The coastal city of Durban is the third most populous city in South Africa (after Johannesburg and Cape Town) and the biggest port city in South Africa. However, it is a vibrant tourist attraction with exquisite and extensive beaches, a vibrant night life and a plethora of tourist attractions. It is the South African City with the highest concentration of dollar millionaires and is recognised as one of the New7Wonder cities alongside Vigan, Doha, La Paz, Havana, Beirut and Kuala Lumpur.
Durban has a very long and chequered history, starting in 1822, when 2 ex-Royal Navy officers, who were trading between the Cape and Delagoa Bay, were caught in a bad storm. They decided to lay anchor in the Bay of Natal. They survived the storm with minor damage to their ships, and so, they decided to mark the bay on their maps.
In 1824, Lt. Farewell decided to use the Bay of Natal that he had previously marked on his map, as a launching point to open up trade negotiations with King Shaka. Involved in this trade deal and the negotiations to open up a trading port in the bay was a man named Henry Francis Fynn. On a visit to King Shaka, Henry managed to befriend the king by helping him recover from a stab wound that was the result of an assassination attempt. As a token of gratitude King Shaka awarded Fynn a 25-mile stretch of land along the coast, 100 miles deep. After negotiations, Fynn alongside 5 other colonisers raised the Union Jack on Port Natal. In 1835, it was decided that a capitol building should be built in this port, and it would be named d'Urban.
As one of the largest, oldest and most populous cities in South Africa, you would be correct in assuming that there are a multitude of tourist attractions and activities. Here are what our Durban Tours offer:
Durban City Tour
This 4 hour tour throughout Durban City will touch on the best that Durban has to offer. The following sites form part of the itinerary for the scenic experience:
Blue Lagoon on the Umgeni River, with its gorgeous view of the Durban Bay.
The Marine Parade, with its unique Rickshaws and beautiful beaches.
The New Point Waterfront, the busiest harbour in Africa with many cultural landmarks.
The City Centre with the original railway station, the Post Office and City Hall.
The Indian Market. Here you can immerse yourself in the Indian culture and buy spices aplenty.
The Botanical Gardens with trees, plants and flowers from all over the world.
The tour ends at uShaka Marine World, where you can choose to spend the rest of the day, should you so wish.
No visit to Durban could ever be complete without a visit to the uShaka Marine world. It does not matter whether you are from England, America or Australia, an entire aquarium built into the hull of an old cargo ship is sure to garner wide eyes and dropped jaws.
The uShaka Marine world boasts the largest aquarium in the southern hemisphere. It displays its unusual inhabitants through a 500 m stretch all incorporated into the ship. Each and every display manages to blend the natural environments of the sea creatures with the surrounding aesthetic and the story of the 'Phantom Ship'.
If you want to get even more 'up close and personal' with the denizens of the deep, uShaka offers Sea Animal Encounters. Just grab a mask and snorkel and you will be presented with the unique opportunity to snorkel amongst the fish in the snorkel lagoon. If your tastes are more mammalian in nature, you can meet a seal or a dolphin. You can feed both the fish and the rays! And, if you really want to get that adrenaline pumping, why not jump in a cage and dive with the sharks. Of course, then you even still have the opportunity to see how everything gets done with a back-of-house tour.
America may have SeaWorld… But, their dolphin shows better watch out as uShaka is hot on their heels with a dolphin show that is both entertaining and educational. With a stadium that houses 1 200 people, a dolphin lagoon, a seal lagoon and a penguin rockery; a day of learning has never been so fun-filled and awe-inspiring.
UShaka Marine world just keeps on giving. In addition to the aquarium there is also a fully equipped water theme park. The park houses 12 slides and 3 pools as well as grassy areas to lie down and catch a tan. There are numerous food stalls and a bar to have a cocktail while looking out to sea. Should you need that adrenaline rush uShaka is home to The Drop, the tallest slide in Africa. This 18 meter drop is sure to get that heart of yours beating up a storm.
The Valley of a 1 000 Hills Tour
The Valley of a 1 000 Hills Tour is a tour big on cultural experience. It takes place in the Kloof Area in Durban and allows you to immerse yourself in the Zulu Culture of the Region. There is a Sangoma visit as well as traditional Zulu dancing and other cultural demonstrations. On route back to Durban, there are stops at crocodile and snake farms to observe and learn about these aeons’ old creatures.
The Perfect Day Trip
This Day long tour starts off in the Natal Midlands, amidst grassy meadows filled with cattle and horses. The route then takes you through Underberg, a quaint village nestled in the foothills of the great Drakensberg Mountains. From there, Sani Pass is the next destination.
The Sani Pass and Lesotho day trip is a 4x4 enthusiasts dream. The mountain views are simply breath-taking, to say the least. And, you get to visit a traditional Sotho village and interact with the inhabitants, while learning all about their culture. Considering Lesotho is a separate country to South Africa, you get to check two countries off your bucket list in one day. Not only that, at 3 000 m above sea level you can enjoy a fresh beer and a good meal in Africa’s highest pub. It is the perfect daytrip for the adventurous solo traveller or family.
The Two-Day Drakensberg Tour
Should one not be satisfied with a single day in the mountains, there are longer tours available through the Drakensberg. The two-day tour spends more time going through the culture and history of the midlands, stopping at the railway station that Mahatma Ghandi was thrown off, and admiring the monument to Nelson Mandela. There is also opportunity to admire nature, as included there is a stop at the Howick Waterfall. The tour makes its way through Underberg and ends at the foot of the Drakensberg. The second day of the tour includes the Sani Pass trip, upon which it then returns to Durban.
The Three-Day Drakensberg Tour
The three-day Drakensberg tour is similar to the two-day tour. However, it dedicates a day to the Hike around Giants Rock. For the most part this relatively easy 3 000 m walk (with some steep inclines and rough terrain in places) showcases the best-preserved rock paintings in southern Africa. This tour also takes you through the Golden Gate national park and to Qwa Qwa, a former homeland. This tour does not include the Sani Pass trip though.
Find out more about the one-day, two-day and three-day tours.
Natal Battlefield Tours
Kwa-Zulu Natal has a rather bloody history as it played host to multiple wars. The Wars of King Shaka, the Anglo-Boer war and the skirmishes that happened between the Afrikaans settlers and the native communities all left their mark on the Kwa-Zulu Natal soil. The Natal Battlefield Tours explore the violent past that this region bore witness to. It also allows us to learn from the actions of these people hundreds of years in the past.
The one-day tour takes you past Isandlwana, where the Zulu's led a strong victory over the British. The next stop is Rorke's drift, the final stand and eventual victory of a handful of British Soldiers against several thousand Zulu Warriors. The final stop of the day is Chetswayo's Kraal, where the British took revenge on the Zulu's for the massacre at Isandlwana. Then the group returns to Durban.
The two-day tour leads us west of the Capital of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg. Here we visit:
- The railway station at which Mahatma Ghandi was forcibly evicted.
- We then visit the Church of The Vow that was built by the Voortrekkers as a consequence of the Battle of Blood River.
- We retrace the steps of Winston Churchill, Mahatma Ghandi and General Louis Botha on the hills where the Battle of Spionkop took place.
- We visit Siege Museum in Ladysmith and learn about the events of the Siege of Ladysmith.
- We visit the Talana Battlefield, where the first conflict in the Anglo-Boer War took place.
- We spend the night outside Dundee.
- On the second day we visit Rorke's Drift and Isandlwana where we learn more about the war between the Zulu's and the British.
- We also visit Umgungundlovu, the reconstructed home of Dingane as well as the grave of Piet Retief, before returning to Durban.
The three-day tour covers all the major points of the 1 and 2 day tours, as well as going to the Battle of Blood River battlefield and seeing a bronze recreation of the Boer laager used to fend off the Zulu Warriors.
Find out more about these historic one-day, two-day and three-day battlefield tours.
A trip to South Africa would simply not be complete without a game drive. Durban is ideally located to catch a glimpse of some of the Big 5, a must see and on the bucket list for everyone in the world. Due to the close proximity of game reserves like the Natal Lion Park and the Tala Game Reserves to Durban, these majestic beasts can easily be seen with a simple day trip from Durban Proper. This 'Mini Safari' also allows you to visit a couple of traditional Zulu villages or even to meet a Sangoma (traditional healer) and learn about the tribes that are endemic to the region. Southern Circle Tours and Safaris offers a variety of guided nature tours that cater to your specific time requirements, preferences and needs.
Southern Circle Tours and Safaris
Durban is not only a beautiful city; it is a cultural gem of South Africa. At Southern Circle Tours and Safaris, we endeavour to showcase the best that Durban has to offer with our world-class Durban Tours and leave you with a fulfilled holiday, rich with memories and experiences that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
At Southern Circle Tours and Safaris, we cater to all your needs. Whether you are looking for guided tours, self-drive packages or accommodation, hotel/airport transfers or the hire of a vehicle, we will handle all the admin and let you concentrate on having the time of your life. Find out more about us, or contact us with any questions you may have about your upcoming vacation.