One of my favorite tours to conduct is a Durban City Day Tour. I love Durban city, the old Victorian style architecture mixed with the Miami-esque art deco and modern architecture; the bustle of people on the street. I even enjoy the crazy mini-bus taxi’s as they dive into non-existent gaps in the traffic (well maybe not so much them). It is a big difference to our usual calm and relaxed bush veld safari tours.
Day Tour of Durban City
I collected my group of clients from their cruise ship at the harbor. The early settlers to Durban had to transfer from their ships into longboats which more often than not upended in the surf leading to those early settlers arriving dripping wet and probably quite unnerved. Since the sandbar was cleared in the late 1880’s it did mean my group were able to step ashore without a drenching!
Our first stop was at the Vasco De Gama clock. Gifted to Durban by Portugal in 1897, the clock is a memorial to the naming of “Natal” by the explorer in the 15th century. The monument was actually created in a foundry in Scotland. Today the clock is not looking very healthy, but plans are underway to restore it.
Vasco De Gama, John Ross and Dick King
We also chatted about John Ross (prompted by the statue in John Ross House), as well as Dick King (his statue further down the road). I like to go into Wilsons Wharf as well simply because it give a lovely view of Durban’s original beachfront until the stench and sharks from the whaling station encouraged bathers to look elsewhere to go swimming.
Another feature at Wilson’s Wharf is Salisbury Island, where the University College for Indians was established in 1961 (closed down in 1971). Nearby is Albert Park which most people don’t know was actually the site of short but fierce battle between Boer and British in the 1830’s.
Durban City Hall
My favorite part of the city was next, Durban City Hall. Completed in 1905 and bears a strong resemblance to the Belfast city hall. It’s not surprising since the competition to design the building was extended to both architects and South African and Great Britain. What is great about this building is that it was the first public building in South Africa with a statue of a black male on the facade. I wont spoil the fun by telling you where he is, I’ll leave it for you to find (and while you’re about it, see if you can find the Indian lady!).
St.Emmanuel’s Cathedral and Juma Masjid Mosque
St. Emmanuel’s cathedral was next on our list, with the Juma Masjid Mosque up next (also known as the Grey Street Temple). Then it’s just a short hop and ship over to the Victoria Street Market. Opened in 1910, the market is built to look like an Indian palace stands on the site the original indentured Indians once traded. The original building was destroyed in a fire in 1973 and re-built in it’s current format. The market is home to a number of spice, jewelry and clothing traders and is always busy.
Moses Mabhida Stadium and uShaka Marine World
The Moses Mabhida stadium was next on our list. Unfortunately on arriving, the queue fro the funicular car was at least 45min long, so the group decided they were happy to just view the stadium and were quite keen to stop for lunch. We decided to go to Blue Zoo in Mitchels Park, and enjoyed a lovely lunch on the patio overlooking the park.
There was just one for stop to go after lunch, my guests wanting to have a look at uShaka Marine World. So I drove them along Durban’s “Golden Mile“, stopping every now and again so they could pop out and make small purchases from the traders.
When we finally got to uShaka, we were lucky to view some Zulu dancers had just begun a traditional dance at the entrance. I filled a little of it while my guests dispersed into the crowds to do a little shopping.
At 3:30pm everyone was back at the van and quite thoroughly exhausted (shopping does that to you!). It was back to the ship some 10 min away where my clients departed with a smile and wave for their next destination in East London.
Book a Durban City Day Tour
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Country and Coastal Touring are registered tour guides and operators based in the city of Durban. We offer a range of day tours, overnight tours and multi-day tours. We also plan bespoke tours for those looking for something different.