The Discoverer
The Discoverer
Durban, South Africa
Edition 139   |   3:26 read time
Durban, KwaZulu-Natal | @bradhunter_media
Most make Cape Town or Johannesburg their first stops on any tour of South Africa, but Durban is not to be overlooked. Known as Durbs to locals and eThekwini in Zulu, it’s the largest city in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province — and, as of 2015, one of the Seven Urban Wonders of the New World. As friendly to beach bums and surfers as it is to aspiring business titans, Durban is on the rise. Visit soon so you can say you knew it when.
Fun Fact:
Durban is home to the busiest container port in Africa.
#thisissouthafrica | Ahrys Art
June — July
It doesn’t get warm in Durban — it stays warm. There’s also more rain than you might expect, making the winter months of June and July a kind of sweet spot for pleasant weather. Temperatures are mild (think low 70s Fahrenheit on a good day), precipitation is rare, and the sky is especially big and blue.
Phezulu Safari Park | @clintondeantravels
Crocodiles and Giraffes and Kudus, Oh My!
You’d be remiss not to experience the wildlife during your time in Durban. One safe, responsible way to do that is by visiting Phezulu Safari Park, which is just half an hour outside the city proper but feels like an ecosystem unto itself. Crocodiles, giraffes, and kudus are just some of the creatures you’ll find here; to get the full experience, however, you’ll have to watch the Gasa clan put on a Zulu singing-and-dancing show. If you prefer your animals in the sky, more than 200 species (including such perennial favorites as toucans and parrots) await at Umgeni River Bird Park.
Valley of 1000 Hills | @ryanlogie
When 999 Hills Just Aren’t Enough
Can any place truly live up to a name like Valley of a Thousand Hills? Short answer, yes. Linking Durban to the city of Pietermaritzburg, the Valley also marks the convergence of the Umgeni and Msunduzi rivers. As you might have guessed, the Valley is one of South Africa’s most stunning areas to explore on a scenic drive. Home to villages that preserve traditional Zulu culture, it’s perfect for a day trip — or, if you stay at one of the many bed and breakfasts, an overnight stay.
Beachfront Durban | @magic_carpet_rides
Built to Scale
Minitown asks an important question: What if a town, but mini? A photo-friendly way to experience Durbs in miniature, this attraction is nestled alongside Snake Park Beach and is just as fun for the young at heart as it is for actual kiddos. Scale models of everything from the airport to city hall will teach you more about Durban’s past and present than you probably expect, with the added benefit of making you feel like a giant traipsing about a tiny city. (And if being at Snake Park has you in a beachy mood, get thee to one of Durban’s many other gorgeous beaches.)
Durban Botanic Gardens | @dronedad81
Botanic Beauty
First opened in 1849, Durban Botanic Garden is the oldest public institution in the city — not to mention the oldest surviving botanic garden in all of Africa. The go-to spot for cycads, palms, orchids, and other eye-catching plants, it’s an especially relaxing way to spend a morning or afternoon (or both). Get lucky and you’ll even see a family of Egyptian geese on the lawn.
Kyran’s Discovery
"Peak one was once used as an observation post during World War II in Durban. It is one of Durban’s hidden gems due to the 4x4 track that is needed to summit the peak. The views from the top are absolutely breathtaking especially during golden hour as the sun sets over Durban."
Health On Broadway | @valeowholefoods
Eat Like It’s 1999
Eat like it’s 1999 at, well, Café 1999, which has been going strong for more than two decades. Located in the Berea neighborhood, it offers an eclectic menu ranging from lamb tacos and harissa chicken wings to tagliatelle and char-grilled beef fillet. Then there's Valeo Whole Foods, which is located inside a health-food store and shows it. Anyone with sensitivities to gluten, dairy, or sugar will appreciate the range of options here, but you needn't be a vegan to enjoy their sandwiches, salads, or bowls.
Umhlanga Beach | @jarredvdb
Home Away From Home
When a hotel has the word “boutique” in its name, that's usually a sign that it's expensive. Not so at Avondale, which you can book for $100 per night (or less, if you get lucky) and feel like you’re getting away with something. There's also the swanky, sophisticated Oyster Box, whose reputation precedes it: It's been voted the #1 hotel in South Africa and #2 in all of Africa. Situated on the Umhlanga beachfront, the five-star property offers appropriately stunning views of both the Indian Ocean and the famous Umhlanga Lighthouse.
Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu-Natal | @avril_m_photography
Before It Was Durban
"Not many people know that Durban was originally called Rio de Natal, by Vasco da Gama. Natal means Christmas in Portuguese, so just like a Christmas tree Durban is colorful and brings a warm, homely feeling to all that call it home as well as all its visitors" – @avril_m_photography
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