You've arrived in Durban, and immediately been greeted with gorgeous white sand beaches, the unmistakable smell of the sea, and a distinctive vibe that is as relaxed as it is enthusiastic. You've spent a thrilling day at Ushaka Marine World, careening down the twists and turns of waterslides and rides (the Wet 'n' Wild section of the path is home to the highest slide south of the equator), and watching the exciting dolphin shows at the largest aquarium in the Southern Hemisphere. But you were surrounded by tourists and that got you wondering, what do the locals do in Durban.
Love the outdoors? Love not having to spend a cent? Why don't you have both?
Then venture out to the Durban beachfront that rivals those of any riviera in the world. With golden sands that go on for ages and the Indian Ocean providing comfortably warm water all year round, it provides the added bonus of being a surfer's delight. The beachfront includes a bustling promenade, skate park and doesn't require the opening of a wallet or purse. While you're there, make sure you look out for the sand castle artists who create incredible temporary sculptures.
Got a craving for curry or fancy yourself some roti?
Take a walk through Victoria Street Market! What sets Durban apart from other South African cities is the proliferation of the Indian culture (the population of Indian residents in Durban is second only to India itself). You know what that means! Excellent Indian food – authentic and plentiful, Durban is a haven for those who have an affinity for the cuisine. Go curry crazy! Besides an excellent curry, the city is also home to bunny chow, affectionately known as a bunny, where a loaf of bread is hollowed out and filled with a variety of curries, with fillings for omnivores and vegetarians alike.
Instead of unwinding at a bar...
Try an evening at the Durban Botanic Gardens for the 'Music at the Lake' live concert series which occur during warmer weather. Featuring the very best of local and international acts, this pastime is a favourite among locals. The Gardens were originally developed in 1849, and boast the title of the oldest surviving botanical gardens in Africa, featuring both indigenous and exotic plants. Breathe in the smell of the flowers as the music weaves through the balmy air into the dark. The best part of this night out in a beautiful setting? It will only cost you the price of a dinner at a local restaurant. What's not to like!
You've saved on your hotel...
So take a tour of Shakaland, a Zulu cultural village and an open-air museum, driving distance from Durban. If you stay overnight in one of the hand woven beehive huts (with en-suite bathrooms, never fret), you can partake in the Shaka Programme where you will experience the zulu way of life, from an hour of dancing after dinner to a beer drinking ceremony with the chief and his wives to discovering the secrets of the Sangomas (South African traditional healers). At the Shisha Nyama restaurant you will feast on a local Zulu and South African buffet spread – they are even prepared in three-legged cauldrons on an open fire!
For those looking to leave the city in exchange for day trips, hire a car and head out on safari to Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve. It is home to South Africa’s 'Big Five' as well as many other African natives. Hluhluwe is the oldest game reserve in Africa, and is approximately a pleasant two and a half hour drive – did someone say road trip? You'll pass nearby kraals (small Zulu villages) where you're bound to see traditional huts. Just make sure to watch out for local herders leading their cattle across the road.
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