Durban Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > South Africa > Durban > History

As with most cities, Durban has developed around the geographic features of the area. Durban is bounded in the south by the Bluff, a range of green clad hills separating the sea from Durban Bay, and stretches northwards beyond the Umgeni River to the high land of Durban North. Inland lies Berea, a ridge of hills encircling the flat, central part of the City.

Being a coastal city, Durban is constantly affected by the warm sea current flowing down its shoreline. Humidity is high. The coast to the north and south of Durban enjoys beautiful beaches and warm water. The Agulhas Current travels southward down the KwaZulu-Natal shoreline, and is one of the most powerful currents in the world. Surfing is one of the main activities on the many beaches, where you will find Surf Lifesavers with numerous signs demarcating areas where swimming is safe. Angling and boating activities are also very popular.

On the shoreline of the city centre is the Golden Mile of beach, leisure amenities and high-rise hotels. Along the ocean a public promenade stretches from Durban?s Harbour area in the south, right along the edge of the city and the sea, to the natural boundary of the Umgeni River in the north. All along this beachfront are public attractions, good surfing, a funfair and a great range of hotels.

The main beaches are the Country Club, Battery, North and South (where there is a family theatre) and Addington. Lifesavers work on all these beaches. Umhlanga, to the north of Durban and Amanzimtoti to the south, continue this long stretch of beaches and resorts.

The climate is tropical most of the year, with the summer thunder storms bringing a slight relief from the humid atmosphere that prevails. The hills above the city are more temperate. The vegetation on the coastal regions are very abundant and tropical, and
visitors to the area will see an amazing range of plants, trees and flowers not found in other parts of Southern Africa.

City Centre

Metropolitan Durban, or eThekweni in Zulu, is the largest, most vibrant city on the East Coast of Southern Africa. There is a harbour and international airport, both conveniently located for the city. The city centre bustles during the day and amidst the museums and civic buildings of colonial heritage, you will find yourself at the heart of a truly African city. It is a 'cultural curry' of different communities, including British, Indian and Zulu. At night, however, the centre empties and can be unsafe, each community returning to their distinct suburbs. You will find the colonial heritage of the city, and a distinctly African pulse, concentrated in the small area between Aliwal and Gardiner streets and on the parallel roads of Smith, West and Pine (Tourist Information office is situated on Pine Road).

Golden Mile

The Golden Mile extends along Marine Parade with Snell Parade to the north and Erskine Parade to the south; it is to the West of the city centre. The beaches are the main attraction as well as the Miami-style skyline. There are restaurants, entertainment and amenities galore, but beyond the beachfront development the area becomes more seedy and should be treated with caution after dark. The Seaworld Aquarium is an established attraction and includes over 1,000 fish, with sharks, dolphins, seals and penguins too. The oft-photographed Zulu, Rickshaw Men are to be found nearby, a curious emblem of this culturally diverse city.

Indian Quarter

To the eastern side of the centre is the Indian Quarter, found along Grey Street running north from West Street. The Jumah Mosque, found in this area, is reputably the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Two markets are of note here - the Oriental Bazaar and the Victoria Street Market. This area has also become home to Zulu herbalists selling muti for traditional medicine and rituals - head for Russell Street Extension where these sellers congregate.

Harbour

The Harbour is the ninth largest in the world (over 4,500 acres) and the most important in Southern Africa. At its mouth there are two piers - the Point to the north, at the far end of the Golden Mile, and Bluff to the south. The Bluff is a 4km long, narrow spit, which shelters the Bay. On the city centre side of the Bay is the long Victoria Embankment where you will find various memorials, museums and have the opportunity to take a cruise or just view the boats.

Berea/Kloof/Botha's Hill

On the ridge to the west of the city is the suburb of Berea. Berea is home to several places of note. The popular Musgrave Centre, a shopping and entertainment emporium, the Killie Campbell Africana Museum, a must for those interested in Zulu culture, and the Botanical Gardens (established 1849) are all highly recommended. Some distance beyond Berea, on the eastern edges of the city, is Kloof, the up-market residential area, which is worth a drive around if only to see how lovely an area can be. After Kloof, Botha?s Hill extends along the Valley of the 1,000 Hills, and you will find yourself in spectacular countryside.

Durban North/Umhlanga

On the northern side of the city are the Umgeni River Mouth and the up-market area of Durban North. The Bird Park on its northern bank is highly recommended. Just north of the city is Umhlanga, a popular holiday area noted for its fine beaches, surrounding environment and excellent leisure and shopping centres. While there, take a walk in the Nature Reserve, situated around the lagoon. While you are in Umhlanga the Sharks Board offer fascinating tours of their research facility, if dissected sharks catch your fancy, that is.

Weather

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg. High 90° 89° 89° 86° 86° 83° 84° 85° 86° 86° 87° 89°
Avg. Low 63° 62° 61° 54° 47° 42° 42° 45° 50° 53° 56° 60°
Avg. Precip. 5.3 in 4.5 in 5.0 in 2.9 in 2.3 in 1.1 in 1.5 in 2.4 in 2.9 in 0.4 in 0.4 in 4.0 in

Fahrenheit temperature scale is used.