A Brief Encounter with Durban

    After all the adventures and experiences in Cape Town, I was ready to move towards my next destination, the glorious city of CVPE4998Durban. Durban was not originally in my itinerary but I had to include it at the last moment because my Big5 Safari was to start off from Durban. So I decided to come to the city a day before to spend some time there. The Durban Airport is a little farther from the main city but there are multiple ways to get to the heart of the city. Taxis and again, Uber is the best bet if you are looking for a comfortable and easy transfer. It took me about 25 minutes and cost me 260 Rand (13£). A cheaper but time taking mode of transport is the King Shaka Airport Shuttle Service where the buses run between the airport, Durban city centre (and other destinations on demand) and costs about 80 Rand(4£).

    IMG_3113Durban is a city where I as an Indian, was definitely not a rare face. Durban has the maximum number of Indian immigrants in South Africa. The lifestyle of this city was totally opposite to what I had experienced in Cape Town. It was more working-style and didn’t have much to offer for tourists. I had a host in the city but was going to be meeting her later on. I had lot of time to kill on my own and as I was dropped at the famous Durban Waterfront, I had the chance to have a proper English breakfast at a fast food restaurant called ‘WIMPY’.  Based on the little research I had done about the city, I had found out that the tourist information centre was located on the waterfront itself. One of the touristiest things one can do in Durban is getting on one of the blue and yellow tour buses called the ‘RickSaw’. It only operates at given times of the day and I happened to miss my bus. I didn’t have time to wait for the next one so I decided to explore the city on my own. I collected the details about the places which the RickSaw covers and decided to use the public transport to visit them. The tour bus costs around 160 Rand (8£) but the public transport buses cost 17 Rand (0.80£) only for an all-day ticket. I put both the maps together and tried to navigate the tour bus route by myself, using public transport. This way it was cheaper and I Durbangot a better idea about the bus operations within the city.

    After dropping my bags at my host’s place, I took an Uber to go to the famous local market known as the ‘Victoria Market’. The Uber driver was nice enough to come up with special suggestions about places to visit. He mentioned a place called ‘uShaka’ saying, “that’s where most tourists go”. I had no clue about the place but I asked him to take me there instead. Ushaka was a one-in-all sort of a junction where one could enjoy a water park as well as diverse African adventures such as shark diving, penguin feeding, witnessing dolphins, etc. There were a variety of restaurants and shops too so it was a wonderful place to chill out. As far as I saw, other than a few other things which the city has to offer, UShaka was the most important tourist attraction since it offered everything at one place. I spent three hours there, watching an assortment of stuff such as the African Seal Show, the Penguin Show and an amazing Dolphin Show. The combined ticket of these shows cost about 165 Rand (8£). The shows are time-based so you might want to check out the show timings before you plan to go there.  I might be exaggerating this but that day felt like my hottest day in South Africa. It was burning hot at about 34 degrees so I decided to sit down and have a beer in the famous face painted Moyo Bar on the beach.

     

    The Moyo Bar was located on the end of the beach bridge of the sea and gave a perfect view of the city. As I sat on a corner seat sipping my chilled beer, I watched the surfers challenge the waves on the beach front. Durban is a city famous for surfing and people come here all year long to learn the sport. It was quiet and I sat there watching the long stretched beach and the towering buildings facing each other. This trip had been long and incredibly hectic and I knew that I had a lot left to cover after this. I was trying to clear my head while letting the soothing sound of crashing of sea waves wash over me. I tried to push back what I had done till now in order to be able to think about what I will be doing the next day. Right then, my usual sense of achievement took over my head and I had a smug smile on my face. I closed my eyes and thought about the trip which I had been dreaming of, all these years. The trip was finally a reality and I was sitting in Durban sipping cold beer and thinking about my life. What a wonderful reality!

    It was finally evening and I had a few more things to cover in the city itinerary but I took off my shoes, picked them up in my hand and started walking on the beach towards the centre of the city. I walked from one end of the beach to another and it took me two whole hours. It was indeed the best thing that I did in Durban and helped me rejuvenate myself. Walking on the beach is one of DEKZ7515the best experiences for sure. I remember doing the same in Goa (India) a few years ago and that had been a memorable experience as well.

    The entire city of Durban is somehow centric to that beach front and that is worth it because of it’s incredibly beauty. You can hire a bike (cycle) to have a wonderful ride across the beach front with cool wind blowing against your skin and a pleasant temperature to enjoy. There are many reasons why one should definitely spend a day at the Durban Beach front if you are in the city. It gives you picture postcard views, it’s basically an outdoor gym, all the locals come out for running and jogging on the beach front as the sun goes down and it’s just the perfect place to do so.  It’s a long beach full of greenery and the ideal place to hang out in tiny beach cafes (located throughout the beach).  Food, drinks, sports, music and everything else which you might need is available within a walking distance. Life seems to be much more relaxed in Durban with no one running around, no traffic and the fascinating local crowd. You can also take a Rickshaw ride along the beach front. A rickshaw ride has a man dressed in traditional makeup (which makes them stand out) pulling a rickshaw.

    I stayed in a shared house where the people were extremely nice and caring. Other than the places I had already visited, my new IMG_3305friends suggested visiting the Moses Machida Stadium which was built during world cup but now lies empty. There are bungee jumping opportunities available there if you would like to try it out. Although I was in Durban for only one day and night, it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my South Africa trip. I was told that there are only two clubs in Durban since most of the people are working class and bar-hopping is not a common idea.

    I will be talking about the popular ‘Classic Wild Safari’ in my next post. Hope you have been enjoying my South Africa Series.

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