Durban is the biggest city in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. It is also the second most significant manufacturing centre in the country, aside from Johannesburg. Durban is also renowned for being the busiest port in the continent, and is seen as one of the major tourist centres because of the city’s beautifully warm subtropical climate and vast golden beaches.
1. uShaka Marine World
One of the world’s biggest aquariums at 40 acres, it includes the ‘Wet ‘n Wild’ water park and Village Walk Shopping Centre. The aquarium’s animal experiences encourage sustainable use of the ocean environment. Here, you can sign up for the Ocean Walker, during which you wear a tethered breathing helmet and slowly bounce along the bottom of the Open Ocean Exhibit which has a variety of stingrays and fish species, including tuna, dorado, and sardines. You could also step inside a clear, enclosed cylinder and drop into the massive shark tank as part of the Shark Diving Experience, for which no diving experience is required.
2. The ‘Golden Mile’
Named after the golden sandy beaches that line the edges of the city’s central business district, the well-known ‘Golden Mile’ stretches around 6.5 kilometres from the Blue Lagoon through to Addington Beach and Durban Harbour. A broad, brick-paved promenade makes it a joy to spend time here walking, jogging, or biking along the route. You can take plenty of little detours onto the piers to watch surfers battle the majestic ocean waves, kite boarders showing off their talents, or to simply enjoy the warm Indian Ocean breeze. Take part in the eco-active Bike & Saddle for a guided biking tour in the morning along the scenic Mile. The fee for this includes bike and helmet hire, as well as a delicious pastry and coffee breakfast.
3. The Botanical Gardens
Established in 1849, Africa’s oldest surviving Botanical Gardens contains one of the top collections of ‘living fossil plants’ in the world. These pre-dinosaur cycads, which are seed-producing plants that date back around 250 million years, are currently facing possible extinction in the wild. The Wood’s Cycad species is named after botanist and founding curator of the Durban Botanical Gardens, John Medley Wood, who in 1895 discovered a single surviving cycad plant in a forest in Zululand. Wandering through the Botanical Gardens’ cycad forest is simply magical. The pink-backed pelicans amongst the trees only serve to add to this dense garden’s sense of wonder.
Image courtesy of Durban Botanical Gardens
4. TALA Private Game Reserve
This is a wildlife conservancy concealed in the gorgeous hills of a peaceful farming community located just an hour outside the city of Durban. The park has an eclectic mixture of acacia thorn veld, vast grasslands and dense wetland that makes for exquisite game and bird watching, which provides incredible photographic opportunities. The reserve contains around 380 bird species and big game, which includes rhino, wildebeests, bok, warthogs, hippos and giraffes. The sanctuary itself extends over 7,400 acres of African bushveld. Embark on an excellent guided walk, or ride with a ranger on a thrilling game drive.