7 Epic Attractions You Can Visit In Durban, South Africa- Indian Ocean 3
Durban Harbor, South Africa
Handling about 31.4 million tons of cargo a year and the largest, biggest shipping terminal in sub-Saharan Africa is the Port of Durban, most commonly known to us sailors as Durban Harbor. This is the 4th largest container terminal in southern hemisphere, the second largest in Africa (after Port Said, Egypt). With 58 berths which are operated by 20 terminal operators, around 4,500 ships call at Durban Harbor every year.
Located at the east coast of South Africa and about 625 nautical miles southwest of the Port of Maputo (Mozambique), Durban Harbor occupies the stretch of Indian Ocean‘s Durban Bay. Aside from berthing services, this port provides car and cruise terminals as well as offshore patrol vessels. It also offers bunkering facilities for gas and oil vessels like Island View Shipping (my employer from 2013-2018), and marinas for yachts.
Nicknamed “Durbs”, this is the 3rd largest city in South Africa after Johannesburg and Cape Town. Durban is the capital of KwaZulu-Natal province and the biggest city along the Indian Ocean coast of the African continent. Archeological evidence show that this city was once inhabited by hunters way back to 100,000 B.C. until Bantu farmers from the north arrived and forced them out of the area.
The place has been a Zulu stronghold for centuries when the Portuguese explorer, Vasco de Gama sailed at the coast on a Christmas morning on his way to India in 1497 and named the place “Natal” meaning Christmas in Portuguese. In 1686, the ship “Stavenisse” of the Dutch East India Company was wrecked and the crew were taken care of by the Abambo tribe under their chief Langalibale. In no time the Dutch sailors became fluent with the language and in 1689 Port Natal became a Dutch Cape Colony. Lt. James King and Lt. Francis George Farewell of the ship “Salisbury”, both ex-Royal Navy Officers from the Napoleonic Wars anchored at Port Natal during a storm and later made a trade deal with the Zulu king, Shaka thus started the arrival of white settlers in the region.
In 1824, another British trader, Henry Francis Flynn was granted a lease of the coast by King Shaka (after the Brit helped the Zulu king recover from a stab wound). More European settlers followed and in 1835, the residents of Flynn‘s territory decided to rename their settlement into “D’Urban” after Sir Benjamin D’Urban, the governor of Cape Colony.
Right after we left the Port of Maputo in Mozambique, the IVS Leopard Sun had anchored at Durban Harbor for full oil discharging in 2013. Durban is a multi-racial city of Indians (descendants of laborers who worked at the sugar cane plantations of Durban during the British colonial period), European heirs and of course the Zulu people. With this blend of fascinating culture, Durban is becoming a must-see destination in South Africa. Indeed there’s a lot more to explore in this city than meets the eye, and to stir you travel-inspired, here are 7 epic attractions you can visit in Durban, South Africa.
Durban Golden Mile
This is the stretch of powdery sand edged by a promenade on one side and the warm, alluring waters of the Indian Ocean at the other side. An epic attraction you can visit in Durban, South Africa this is not only a playground for ace swimmers and surfers but a jumping-off point for exploring Durban Mini Town as well. The Mini Town is a small replica of the city. Also near the area is Stables Lifestyles Market, an unusual market of 230 small shops that look like stables selling an assortment of crafts and goods.
For intricate souvenirs to bring home, then head straight to the Indian Quarter. Situated at Victoria Street Market and Juma Mashid Mosque is the Indian area, an epic attraction you can visit in Durban, South Africa. This section of the city is a multicultural blend of scents, sights and sounds. Here, Indians, Pakistanis, Chinese and Somali hawkers and traders sell everything from spices to beaded slippers, fragrant incenses to attractive handmade jewelries.
Moses Mobhida Stadium
A world-class sports venue located along the Golden Mile in Durban is the Moses Mobhida Stadium. It hosted the FIFA World Cup Games in 2010 but most of all, it provides you a 360-degree view of the city when you climb its arch (via the stairs) or take a ride in the sky car to the summit. An epic attraction you can visit in Durban, South Africa and if you’re the dare-devil type then try to push your limit with the 220-meter Big Rush Big Swing which the stadium also offers to tourists.
Not just an ordinary “art” museum that you know but Kwamuhle Museum is an exhibition center depicting the life in Durban during the apertheid (apartness) years in South Africa. It was the era of racial segregation against non-whites and this museum showcases the courage of South Africans who won in their fight against this system. An epic attraction you can visit in Durban, South Africa this museum is housed in the former Native Affairs Department once the center of Durban‘s harsh system of labor control.
Tala Game Reserve
An epic attraction you can visit in Durban, South Africa is Tala Game Reserve, for the ultimate bush experience which is an hour’s drive from the city center. Spread over a 7,400 acres of jungle, this is a sanctuary of various species of birds and wildlife. You can choose between a guided bush walk or ride on a ranger for a 2-hour game drive and for that extraordinary “jungle” treat, try a sleepover at a “rondavel” (hut) to wake up in the morning with the haunting cry of Africa’s fish eagle, “the voice of Africa.”
Named after the legendary Zulu king, Shaka, this is an open-air museum 2 hours drive north from Durban. Shakaland, an epic attraction you can visit in Durban, South Africa is a village that introduces you to the Zulu culture. It’s the largest ethnic group in South Africa and this tour provides you a glimpse on their way of life which include tribal social structures, music, dances and various ceremonies.
Labeled as “the greatest shoal on earth”, the Sardine Run is considered as one of mother nature’s amazing migrations. These tiny, silvery fish accumulate in millions to take their journey through the Indian Ocean coast passing along Durban. An epic attraction you can visit in Durban, South Africa, every year from the beach you’ll witness this spectacle of movement of sardines that swim up the coastline attracting dolphins, whales, sharks, birds and of course, fishermen as well.
In 2014, CNN rated Durban as “The Coolest City in South Africa.” Now that the world is slowly opening up for leisure tour, it’s about time to put this city on your travel shortlist. Though it has been an overlooked destination in South Africa, travelers had realized that Durban‘s hidden qualities make it a special place worthy of their attention. Gelukkige reis.