Durban Mini Guide
About the City
There are only two cities larger than Durban in South Africa. It was originally called Port Natal and today the city is a major port and tourist destination and home to South Africa’s largest Indian population.
It was first discovered by Vasco da Gama at Christmas in 1497 and so he gave it the Portuguese name for the season. In 1825 a small group of British soldiers landed here and claimed the territory. They were given 3,000 square miles of land by the Zulu King Shaka for saving his life from a stab wound. The city was named after the Governor of Cape Colony, Sir Benjamin D’Urban. It was taken by the Dutch before being recaptured by the British. During British rule the city came under attack from the Zulus and was completely evacuated. When normality was restored, sugar cane was cultivated here with Indian workers brought in to help.
King Shaka/La Mercy Airport is situated 25 miles north of the city and many international airlines fly here from countries such as the UK
. Taxis to the city are expensive but the airport shuttle is much more reasonable.
What to see in the City
The Hindu weddings which take place in the Botanical Gardens at the weekend are often a spectacular riot of colour to challenge the natural colours here. On the outskirts of the city you’ll find the settlement set up by Mahatma Gandhi to teach his followers. Tours of the settlement are available and give a fascinating insight to the man’s philosophy.
Outside the City
Crocodile Creek is a very different experience. Here, over 7,000 crocodiles of different types live in the creek. The centre works hard to conserve them and the visitor centre offers talks, slide shows and displays about the creatures. KwaZulu is also home to several national parks which are definitely worth a day’s drive.
Things to do
Of an evening you can chance your luck at the Sun Coast Casino or during the day walk the Golden Mile, the main tourist stretch of Durban and whilst here, sunbathe, swim or surf.
You have to visit the largest shopping mall in the southern hemisphere at Gateway Mall. Here, hundreds of shops combine with leisure activities including a skateboard park and artificial surfing reef. Essenwood Crafts have a lot of South African crafts and souvenirs, some from other African countries. You can haggle over the price there too.
Eating and Drinking
Durban, with its large Indian population, is famous for its curry and in particular the Bunny Chow, a bread bowl filled with curry. The best place for this is The Workshop. Also try some of the region’s delicious biltong for a real South African experience. In the city, The Firkin micro-brewery is famous for its ales.
Durban hosts many festivals, especially those linked to the Hindu population. There’s also an international poetry festival held in October each year and the Umhlanga Festival which in winter takes place on the beach and in summer is a jazz festival in the city streets. Finally, if you’re in Durban in September, get tickets for Awesome Africa, a world music festival very popular with local young people.
Durban Car Hire Q&A
|Q. Can I rent a 4x4 in Durban with Rhino?
A. Of course... we rent all types of cars including 4x4's
|Q. How much is the excess on car hire in Durban?
A. It varies from car type to car type, you can check under 'rate details' for each car type / class?
|Q. I need to rent a minibus / van in Durban, what is the biggest capacity vehicle you ren?
A. We offer 8 seat minibuses for rent in Durban and can sometimes arrange up to 12 seat vehicles
|Q. Can I book one way rental in Durban
A. Sure, one way rentals are no problem, you can return the car to any
other major locaion in South Africa, there is no extra charge.
Durban is developing as a tourist destination but remains most popular with domestic tourists. The Golden Mile is the main area with gorgeous beaches to tempt sun seekers and surfers and is crammed with attractions for visitors.
If shopping is your thing drive your hire car to the Gateway Theatre of Shopping for a day of retail therapy then follow it up with a night trying to win back what you’ve spent at the opulent Suncoast Casino. For those interested in history, visit the Mahatma Gandhi Settlement to see where the great leader formulated his ideology.