20 July 2014 by Christine Marot

4 great Durban day trips

Durban is well connected to the North Coast and South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal province via the N2 road, and inland via the N3, which makes the prospect of an enjoyable day tour from Durban well within reach.

Looking down on the zigzagging Sani Pass. Photo courtesy of Vuiz Ha

KwaZulu-Natal is rich in Anglo-Zulu war memories, for it is here that two world-famous battles were waged between Zulu and Brit.

If history is your passion, a visit to the northern KwaZulu-Natal battlefields is a must. Invest in a formal tour, because a well-informed guide will recreate the battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift on the actual site where they were fought back in 1879.

Site of the battlefield at Rorke's Drift. Photo courtesy of Rob

Or you could escape up the zigzagging Sani Pass into the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho for a few hours. Travel via the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg World Heritage Site to get to the pass and don’t forget your passport for customs control.

This trip is best done in a 4x4, and there are many tour operators willing to take visitors to the 2 865m-high top. Apart from spectacular views down the pass into KwaZulu-Natal, the snow-covered plateau in winter is stunning.

Travel on a few kilometres to visit a Basotho village and sample homemade beer and bread, or pop into the highest pub in Africa at Sani Chalets. On the way home, take the Midlands Meander route and stop to shop for arts and crafts at more than 100 community outlets.

A rugged bakkie (utility vehicle) is best suited to a north-bound trip along the N2 to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, a game reserve that’s home to 84 species including the Big Five. A very early start to cover the three-hour drive to the game reserve will afford a day safari through hilly terrain and wide grasslands, making for great game viewing and birdwatching. More than 420 birds have been recorded in the park – how many can you spot?

A popular day tour in and around Durban highlights the cultural contrasts of this coastal city. Starting at Durban’s Golden Mile promenade skirting the city’s beaches, the tour takes in the KwaMuhle Museum, where historical records, exhibits and photographs reveal the city as it was under apartheid rule.

In welcome contrast, the next stop is at the tranquil Durban Botanic Gardens, founded in 1849, to sample the shade of magnificent old trees, manicured lawns and the beauty of the orchid house.

Lunchtime is opportune to sample a 'bunny chow' – an Indian curry and bread delicacy – before driving to the Moses Mabhida stadium. Take a trip to the top for a 360-degree view of the city and ocean, and stop to watch the bungee jumpers taking the plunge.

Looking over the ocean towards Moses Mabhida Stadium. Photo courtesy of Mohammed Moosa

End the day at uShaka Sea World with a visit to the biggest aquarium in the southern hemisphere, where dolphins, seals, penguins, hundreds of marine species and dangerous creatures may be seen.

Add the final touch to a magical day in Durban by enjoying the sunset as you sip on a cocktail at Moyo on the Pier, right outside the uShaka complex.

Ushaka divers hand-feed the rays at uShaka Sea World. Photo courtesy of Christine Marot

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