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Anyone been to Durban?

(30 Posts)
broadsheetbabe Wed 08-Oct-14 10:50:41

If you've been, please tell me all about the city and KwaZulu Natal?
Where to stay? What to see and do? What about safety / crime?

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PestoSurfissimos Wed 08-Oct-14 13:16:20

My auntie used to live there so I've been a couple of times. However, that was about 20 years ago so I don't think I'd have anything very relevant to contribute.

broadsheetbabe Wed 08-Oct-14 18:47:39

Thanks, Pesto.

Anyone else got any tips or suggestions?

Or should we just 'play it safe' and go down the Garden Route instead?

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FumblesandFrolics Wed 08-Oct-14 18:55:26

We go every year (DH is originally from there). Plenty to do with children. The water park and aquarium is fab, the beach front is really nice too. There's also plenty of Zululand things a short drive away. Umhlanga just up the coast is really nice and the Sharksboard can be visited too.

It is humid in Durban and can be very hot depending on the time of year you visit. Cape Town is much cooler and the sea is colder too there.

The Cape is lovely, not been to garden route myself though although did do some if the wine route (in days bc)

broadsheetbabe Wed 08-Oct-14 19:46:59

Thanks, Fumble.

We - me, DH and DS (8) - would be visiting at the end of August (have to coincide with DS's school hols). I'm thinking the weather in KwaZulu would be better than in Cape Town at this time of the year. Am I right?

DH wants to visit Rorke's Drift. Would you recommend a self-drive out to, say, Dundee or joining a tour company from Durban?

Zulu culture was on my list of things to must-do. Also the large aquarium in Durban.

Can you recommend anywhere else in the area worth a visit?

I read about Umhlanga on the web. It looks lovely but so do plenty of places along that coast. Is Umhlanga family friendly? I'll check out accommodation in that area, I think smile

And what about safety? You hear such conflicting reports about crime in the area. Of course, we'd take sensible precautions but is it really as unsafe as some people would have you believe? Do you know, is it any worse than Cape Town? (We were in Cape Town and along the Garden Route last February and didn't once feel in any way threatened)

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micah Wed 08-Oct-14 19:54:30

It was nearly 20 years ago but we had a fab time with this itinerary;

Fly joburg. Couple of days at sun city.

Drive down to Durban, via rourkes drift, draakensburg mountains etc.

We stayed in Margate (!). A bit South of Durban, but on the beach, and easily within reach of Durban, with many local things to do and see.

Drive back to joburg via umfolozi park. Brilliant lesser known safari park.

When we went there was lots of accommodation available. Basic, most of it, but cheap and clean.

I definitely preferred kwazulu natal to the more touristy cape town. It's quite "English", and crime was no worse than anywhere else. I was a young teenager and never felt threatened.

broadsheetbabe Wed 08-Oct-14 20:05:17

Cheers, Micah. I'm off to Google Margate!

Now I'm thinking we may be better off doing a self-drive out to Dundee / Rorke's Drift area.

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C0smos Wed 08-Oct-14 20:18:43

I live in Johannesburg, we usually usually head to Durban for a week most years.
I really like it but I think you need to plan a few more places to go as there isn't enough to do for a 2 week holiday
I usually stay in Ballito on the north coast, bit up from umhlanga and very near the airport. I book a self catering apartment near the beach using They have lots of apartments overlooking the beach, granny's pool beach is very nice and safe if you have young kids who want to paddle without big waves.
We usually visit the aquarium and water park, flag animal farm, gateway amusements. There is a lovely beach boardwalk for evening strolls, felt nice and safe to me.
The drakensberg is also lovely, I've stayed at both the Cavern and Alpine heath - both have good activities for kids, although alpine heath is quite resorty and loud.
I'm not sure I'd go to the drakensberg in August though, it will be very cold and probably some snow on the mountains. The n3 also shut last year when it snowed.
My parents went to rourkes drift and did the battlefields tour and raved about it - my kids are a bit young at the moment though.

chestnut100 Wed 08-Oct-14 20:28:02

I went as part of a bigger jaunt around S.A. Only place I did not feel safe. At all. From the moment I arrived, the taxi driver warned me to never walk anywhere etc. the concierge and bell boy in our very upscale hotel told us to remove all jewellery and to take taxis everywhere, and only ones ordered by the hotel. When we needed to go to a bank downtown, the hotel sent a security guard with us. On the one day we did walk, it was quite scary, to be honest. Once we took the advice of using taxis, there was plenty to do.

I honestly wouldn't advise you go. I loved the rest of S.A. I did not love Durbsn, despite it being utterly beautiful

broadsheetbabe Wed 08-Oct-14 20:45:46

Cosmos, thanks for your really helpful reply. Granny's Pool Beach sounds lovely, just what we'd be looking for in somewhere to stay. I'll Google it...

We'll be in SA for three weeks, so perhaps it may be better to do just one week in the Durban area and then head back down to Addo (DS has been nagging about a return trip). We could then head along to Kynsna before heading back up to Durban. Worth a thought!

DH wants to visit Rorke's Drift but I'm afraid DS will not be so enthusiastic - bless him! I'd like to visit a Big 5 game park in the KwaZulu too (we did do a safari in Feb).

Your reply contrasts enormously with that of chestnut100 - and it is this huge difference of opinion and experiences that is confusing me. chestnut, do you think it would be better to stay outside the city, say, in Umhlanga? When did you visit Durban? Where in the city did you stay?

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chestnut100 Wed 08-Oct-14 21:50:03

I was there about 3 years ago. To put things in perspective, I do think that what perhaps made us appear slightly vulnerable was that it was me and a (female) friend travelling together. Both relatively young and blonde. It would be quickly apparent we were foreigners. We stayed in quite an upmarket hotel in town and I think all the advice we were given was with the best of intentions, even if we were slightly terrified!

I found it a huge contrast to Cape Town and Johannesburg, where we moved about freely and felt as safe as I do in say, London

Thereshallbeaspirin Wed 08-Oct-14 21:55:32

I wouldn't stay in Durban itself (just not nice any more) but Ballito is great - either self catering or (if money no object) Zimbali lodge -tis one of my top 5 fave hotels in the world.

Garden route in August can be wet and miserable and a bit like March weather in England.

broadsheetbabe Thu 09-Oct-14 18:33:58

Thanks chestnut. Unfortunately, I would not provoke such a reaction - young and blonde, I wish! smile But perhaps it may be best to stay outside of the city and venture in to visit touristy bits in daylight.

Thereshallbeaspirin, thanks for the tip. I'll check out Ballito. Our August dates are forced upon us by the fines imposed on taking DS out of school term time. That's why I thought Durban and the KwaZulu Natal may be better weather wise in August. There's always the Easter hols but that leaves less time to save up.

I'm more concerned about safety than weather though, especially taking DS with us.

I am so undecided. I usually make up my mind and that's it, but this time I am torn by such conflicting experiences and advice.

OP’s posts: |
C0smos Thu 09-Oct-14 18:47:57

I think there is a big difference between safety whilst staying in a durban vs the north coast towns (not familiar with south coast e.g margate so can't comment.)
Durban is fine to visit for the day - you'll go there for the aquarium but I would not to stay there or stroll round by myself.
I felt very safe in Ballito, it is fairly small town and has a lovely small coastal vibe to it. The boardwalk I mentioned was full of people walking, jogging etc and lots of locals so that's a good sign. The surfers were out in force from 6am.

Umhlanga is bigger and busier so probably a bit less safe but I didn't feel unsafe there.
If you are not sure then book into zimbali if you can afford it, you might get a cheap deal in august, or there are lots of complex type places with more security.

I have stayed at both the Boulders and the Grange apartments, direct access to the beach, gated parking areas, security doors etc.

I live in Johannesburg on a gated estate with armed guards so I take safety seriously and I wouldn't stay somewhere that felt unsafe.

Hope this helps.

broadsheetbabe Thu 09-Oct-14 19:34:59

Bless you cosmos Your comments have reassured me. smile I'm off to research accommodation in Ballito. Do you know, do tour companies work out there? Im thinking of the battlefields and, of course, a Zulu village.

OP’s posts: |
TheHobbit Thu 09-Oct-14 19:42:00

I've got a guest house in Ransgate and hour from Durbs. Its right on the beach and has a swimming pool. Durbs is awesome live there most of my life. I had perceptions that everything us so unsafe. Nothings ever happened to me in SA yet I wss mugged and robbed 4 times in London. Let me know if you want a link to the guest house. You could also rent my partners house. It's also by the beach and has a pool and jacuzzi.

TheHobbit Thu 09-Oct-14 19:43:16

Sorry pressed post too soon. My partners house is let out as a holiday let for the whole house meaning you will be the only ones there.

FumblesandFrolics Thu 09-Oct-14 23:34:36

Tbh I have also felt more unsafe in parts of London than in Durban, although admittedly I probably wouldn't want to wander around parts of the city centre for long.

Umhlanga is very touristy and most if the hotels are on or near the beach so family friendly, it's also quite well patrolled so I have always felt quite safe there.

School hols also dictating when we go this year - opting for Easter for the warmer weather wink

PestoSurfissimos Fri 10-Oct-14 09:41:42

Scottburgh, South of Durban is my favourite beach smile There was Croc World near there too, which is good for a day out.

We also liked Umhlanga & have been to the Natal Sharks Board there. Worth going and watching a dissection grin

Go North to Pietermatizberg for Zulu stuff, it's very interesting and worth seeing the Drakensberg mountains too if you get time.

There was a nice Birdland place in Durban too, if I remember rightly. Kloof Gorge worth a walk and Howick Falls north of Durban is worth visiting too.

SophieBarringtonWard Tue 14-Oct-14 20:58:57

We went to KZN during August, the weather was MUCH better than Cape Town (flew up from CT). Really enjoyed it.

DurbanDad Tue 06-Sep-16 01:50:12

Great City, lots to do and you are not far from mountains, the big 5, corals reefs
Crime is relatively high but you are safe if you get advise from travel agents and tour operators. Don't go exploring on your own without doing research.
The beaches are great for kids, Ushaka Marine world is educational and a lot of fun

Mother Nurture Durban
Infant Massage

DurbanDad Tue 06-Sep-16 01:55:58

Durban is a great city
Lots to do for the whole family
warm ocean, lovely beaches with golden sand
Ushaka Marine world is educational and great fun
it is only a couple hours drive South to the wild coast, a couple hours drive North to big five game parks and coral reefs
Crime is high but get advise from tour operators and travel agents and don't explore on your own without thorough research and you will be fine

Mother Nurture Durban
Infant Massage

nearlyhellokitty Sat 04-Mar-17 13:11:08

hello! resurrecting this because we're heading to durban this summer. Then going down the coast southwards, so interested in a cool place to stay with the kids along the hibiscus coast. something not too expensive, relaxed, maybe surf lessons for them? any thoughts or wisdom???

I was definitely thinking of staying a night or two in Durban becasue we'll be exhausted from the flight and won't want to immediately get in a hired car (plus i'm keen to try out the indian food!)

Will then go further down to port st johns, etc before ending in East London.

nearlyhellokitty Sat 04-Mar-17 13:11:50

ps any recommendations on a nice place to stay in Durban with the kids? Where we can recover from the flight?

ShangriLaLaLa Sun 05-Mar-17 21:26:57

If you're going to Rorke's Drift, the Fugitives' Drift Lodge is lovely and the guides fantastic. I will never forget seeing the sun go down on Rorke's Drift - very emotional.

Much preferred Umhlanga to Durban itself too.

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