Durban promises a lot: Endless beaches, perfect surfing waves and summer 365 days a year. So first stop after arriving in Durban clearly is the beach to check if this city can keep up with the high expectations. Well… it most definitely can! While weather in Cape Town already appears quite winter-like, you’ll definitely get the most amazing tan in Durban. Simply enjoy a relaxed day at the beach, have a cocktail at one of the many restaurants with white soft sand between your toes and a cloudless skies. This was by far the best holiday destination I’ve come across! I’d recommend everyone to rickshaw drive along the beach to enjoy the paradise feeling to the fullest; you can even negotiate your own price.
USHAKA MARINE WORLD – ENJOYING LIFE THE TOURISTY WAY
Right next to the beach there is uShaka Marine World, claiming to be Africa’s No. 1 theme park and offers unlimited fun. How could I not test this? In fact, this theme park has plenty of different activities to offer: a water park with the highest water slide in Africa, diverse sea animal encounters, snorkeling, sea world shows, aquariums, rope adventures and a lot of shopping! Since I’m not that much into sea world shows and would rather do certain encounters like shark cage diving in the open sea than in an enclosure, the best option for me seems to check out the aquarium, dangerous creatures and – of course – the shopping mall. Entering the aquarium starts with a huge boom – the real skeleton of a whale. I did not expect that and was super impressed!
All in all, there are lot of animals to see in uShaka Marine World Aquarium: Sharks, jellyfish, manta rays, sea horses, turtles and more. But what really makes this place so enjoyable is its presentation – it really makes you feel like being on board of a huge submarine and creates a nice under water atmosphere.
The whole theme park is arranged very caressingly and convinces with its love for detail. It is a very touristy, but colourful place with a lot of activities to offer for almost every taste. I for example think the penguin feed is super cute and feeding a manta or a turtle was absolutely fun to do. There still are so many other options – meeting dolphins and seals are just two examples of the countless things to do there.
I highly recommend taking a short browse through “Dangerous Creatures”, an exhibition of various reptiles and other not so fluffy animals, which is located inside the mall. Prepare for one or two funny pranks that will give you the creeps! And after having lunch at one of the countless restaurants and snack bars around here, go and have a dessert at Granny’s Fudge Shop! So many different flavours of fudge that it will be hard to decide which one to taste – and every single one are mouth-watering. Trust me: You do not want to miss this fudge!
QUEEN VICTORIA’S MARKET – A LITTLE BIT OF CULTURE
After spending half a day on the very touristy side of Durban, I felt like digging a bit deeper into the daily life of this city. Durban is home to the largest population of Indians outside of India and the cultural influence therefore is quite strong. One of the best places to delve into this influence is supposed to be Queen Victoria’s Street Market, known as a must do shopping experience around Durban and a still existing connection of the city’s historic ties to India.
I experienced Queen Victoria’s Street Market as a crowded, fast-paced and vibrant place. It is busy, colourful and loud – and therefore, exactly what I expected an Indian Market to be! The offer is quite wide-spread: You get anything from clothes, jewelry , shoes and accessories to spices, fruit, vegetables, meat (dead AND alive) and fish to toys, DVD’s, CD’s and souvenirs. Basically everything, even things you can’t really figure out what it is.
The market has a very special and quite unique atmosphere and allows you to purchase some super convenient bargains. I decided to go for the food and was really convinced. Queen Victoria’s Street Market is a nice place to try typical South African desserts, like for example a fresh baked snowball or Koeksister. Or pop into one of the many Indian takeaways along the street and get what I would proudly call the best Indian food I’ve ever had so far. I was craving for a usual curry with rice so bad, but apparently Durban is THE best place to try a bunny chow, which is basically just curry too, but served in a hollowed out loaf of bread. Sounds delicious! After one or two hours of looking around, I leave the Indian market without any purchase, but with a full stomach.
I slowly make my way back to the hostel, checking out the city center. I heard some hostels propose really interesting inner city tour and surf initiation. Maybe you should check out? I think that Durban is a nice place where you can easily spend two days without being bored. On the other hand, I do get that most people may not really feel the very touristy atmosphere of this city. So, are you going to like Durban or not? It depends – are you rather searching for the rural scenic beauty of Africa? Then you can easily just use it as a compulsory stop-over and spend no more than only a night without any regrets. Do you from time to time need a bit of shopping and some city flavour? Then rather spend a day or two – I myself definitely loved it!