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Durban - The World in One City
Posted: 8 March 2007
Author: Susie Browne


Introduction
Durban is a severely under-recognized and unnoticed metropolitan city on the east coast of South Africa. Excellent weather conditions prevail most times of the year, and the warm currents of the Indian Ocean makes bathing or surfing a year-long activity. It boasts the most amazing collection of flora and fauna, and unmatched coastline with thriving marine life, has very well developed infrastructure and its warm and welcoming people represent a unique blend of cultures.


Things to do
  • uShaka Marine world is a world-class aquarium and water theme park, with its amazing collection of striking and exotic sea life artistically set in giant tanks that serves as the real-life décor of an actual sunken ship.
  • Shopping is a treat in Durban, with very reasonable prices for dining, apparel and entertainment. Major shopping malls include the Pavilion and the Gateway, but numerous smaller malls and shopping centers can be found. African art is a must purchase for tourists to Durban, and craft markets, stalls and street vendors offer the most incredible variety of locally hand-crafted pieces. Although you could bargain, most of the time prices are already very low, ranging from a mere 2-3 US$ for a small piece to about a 100 for the largest.
  • Beaches in Durban rate among the best in the world, with glorious swells of between 1 and 3 meters and water temperatures between 18 and 25 degrees Celsius. Besides bathing, surfing and fishing, jetskiing and kite-surfing is very popular., or of course you could rent or charter a ski boat or yacht for the day…
  • For the player in you! Durban has 2 fully licensed and top-notch hotel casinos, Sun Coast Casino located just outside the city, and Sibaya located a short drive up the north coast. Besides gambling, the centers have game centers for kids, a variety of excellent restaurants and take-away diners, and have nightly live shows and movie theatres.


Safety and Security
This is undoubtedly the number one concern of tourists to the region, and reading a local newspaper one can see why the cause for concern. It is quite unfortunate that this is the case, considering that South Africa has so much to offer; however with due diligence and a few key precautionary measures, tourists and visitors will find a trip to Durban tremendously fulfilling. The following measures should be observed when traveling without a guide or assistance:
  • Stay away from the city centre after business hours or evenings
  • Keep your vehicle windows closed and doors locked at all times
  • Keep valuable including cellphones out of sight even when driving
  • Don’t carry cash or cameras in small hand-held carry bags – try to keep these in your pockets
  • If ever in a compromising position in the face of an assailant, give up your material possessions without attempting to fight back or retaliate
  • Perform all financial transactions (cash withdrawal/ money exchange) at well-developed locations such as shopping centers; and if using an ATM try to find one in a busy shopping mall or where a guard is present
  • Visit the more popular beaches and never go to secluded spots; also you should not leave your valuables unattended
With these precautionary measures heeded (as I’m sure you would in most densely populated cities) you will be sure to enjoy your African adventure tremendously.



Dining
An excellent selection of fast food is available including internationally renowned chains such as McDonald’s, KFC, Cinnabon and Nando’s (actually originating in South Africa), and just recently Subway and Gloria Jean’s. Steakhouses are plentiful, of an excellent quality and prices are rock bottom cheap by international standards. Spur Steak Ranches are highly recommended and can be found at most major shopping centres; they boast a tantalizing menu consisting of varieties of steaks, spare ribs, schnitzels and grills. Another chain worty of mention is ‘Ocean Basket’, with delectable seafood platters brimming with flavor. And of course if ever visiting Durban one has to try the local specialty, the so-called “bunny chow” - a hollowed out portion of English bread filled with a spicy Indian curry of your choice; and minding the tradition, to be devoured by hand.


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