Durban, a colorful, vibrant city located in South Africa, is more commonly known as South Africa's playground. It is also known by its Zulu name, eThikwini, which is a word with no clear origins, but is generally held to be "lagoon".
While it is considered as one of Africa's best places of holiday, Durban is also home to one of Africa's busiest ports. With a population of 3.1 million, it has also surpassed Cape Town by becoming the second largest city in the country. It is home to diverse cultures such as the East, the West, and Europe.
Durban is a place that has balmy weather whatever the season, making it the perfect getaway or vacation for you and your family. Its mile-long stretch of hotel establishments is called "The Golden Mile".
If Cape Town remains to be Eurocentric and Johannesburg is reclaiming its African traditions, then Durban is an exciting blend of both Europe and Africa. It has the best of both worlds indeed.
Durban offers one of the world's largest aquariums, a host of interesting cultural activities such as live African music, museums, bird parks, zoos, and so much more. If tourists are more into the adult entertainment side of things, that is, gambling, there are plenty of casinos to choose from as well.
Durban, getting there and around
By Plane -- Durban International Airport is 9 miles south of the city center. There has been talk of relocating to La Mercy, which is a 30-minute drive north and rename the new airport King Shaka International Airport (after a famous Zulu leader). Until this happens, though, most flights will remain domestic.
Information - 031 451-6666
Airport bus service - 031 465-5573
Super Shuttle - 0860 - 333-444
For visitors' convenience, taxis are always lined outside. The airport bus travels the domestic terminal and the SAA building from 6 am to 9 pm. If visitors are interested in 24-hour service, they can call Super Shuttle.
By Train - If you're traveling from Johanesburg, the Trans-Natal goes directly to Durban Station on NMR Avenue.
Telephone numbers: 031 361-7621 or 031 361-7609
By Bus -- Greyhound, Intercape, and Translux arrive and depart at the station complex.
By Car - If you find traveling by car much easier, the N2 from Cape Town runs parallel to the coast; the N3 to Johannesburg meets the N2 at Durban.
By Car - Rent a car if you don't plan on staying in the city. Contact Avis at 031 408 1282, Budget at 031 - 408 1809. Visitors can also try Windermere Car Hire at 031 312 0339, or Maharani at 031 368 6563.
By Bus - The city center, beachfront, and Berea are serviced by Mynah buses (tel. 031/309-5942 ); trips cost around R1.20.
By Taxi - The three-wheeled Asian-style tuk tuks will take you between the beach and central Durban, and so will "mozziecabs" (tel. 031 263-0467). Aussies (tel. 031 309-7888 ) is a large and reliable taxi service company as well.
Durban, main attractions
The BAT center, an arts and culture community that is just off the Victoria Embankment in Durban. Their contact numbers are 27 31 332 0451 and you can also e-mail them at email@example.com .
Roma Revolving Restaurant is a rotating circular restaurant room that provides 360 degree views of the city. It is located at the Victoria Embankment, on the 32 nd floor of the John Ross House, in the City Centre. Contact them at 27 31 368 2275.
uShaka Marine World , one of the largest Aquariums in the world. Aside from featuring an Aquarium, it also has a Sea World: The Phantom Ship, uShaka Wet 'n Wild, uShaka Beach, and uShaka Village Watch.
Umgeni River Birdpark is situated on the banks of the Umgeni River. With lush, green vegetation and beautiful waterfalls, the visitor is sure to get more than an eyeful of 400 species of birds on display. Telephone number is 031 5794600, e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org , and their official website is www.umgeniriverbirdpark.co.za
Mitchell Park Zoo has an extensive collection of animals such as tropical fish, exotic birds, and reptiles. It is also amenable for picnicking. The park is open from Monday to Sundays, 24 hours, although the zoo is open from 8 am to 5 pm. Contact them at telephone number 031 303 2275 and at email@example.com .
Comrades Marathon - Held every January. This is in commemoration of the men who had fallen in the Great War, and it was first run in 1921. The course runs for 88 kilometers starting in Pietermaritzburg and ending in Durban.
Dusi Canoe Marathon - Held every January. It is also the oldest canoe marathon in Africa. It involves three days of canoe paddling and portaging from Pietermaritzburg to Durban.
Vodacom Durban - Held every July. A horseracing event that gathers media coverage about the fashion and the lively vibe that is a standard.
Music and Cinema
If you're looking for some live music, it would be a good idea to walk around the beachfront area in search of some good bars and clubs. Try Bonkers on Florida Road. There is also a great scene for live African music.
Almost all the major shopping malls in Durban have cinemas. Choose from The Workshop, The Wheel, and The Musgrave Center. International films are also screened by local affiliates such as Alliance Francaise.
Bars and Pubs
If drinking is more your fun, searching the beachfront area can be pretty rewarding. There are all kinds of bars and pubs, ranging from uppity and elite bars at the hotels, to your average friendly neighborhood bar just down the street.
Durban, important visitor information
American Express - They are located in 'The Vibe' East Coast Radio House, Umhlanga Rocks Drive. Their telephone number is 031 566-8650 and they are open from Mondays to Fridays 8 am-5 pm and Saturdays, 8:30 am to 11 am.
Area Code - Durban's area code is 031.
Emergencies - For any kind of emergency, visitors can go to Entabeni Private Hospital (telephone number 031/204-1300). The number for the police is 300-3333 and the SAP Tourist Protection Unit is 031 368-4453.
Safety - If you plan on going beyond Durban into northern Zululand, you will need antimalarial drugs. If you plan on staying inside Durban, it would be wise to keep all displays of wealth to a minimum, as street crime is a problem. Tourists and visitors are also encouraged to explore during the day.
Visas - Entry permits are issued free on arrival to visitors on holiday from most Western European and countries such as the US and Japan. If you are not a citizen of those countries and are not eligible, you will need to get a visa (which is also free) before you arrive.
Tipping - It is customary to tip 10% of the bill when it comes to coffee shops and restaurants. Most restaurants do not normally include the tip in the bill.
For riding taxis, the drivers should also receive 10% of the amount charged. For porters, R 2.00 per bag is considered a fair tip.
Weather - If you need to check the weather, you can call 082-231-1603.
When to Go - If you're planning to visit, the best time is from February to mid-May, as the weather is not too humid then.