Entering South Africa’s Kingdom of the Zulu, through the city of Durban, you stumble upon a vibrant city. It has the underlying feel of a holiday town—just a little out of step from the rest of the world. There is a unique flavor to Durban, a subtle mix of ocean salt and fragrant spices, brought to you on a heated breeze. It’s the warmth of human skin gently touched by sun and the limitlessness of open spaces. It’s the color of bright, blinding yellow, vivid green and the blue of ocean meeting sky.
Visit the Valley of A Thousand Hills
The Zulu Kingdom’s most notorious historical resident was the bloodthirsty warrior chieftain, Shaka Zulu, whose name even today strikes fear in the hearts of locals. Phe-Zulu in the Valley of A Thousand Hills, provides a taste of tribal dancing, stick-fighting and singing. Gazing out past the dancers at the backdrop of the endless hills, you get the feeling you have stepped back in time, to a bygone era and a simpler age.
Melodious singing often gets the crowd clapping along with the dancers, and it isn’t long before laughing children and semi-reluctant parents are encouraged up onto the floor to learn some of the traditional moves. While the kids gleefully kick their legs up to head height and wave their arms in time with the drum beat, Mom and Dad’s attempts are usually a tad less supple. Just congratulate yourself on being a joiner!
The children hunch down to explore the village huts and try the bitter, home-brewed beer. Naturally when told it is beer they have a large taste, but when you see their faces screwed up in horror you will understand why they won’t be developing a problematic taste for the beverage.
The scenic Valley of a Thousand Hills also has a crocodile farm with some large inhabitants. Lying still in their enclosures, these ancient beasts look fairly harmless until they move, often startling a shriek or two out of young spectators with their sheer strength.
Marine animals galore!
Durban’s lovely Golden Mile stretches from Ushaka Marine World north to Blue Lagoon. Start at Ushaka with a visit to the Marine World and Wet and Wild water-park. The state-of-the-art shipwreck-themed aquarium has dolphin and seal shows for the youngsters and the many tanks display everything from the gentle sea-horse to large fish, sting-ray and turtles, all seen from below water level. The novelty of being “underwater,” in a “ship” has an eerie, magical quality to it, and the effect on little people is rather interesting—they actually quiet down. The aquarium will be the perfect introduction to the beach at Ushaka.
Discover Durban’s many influences
Outside of India, Durban is home to the largest Indian population and a curry, or “bunny chow” is a must while visiting. A “bunny” is a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with curry and using the bread as a scoop and your fingers, you and your kiddos will really enjoy this local feast. Keep your Coke at the ready to dowse any fires and make sure you stress you want a mild one for the kids
Durban provides an active family vacation for all ages, with its modern and historical influences. From here it is easy to access the Province’s game reserves, mountains and battlefields which add to the uniqueness of this holiday destination.
Michele Wright is a freelance travel writer and a native of South Africa. With family spread across the globe and a deep appreciation for new sights and sounds, travel is in her blood. Michele is mother to two “angelic” boys and blames her hubby for their mischievous genes. You can follow her on Twitter @michcarawright