Durban and its surrounding areas have hundreds of neighborhoods, townships, villages, suburbs, and beaches. The population is about 3.5 million. Yesterday, I joined a city tour of Durban’s more notable attractions. It was difficult taking photos in a bumpy moving vehicle – maybe after 8 months of travel, I’m becoming a bit weary…
Central Durban has interesting museums, monuments, markets, galleries, and theaters. Political and historical sites provide detail about Zulu ancestry and the apartheid era. My favorite building, City Hall, is a magnificent Edwardian neo-baroque structure!
“The most prominent part of Durban is called The Golden Mile, a stretch of beach where sunbathers, surfers, and bodybuilders gather.”
Beaches, Beaches, Beaches…
- Addington – surfers
- Durban Kite – famous for kite-surfing
- eThekwini, Laguna – more secluded
- Blue Lagoon – for fishing near the Umgeni River
These beaches are popular surfing, body boarding, and kite surfing locations near the bluff overlooking Durban Harbor:
Neighborhoods, Townships, Suburbs
The Durban City Tour began at the beach along The Golden Mile and proceeded through some of Durban’s major areas:
- North and North Central – Umhlanga, Durban North
- Outer and Inner West – Botha’s Hill, Assagay, Hillcrest
- South and South Central – Amanzimtoti
Today, some of Durban’s most popular “places to be” include:
Station Drive Precinct – once a “no go” neighborhood near city centre – was transformed into a “hip” area where “light industrial meets residential”.
There are craft breweries, restaurants, and clothing designers. Morning Trade Market is held every Sunday. Station Drive “collaborative-style work spaces” are becoming popular all over Durban. The Foundry includes a renovated clothing factory which is “a creative hub with floors of workshops, studios, and offices”.
Rivertown District, an “inner-city revival project, reignited neglected spaces in the central business district”. Formerly a warehouse, 8 Morrison Street has innovative “office pods” with flexible workspaces. It’s a creative hub for startups, entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, and photographers. The district hosts a monthly food and craft market. Rivertown Shed and Beerhall is a popular venue for bands, openings, conferences, and creative competitions.
Morningside is one of my favorite neighborhoods. It’s near the beaches and known for “hip” Florida Road. This leafy street has restored Victorian and Edwardian buildings, and a variety of restaurants, pubs, coffee houses, art galleries, and shops.
Morningside is also home to The African Art Centre and Burman Bush Nature Reserve. Burman Bush is 136 acres of indigenous forest along the Umgeni River. It’s a great place to explore the local flora and fauna. Another nature reserve near the Umgeni River is the La Lucia and Beachwood Mangroves Nature Reserve, an excellent place for trail walking. Virginia Bush Nature Reserve and Giba Gorge are also on my hiking list.
“Since the 2010 World Cup, areas in and around Durban central have undergone significant urban regeneration.”
North Beach is a popular area with “its own atmosphere, including the smells of chicken tikka cooking at Pakistani restaurants, salt from the sea, and pineapples from vendors along the ocean”. There are shops and restaurants, a skate park, and a great seaside promenade between Moses Mabhida Stadium to UShaka Marine World.
Umhlanga Rocks is the “upmarket” part of Durban. It’s a holiday village filled with pricey hotels, a beach promenade, lighthouse, and a mix of Durban’s best restaurants.
Townships – the “cultural soul” of South Africa, Durban’s largest townships include Umlazi, Inanda, and KwaMashu. KwaMashu is known for its “lively performing arts scene – Maskandi, hip hop, pansula dancing, drama, and football (soccer)”. KwaMashu township its own community radio station and popular eKhaya Multi Arts Centre for Arts and Performance.
Inanda is known for its Heritage Trail and being the home of:
- John Langalibalele Dube’s Ohlange Institute – first president of the African National Congress (ANC)
- Phoenix Settlement, a residence/base for Mahatma Gandhi’s operations
- Syncretic Nazareth Baptist Church
- Inanda Seminary School – one of South Africa’s oldest girls schools
- In 1994 from Inanda, Nelson Mandela cast his vote in the first democratic election
Leaving Durban December 1 for the Seychelles Mahé Island, but will be back again in January 2018. Although I’ve spent almost a month here in Durban, it seems like I’ve barely scratched the surface. There’s much more to learn about the area. It takes time to understand a new place – at least it does for me. The tropical climate and weather have been volatile, never boring – steaming hot one day, cool and stormy with wild skies, thunder and lightning the next. I’ll have refined my Durban “must see” list when I return in January, and am looking forward to more exploration then. During December, I’m prepared to become a Seychelles beach bum!