Durban, South Africa’s third city, is a lively place that has much to commend it to the holiday maker.
It succeeds on many levels: it is a South Africa’s largest working port, as well as a surfers’ paradise; an industrial hub, as well an important cricket and rugby venue; it stages major conferences, and has a enormous new marine park; it’s an Indian city, with mosques, temples, spice bazaars, and also a Zulu city – check out the African Art Centre in Tourist Junction, the BAT Centre off Victoria Embankment and take a tour into KwaMashu township.
Durban began its life as a British city, Port Natal, founded nearly two hundred years ago. One visible legacy is the Victorian town hall surrounded by palm trees. The result is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with a rich cultural heritage. There are enough museums here to keep you going for a few days, including the fascinating Kwa Muhle Museum, which is devoted to the 19th and 20th century history of Durban in colonial and apartheid times.
The promenade, with its rickshaws, eateries and street vendors, is a great place to pass the evening, but Durban also has plenty of night life – move on to bars like Billy the Bum’s in Morningside or dance the night away at Cool Runnings or Joe Kool’s near the beachfront.
The South Coast is a 160-kilometre seaside strip stretching from Durban to Port Elizabeth. It has some great beaches and, since it is usually warm and sunny in the winter months, it enjoys a better year-round climate than the beaches of the Western Cape.
There are faded holiday resorts with names like Ilfracombe, Margate and Ramsgate. Between them, there is some fine scenery in this hilly region, with brightly flowering trees, sugar cane fields and banana plantations.
Diving is excellent at Aliwal Shoal, about half an hour’s drive from Durban; and there are several golf courses. It a good place for a few days relaxation.