Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Durban, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa

Durban, South Africa

By Sharon Van Biljon

Durban is situated along the East Coast of South Africa, in the province of Kwazulu Natal. This beautiful city is a melting pot of cultures and nations  who have journeyed from across the world. The tropical climate ensures that Durban has great weather all year round. The summers are hot and humid with intermittent drizzle. With temperatures in the 30 degree range, the night time drizzle that cools off the steamy city, is most welcome.
Winter day temperatures can range from 19 to 30 degrees, with a cold spell every now and then. These temperatures are experienced during the months of April, May and June (mid winter). One could easily say that Durban residents experience summer all year long with a dash of winter in between.
Beautiful endless beaches that can be compared to any in the world, stretch along this tropical coastline. This is not a place for those who are seeking a deserted beach. The beaches are always occupied by locals and visitors from across the world who flock to laze in the beating son, or enjoy the ocean.
You may locate a quiet beach outside the city, after all you have miles and miles to choose from. This fabulous coastline is well suited to holiday makers. Littered with hotels and vacation spots, there is no lack of choice for places to stay. The beach front also boasts an array of restaurants and fast food joints.

What To See and Where To Go
The Ushaka Marine World Shopping Mall is geared towards tourists and holidaymakers from up country.  Ushaka, named after the once great Zulu King Shaka, houses one of the largest marine aquariums in the world. Situated in the Point Waterfront area, Ushaka attracts crowds of visitors all year round. View the wonders of the ocean at this fabulous Seaworld. Be prepared to take your time as there is a lot to see.
Make sure you watch the dolphin show and the Sea Lion show. Both are highly entertaining. Enjoy the majesty of Gambit and his family. Gambit is one of the largest and longest surviving dolphins living in captivity in the world. They will enchant you with their amazing shows. Ushaka Seaworld also offers, penguin feeding, shark cage diving, shark feeding and underwater walking.
Take the whole family and spend the day at the fabulous Waterworld which has several pools and water slides, that range in size and height! Taking any type of refreshment into the Seaworld or Waterworld areas, is strictly forbidden and will be confiscated. The inside areas have a variety of shops and restaurants where you can buy whatever you would like to eat or drink.
Ushaka Shopping Mall includes several restaurants, coffee bars, ice cream and sweet shops, take-outs, clothing shops, handmade goods, Local and Traditional artworks and several Speciality stores.
For any food or grocery shopping there are several local supermarkets and malls in and around the city. All the large shopping malls, namely, Gateway, Pavillion, Galleria, are located outside of the city, some distance away. It is best to visit them with your own transport or someone who knows where they are going.
Wherever you go you will see street vendors that sell just about everything from fresh vegetables to flash drives. For those who are into deep sea diving, the diving club is also located in this area and there is an underwater shipwreck to explore.
The center beach front also offers a whole host of take outs, gaming areas, entertaining rides for the whole family and swimming pools. There are many areas where you can relax and enjoy a barbecue or picnic lunch at the beach. Situated at North beach is a very
popular skateboard park that is constantly frequented by the locals and visitors. This park was designed by the legendary Tony Hawk and hosts several skateboard competitions throughout the year. A little inland, relatively close to the skatebard park is the ice skating rink, open daily for children and adults.

If at any time you feel like a quiet home style meal, the Tropicana Hotel, along the beach front serves a delicious bar lunch. The meal portions are huge, inexpensive and very tasty. You can enjoy your meal inside the bar or out on the verandah. Neither are overly busy and you can eat in a relaxed atmosphere without breaking the bank.
Panorottis for Pizza and Italian food is always a hit and Ocean Basket is the place for fish and chips or seafood. The atmosphere on the verandah at Ocean Basket is especially nice. Both venues are entered from the Ushaka Centre passage.
Moyos Restaurant, situated along the beach front at Ushaka is the place to hang out, especially during holiday season. This huge restaurant sports a large open air, undercover bar as close to the beach as you can get. They often have live entertainment and become very festive. Many a beach party with dancing along the promenade spills out of Moyos.  Moyos have taken it a little further. They have even opened a restaurant and bar that is located on the very end of the pier, directly in front of beach front Moyos. So, you can enjoy Moyos on the beach or on the sea! This area has become very popular with visitors and locals alike, attracting crowds of all ages. Ushaka Beach offers surfing lessons, bike hiring, diving and paddling. Its also a great place for a swim.
The Point Waterfront area which has a combination of walkways and canals, has become popular for bikers. This whole area is slowly being revamped and is looking great.

Suncoast Casino and Hotel is located at North beach. This center is filled with restaurants and bars, some of them local hangouts with live entertainment. You can visit the Suncoast movie theatre if you are in the mood for a movie. They cater for Hollywood and Bollywood. A visit to the Casino and beach front here would not go amiss. There is always something going on.

Wahooz is a a little restaurant and bar that can be found a little further along the beach front from Ushaka. A large crowd can be found here on the weekend afternoons, often dancing to a live band. Another rather fun place to visit for some really extraordinary outdoor dance lessons!
Visit the Moses Mabida Stadium just to take a look at this fantastic feat of engineering and design. Take a ride on the Stadium cable car and enjoy the shops and restaurants at this location. The park is a wonderful place for your children to play or skateboard.

Wilsons Wharf is located close to the city, at the Durban Yacht Club. This Center is a lovely place to visit for some casual shopping, a relaxed meal or a boat ride. Pirates Arms is a local Bar/restaurant that serves tasty inexpensive meals. Fish and Chips is their speciality.
Where To Stay
Further along the beach front, Ushaka Marine World is surrounded by holiday apartments for hire. Not far from Ushaka, in Point Rd, the name of which has changed to Mahatma Ghandi Rd, you will find Backpackers, a great establishment for students and hikers from other countries. This venue seems to attract mainly a younger crowd. Along the beach front area are many hotels, self catering apartments and holiday accommodation spots. You are sure to find something that suits your pocket and tastes.  

The many hotels that are located in this area have several information brochures filled with information on what is happening in Durban and surrounding areas. These include popular nightspots, museums, restaurants, bars, gambling, markets, shows, movies, events, exhibitions and shopping. It is easy to access this information from your favorite accommodation or tourist centers located in the city and beach front areas.
Getting Around In Durban
Take a ride along the beach front promenade in a Zulu Rickshaw. These are large Zulu drawn carts, that carry two passengers. Dressed in traditional Zulu clothing, he will pull you along the promenade, often jumping up into the air and whistling, as they seem to do! This ride has been around for many years and is geared towards holiday makers. It can be great fun for those who don't feel like walking.
The Peoplemover buses are located at various points along the beach front area. They will comfortably transport you from North to South Beach and into the city. You can travel to the Suncoast Casino at North Beach and even go a little further to visit the amazing Moses Mabida Soccer Stadium. These buses will also take you along the waterfront area and to Ushaka Marine World. These buses also travel into the city and stop at various landmarks. They will take you to the famous Victoria Market, various Museums and shopping centres and back to the beach front. If you intend to visit several places, get a day pass instead of a single trip ticket. This will enable you to travel all day and get on and off the bus as many times as you like, using the same ticket. The buses run until 10pm at night.
There are also Durban Transport Services buses but they seem to be very few and they travel mostly to the outlying areas. You can also use the taxis, of which there are many moving around the city all the time. Be sure to tell the taxi driver where you want to go and make sure he is going there before getting in. Locals use this form of transport all the time. Do not take the taxis out side of the city unless you are with someone who knows where they are headed. You will also find the more top of the range taxi cab services everywhere you go. These are used mostly by tourists as they can be expensive. Always remember to check with the bus driver if they are going to your destination, if not, the bus driver will direct you to another bus.
Things not to miss
Ushaka Marine World – Must visit
Durban Bunny Chow- Durban is famous for this HOT fast food.
Durban Curry-Local Indian curry is some of the best in the world.
Zulu Dancing- Local Traditional Dancing is demonstrated at Ushaka often.
Gorimas-Indian spice and speciality store at Ushaka
Boerewors-For meat lovers, try various different flavours of this Traditional South Africa  Meat.
Well, you can certainly see that Durban is not a quiet city. The locals are friendly and you will be pleasantly surprised at the many foreigners you will find living here. Durban is one of the best places for a wonderful family vacation.

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