It’s winter in Cape Town and it’s cold, wet (thank goodness for the rain though) and a bit miserable. Durban is a great, affordable destination in South Africa in winter because it’s so warm. Think about wearing shorts and t-shirts people. I was lucky to stay in Durban with good friends who basically treated me like I was some Airbnb guest but even better with my own granny flat and food. Having spent a few days visiting Durban, my highlights are listed below:
1. The Oyster Box
The Oyster Box in Umhlanga has to be the best hotel in South Africa especially because it’s next to the sea. High tea at the Oyster Box is a bucket list item with an amazing buffet, top-class service and the most beautiful setting. The vibe was young, fresh and didn’t feel stuffy and old at all (Mount Nelson I am thinking of you). I would love to stay there as a guest one day so that I can be allowed in their pool.
2. The Beaches
Miles and miles of soft sand. Warm waters. Need I say more? I made sure that I made time for an openwater swim in the warm water Durban sea. A mermaid always at heart.
3. Ushaka Sea World
I really enjoyed the Ushaka aquarium. The Cape Town one probably has more dramatic tanks (like that tank filled with giant spider crabs) but Ushaka offers a more interactive experience like feeding manta rays, seals, penguins etc. The dolphin show brought mixed feelings. I love seeing dolphins but I want to see them in the wild. At least these dolphins were all bred in captivity and I also got the impression that they were well loved and cared for. But still. And after seeing the “Blackfish” documentary. Will those types of shows be a thing of the past?
4. Ushaka Wet & Wild
I had the time of my life on the supertubes and slides. The time of my life. I went on every single one. When I was little, I was too scared to enjoy them but now I had my new YOLO mentality that I have adopted on my side. I worked my way up to the biggest and baddest slide doing supertubes like the cobra (in pitch black) and the tornado (where you literally got thrown around and upside down). My technique was not to hesitate at the top and just go but I also closed my eyes. I made it down the highest slide in the Southern Hemisphere which absolutely blew my mind.
5. The Markets of Warwick Tour
I loved my markets of Warwick tour that I went on with Phiwe (a trader at the herb market). There are nine different markets including Victoria Street market, Early morning market, Brooks Street Market, Music Bridge Market and the Bead Market. These markets have a long history (some of them at 160 years), with all sorts of products being sold from clay, to vetkoek, to handbags, belts, ropes, live chickens, fresh fruit and vegetables to beautiful beads. The most fascinating part of the tour for me was the herb market (aka traditional medicine) and the variety of herbs, wood chips, plants and other prescriptions that was available. Ask me about whether or not I bought a love potion? It’s a good story. Otherwise I was sad that I was the only person on the tour because I felt like we need to support our local people. I had to drive alone through a dodgy part of town and negotiate with three different people for a parking spot saying a silent prayer that my car would be there when I returned. But it was all part of the experience.
6. Moses Mabhida Stadium
There is a great energy and a lot of activity in and around the Moses Mabhida stadium. I was contemplating the Adventure Walk of 500 steps to the top of the stadium but it only operated on very limited set times. I opted for the Sky Box which goes up and down to the top every 10 minutes. I also briefly considered the bridge swing (which is supposed to be the biggest bridge swing in the world) but I thought I had to leave something for my next trip to Durban. And to be honest, sliding down the highest slide at UShaka was enough of a thrill for me.
7. Bunny Chow
Bunny chow is basically curry in half-a-loaf of white bread. It’s Durban’s answer to Cape Town’s Gatsby sandwich. I tried one for the first time this long weekend from “Dema Gateway” and it was absolutely delicious. The Naidoos asked if I wanted hot and spicy (and because it’s Durban it would be extra hot and spicy to make you cry) and I opted for the mild version which was why “Dema Gateway” came highlight recommended.
Thank you to the Naidoos for their amazing hospitality! The trip to Durban would not have been the same without you.