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Mini guide to Durban
Situated on the subtropical east coast of South Africa, Durban is one of the country’s largest cities. It’s endless beachfront, lined with hotels, and a heady mix of Zulu, Hindu and colonial culture has made it popular with tourists and locals for decades.
Marine Parade is Durban's focal point. From the port entrance in the south to the Tugela river mouth in the north this vast stretch of waterfront is divided into several beaches, meaning you can literally stroll out of your hotel (or office) with a surfboard and tacking the fantastic surf. The beaches are clean and safe, with a great variety of food and entertainment on offer. A small amusement park is squashed between the marine parade avenue and beach, and the strip is lined with high-rise apartments and hotels.
Apart from the sandy strip, 'Durbs' has a fair bit to offer. The impressive city hall houses an art gallery which has a good collection of contemporary South African works and a natural science museum. The African Art Centre has some excellent examples of unique local art.
The sizeable ethnic Indian population of the city has left a strong influence on the area ever since being imported as indentured workers a hundred years ago. Their bustling community is concentrated to the west of the city centre, particularly around the Victoria St Market, where there are bargains galore.
Inland, suburban Durban gets hilly and a drive westward reveals some excellent views, it is also a good way to escape the sticky humidity between October and March. The lush undulating hinterland of Kwazulu Natal, with its rural villages and distinctively colourful Zulu culture is intriguing and several cultural shows are offered in the city.
North of the city is the resort town of Umhlanga Rocks, another great beachfront, minus the city, while a drive south reveals several charming seaside towns such as Amanzimtoti.
Durban has an international airport, though most the long haul flights arrive in Johannesburg. It’s worth hiring a car to make the five-hour trip because you pass the spectacular Drakensberg mountains.