Find out the top 5 special experiences to try out when in Durban from a local expert
This post is inspired by a similar article posted on News24.com's travel section, however, it got me thinking (as a native of Durban) about unique experiences you could have as a tourist or even just a Durbanite who wants to soak up the richness of Durban's personality. Another post will also go up in the near future about 5 experiences to be had around Durban as the city is too big, I cannot include these in this particular post.
Durban itself is the third largest city in South Africa and is very culturally diverse. Settled by the British in the 1800s, the port remains the busiest in South Africa. The area "Natal" was named as such by Portuguese explorer, Vasco De Gama, and means "Christmas" in Portuguese.
But enough about history! Here is a list of 5 special things to do when in Durban:
Eat a bunny chow: Durban is "the largest Indian city outside of India" so great and various Indian food is always right around the corner. The bunny chow, though, is a stable of ALL Durbanites. A bunny chow is primarily a fast food and constitutes a hollowed-out fresh loaf of white bread (either a half or a quarter of a loaf usually) filled with curry and topped off with the soft insides of the loaf. We call it a bunny. You can get many different kinds - from vegetarian to lamb to chicken - but the bread remains the same. It is delicious and is always recommended to tourists, local and international alike. My personal favourite is Patels, which serves only vegetable curries. The BBC even did a news piece on it! Watch it here and let your mouth water...
Enjoy the beach promenade: this is a favourite of locals any day of the year. Durban's "Golden Mile" is 11.2 kilometres long. This means walking from end to end can be a morning or afternoon affair. You can hire bikes and cycle from the popular Bike and Bean or simply walk along and take pictures of the beautiful Indian Ocean. You can also stop off for an ice cream, walk up one of the many piers and see the sand sculptures on the beach (for a photo, the artist will ask you to pay!). There are also many restaurants and cafés to have lunch or sit down for a coffee.
Have High Tea: High Tea is an easy and relaxing experience to have in between your activities in Durban. It can be had at some of the most exclusive restaurants in our city. It is recommended to book in advance but it allows you to dress up a little (if you like) and attend this thoroughly high-class affair. The tea itself is served with bite-sized sandwiches and sweet snacks. Sit in a lovely garden or overlook the sea. Either way, you can break up your day with an afternoon High Tea. My two top choices are: The Oyster Box in Umhlanga Rocks and the Saint James in Morningside.
Visit the beach mangroves: this is a bit of a best kept secret. Within Durban is one of the last remnants of mangrove habitat on the KwaZulu Natal coastline: the Beachwood Mangrove Nature Reserve. The reserve itself is only open to the public on the third Saturday of the month. You can explore the reserve via an elevated boardwalk by yourself or join a group led by friendly officers. This is a wonderful slice of Durban that is often overlooked but can offer you the option of learning and viewing of this fragile ecosystem.
Ride the SkyCar at Moses Mabhida Stadium: ending off with a popular choice, no Durban experience is complete without a trip to the Moses Mabhida Stadium to ride the SkyCar. Although the stadium was built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the SkyCar (which rides on the top of the stadium) is available all year round as a viewing point for tourists. This allows you to enjoy a 360 degree view of Durban as far as the eye can see. It costs R60 for adults and R30 for children. Visit the SkyCar's website for more details (it is advisable to check on the morning if you intend to go to see if they are open as per the weather conditions)
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