to-be-missed is KickstArt Theatre’s annual festive season pantomime. This year, the theatre company has put together a glorious production of Sinbad the Sailor and takes viewers over the Seven Seas.
With colourful sets and costumes that exude the magical Arabian Nights, together with music and dance inspired by Bollywood, this is pantomime promises an enjoyable experience for the whole family.
Where: Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre.
When: 1 December 2017 – 7 January 2018. Performances at 14:30 on Tuesdays to Sundays, 19:00 on Fridays. No performances on Christmas day or New Year’s Day.
Cost: R230/R180/R150 - full price, R180/R160/R120 - children under 12 and pensioners. Bookings at Computicket or call 0861 915 8000. For more information visit www.kickstarttheatre.co.za.
Hop into a giant ball and go zorbing
Don't know what's zorbing? Well, all you have to do is hop into a large inflated ball and roll down a hill. Sounds dangerous and crazy but it’s actually quite safe and exciting.
However, if you have trust issues with objects you believe you cannot fully control, then you can also go paintballing, go-karting or dress up like a sumo wrestler and battle it out against a friend! All of this can be enjoyed in a family day-trip to GroovyBalls Adventure Park - the only zorbing park in KZN.
Where: 14 Key Ridge Road, Durban.
When: Daily, from 9:00 to 17:00.
Cost: R150 Zorbing (for 2 people) / Paintball R185 / Sumo R150 (for 2 people). Call 084 330 3112 for more information.
Watch a shark dissection
The KZN Sharks Board provides educational entertainment and fosters an appreciation for marine life and careers in the sector, by allowing visitors to enjoy audio visual presentations on the sensory biology of sharks and their role as top predators in the marine environment. This is followed by a shark dissection where one can see the internal anatomy of a shark.
Visitors may also go on a boat tour to see staff servicing the shark safety gear off Durban’s Golden Mile beaches, or pop into the museum which is home to a variety of life-like replicas of sharks, including a 892 kg great white shark.
Where: 1a Herrwood Drive, Umhlanga.
When:The KZN Sharks Board will host a festive season shark dissection show on Monday ,18 December at 09:00 and 14:00. Normal show days and times are Tuesdays – Thursdays at 09:00 and 14:00, and the first Sunday of the month at 14:00. Sunday shows are subject to change - contact office at 033 566 0400 to confirm. There are no shark dissection shows during public holidays.
Cost: 0-3 years – free entry, 4-12 years - R30 per person, 13 years and older - R50 per person, pensioners - R30 per person.
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