It’s surprising how much other countries can sometimes feel like home. Durban felt more like Melbourne than any other place we have travelled to so far.Whilst in South Africa we spent a few days in Durban, on the coast of the Indian Ocean. Only about a 50 minute flight from Johannesburg, Durban is known for being the busiest port in all of Africa. Our journey to Durban was mostly a cultural one. Thom’s family had come from Durban, and we wanted to explore this beautiful part of Africa.
Surprisingly, Durban reminded us so much of home it almost didn’t feel like Africa. We stayed at North Beach, Durban, and it was just beyond our expectations. The people were absolutely beautiful, we couldn’t get over the hospitality and friendliness of everyone we met. Customer service in hotels, restaurants and cafes was just so lovely, everyone really went out of their way to make sure you were having a nice time. The only thing that we found a little disheartening was how rude some of the locals were to the people serving them. There is definitely still an undertone of the separation of classes amongst the community that we just didn’t understand. In our mind, these people doing a wonderful job, and completely added to our whole Durban experience, and absolutely deserved to be tipped for their service.
North Beach in Durban seemed like the place to be! There were people of all different cultures and races enjoying the sun and being smashed by the giant Indian Ocean waves. We took a tour of North Beach and Durban Central on the local Rickshaw bus, which offered a guided tour of the area and provided us with lots of insight into Durban’s history. One of my favourite things about Durban was the markets lining the beach. I tend to avoid markets when on holidays due to the incessant haggling of vendors, but I couldn’t help myself in Durban. The souvenirs they were selling were all so beautiful and priced so well we didn’t even try and haggle. They deserved every dollar they were asking for them!
One of the highlights of our trip to Durban was Shakaland – a example of a Zulu village, set up to teach visitors about Zulu culture. It was a great experience to spend the day with a group of traditional Zulu people and learn about their culture and traditions. Shakaland is about a 2 hour drive from Durban, and includes a traditional meal and dance. The best part of the day for me was the dance. It included everyone who lived in Shakaland, including the kids, and they were just so adorable. You could tell they just loved doing this dance with their family, and their enthusiasm was so cute to watch!
Even though many people questioned our decision to visit Durban, we loved it. Not only did we get to experience Thom’s culture and visit with family members who still lived in Durban, but we got to visit a beautiful unique part of the world, with truly some of the friendliest people we have ever met!
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