Durban, South Africa – August 1999
The doorway to Africa, from where you can head for the Hills, ramble
with rhinos, dive with Dolphins, sun with the surfers, or laze with
lions. Or relax, and have a cold one!!
It is a real mix of English, Afrikaans, African, and Indian culture, with their unique histories apparent wherever you turn. Check out this site for maps.
Explore the old Zulu Kingdom
Come to the heart of Zulu country, the Emakhosini – Valley of Kings, home of the great men of the royal Zulu lineage. Here lie the remains of the father of the Zulu nation, Nkosinkulu, as well as those of kings, Shaka, Dingane, Mpande, and Nobamba.
You should visit Ulundi, the home of the world’s smallest Holiday Inn, and the home of the KZN Legislative assembly. If you can, try to visit, if only to see the statue of Shaka, and the magnificent Rorke’s Drift tapestries, which depict the history of the Zulu, and which run for the entire length of the interior.
Further down the road, a couple of miles or so, is the site of the Battle of Ulundi, the final battle of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. An eerie place, full of memories, and which makes the hair on the back of the neck prickle. The royal area of the site has been reconstructed on the basis of archaeological excavations, and the on-site museum provides detailed info on the life of the Kings and the war. The KwaZulu Cultural museum also houses one of the best collections of material from the region, including some of the finest Zulu beadwork.
If you are visiting the Northern KZN, try to see the famous Ladysmith Siege Museum, with it’s diarama depicting the area at the time of the siege. It also has a huge display of various artefacts, documents, uniforms and firearms. The biggest event of it’s kind since the Anglo-Boer war of 1899, the Freedom Festival will be running from October 1999 to June 2000, commemorating the war and subsequent
freedom struggles. More info on this can be obtained from info@Ladysmith.co.za.
KZN Tourism Authority is always available to offer advice on tours, places to visit, accommodation, etc.
It’s a good idea to carry a cellphone here, as distances are so vast that you might need assistance and find yourselves a long way from the nearest phone. See if your cellphone is compatible with our system, and if not you can always rent one while you are here. They are cheap enough, and excellent insurance in the event of any problems.
The only currency accepted is South African Rands, except in international establishments. You should also check to see if your credit cards can be used here before you come. The official Rand/US$ exchange rate is about 6 Rand to the Dollar at present, but it fluctuates. However, try not to carry too much in the way of large-demonination notes, as change might be a problem out in the sticks!
We have one of the most advanced banking systems in the world, with plenty of automatic tellers in most areas, and the banks are open Mon-Fri, 9-3’ish, and on Saturday mornings as well. But beware unofficial money-changers.
If cool coastal forests, chattering monkeys, crested guineafowl, and hippos, are your bag, nestling in an indigenous forest, in stilted accommodation, check out Makakatana. It’s not the average coastal getaway, but something completely unique.
However, if back-packing is more your thing, if you just want some sun, fun and adventure, where it is cosy comfortable and safe, perhaps you should talk to Nomads backpackers? They offer a home from home, albeit close to all the best that Durban has to offer, and they can be
e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. All they offer is a goodtime!!
And if you have always wanted to learn how to surf, bodyboard etc, get in touch with one of the surfing SA’s legends. Baron Stander, at the timewarp Surfing Museum. He can be e-mailed at email@example.com. You might also have a look at the Official Durban Website.
Mtubatuba (Mtuba-twice to the locals) has a huge range of options for the traveller. The Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve’s Nyalazi Gate is 30km to the west. This is the oldest game reserve in Southern Africa and it is from here that the Black Rhino Rescue was launched. It is one of Southern Africa’s “BIG FIVE” Game reserves. Comprehensive maps may be obtained at the gate for self-drive day trips. Rest at the scenic picnic spots and stop for lunch at the hilltop restaurant.
The Greater St Lucia wetlands Park is 25km to the east. This eco system is of great international importance and it is a potential world heritage site. Boat trips on the lake could bring you in close contact with hippos, crocodiles and water birds e.g. the Fish Eagle. You can snorkel in the warm Indian Ocean at Cape Vidal and
short walking trails take you through the forested sand-dunes or tropical rain forests.
Dumazulu is a traditional Zulu village, 40km to the north. This “kraal” forms part of a “Living Museum” that offers daily cultural tours. An ideal opportunity to learn more about the Zulu’s customs and traditions. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, for more
If you feel like resting for a while after all your battle-field
stomping, and game-viewing, why not give yourself a break? Penwarn Country Lodge is a country retreat in the Southern Drakensberg of South Africa, just outside Underberg. They offer full-board, B&B and self-catering accommodation, and lots of outdoor activities for an unforgettable holiday.
The farm lies in a beautiful valley traversed by two rivers. Zebra, wildebeest and antelope roam free across the plains, while the blue heights of the Drakensberg rise up to the west. It is a dream destination for fly-fishermen and horseriders, a haven for nature-lovers and an opportunity for a real family holiday.
All this, as well as some great white-water rafting on the Tugela river, mountain-hiking in the Drakensberg, and being a beach-bum in Durbs, are part of the attractions. Some of the world’s finest golf courses are within minutes of the city centre, while the Victoria Indian market has be seen for all it’s ethnic colour.
It gets hot and sticky here, especially in Durban itself, and
humitures can get well over 100, but the spring months are magic…and the beer is always ice-cold.
The rugby World Cup starts in October, and already the country is in the grip of rugby fever.If you want to learn all about rugby, and what makes us so good at it, while sucking on a cold beer, there will be plenty of pubs and clubs shewing ALL the games. So you get to visit, enjoy the country, see the rugby, and drink more beer!!
Until then, its cheers from Doug’O’Durban.
Durban was named after Sir Benjamin D’Urban, one of the early Colonial governors, and was
once considered to be one of the jewels of the British Empire, much as North America was!!
Surprisingly, Natal has nothing to do with pregnancy!! It was, apparently, so named because the early Portugese discoverer, Vasco da Gama, first found the Rio de Natal, (Christmas River), on Xmas day in 1497.
The new name for the province, KwaZulu-Natal is indicative of linking the ‘native’ KwaZulu name, and the old Natal name. It’s Africa’s biggest and busiest port, with everything associated with the sea…great surfing, fishing, diving,
bodyboarding, yachting, marine sports, watering-holes.
Accommodation ranges from the luxurious, 5 Star establishments from as little as $90/night, to delightful B&B’s in most suburbs and towns, where you might pay $25 or even less.
There are too many to mention, but speaking first hand I would happily recommend
The Edward, 5 stars, right on the beachfront, famous for it’s seafood smorgasbords, ($23) and host to Royalty past and present.
Tina’s hotel in Kloof, 30kms out of Durban, up in the mist-belt, wonderful colonial-type atmosphere, but only 20 mins from town. A great pub, with excellent food, friendly service, and comfortable accommodation.
You can email them at email@example.com
Babanango Hotel, out in Zululand, near the famous battlefields of the Zulu wars, has amazing atmosphere, with a bar full of history, militaria, and visitors underwear.
About the Author
Doug Hendry is a self-confessed middle-aged, hair- disadvantaged, bearded, dipsomaniac, frustrated cook, and member of the SA Chefs Assn.
He also makes Visiboards – bodyboards with a glass viewing panel. Check out his website by clicking on the link.