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FFourth-largest in the southern hemisphere, this 21km-wide port features 58 berths and is serviced by more than 20 terminal operators. A technically advanced tracking system facilitates processing of more than 30-million tons of cargo every year.
The port of Durban is the largest shipping terminal on the African continent and remains open round the clock, 365 days a year. Its strategic location along international shipping routes has secured the port’s importance as South Africa’s main cargo and container port, which handles about 32-million tons of cargo annually. It is also the 4th-largest container terminal in the southern hemisphere and is visited by 4 500 commercial vessels every year.
The distance across the port is 21km, railway tracks total 302km and the port has 58 berths – each 148m to 350m long and up to 12.2m deep – serviced by more than 20 terminal operators.
The quay features more than 8ha of storage facilities, road and rail access, inspection facilities, an administration block, state-of-the-art cargo-tracking system, CCTN surveillance monitoring and floodlit security fencing.
Strategic points in the harbour include Pier No 1, Pier No 2, Point, T-Jetty, Cross Berth, Island View, Bluff, Bayhead and Maydon Wharf. The harbour also features a dedicated berth for bunkering, operated by Sapref and a single-buoy mooring at Isipingo for large crude carriers. During World War II Sunderland and Catalina flying boats ran reconnaissance duties from their Bayhead base, a role that carried on well into the 1950s.
Cruise ships are catered for at the port of Durban’s passenger terminal facility at N Shed, while quays for commercial fishing operations are based in the Silt Channel and at Maydon Wharf.
One of the more recent port developments is the Durban Car Terminal, a world-class facility that handles 60 000 vehicles a year. The terminal infrastructure includes a 380m bridge linking the terminal to the quayside, and 6 500 parking bays. Another improvement was widening the harbour entrance channel to 222m and increasing the depth to 19m at the outer entrance.
The National Ports Authority operates a fleet of tugs, and a pollution boat named Udonti also serves the port. Although Durban harbour boasts a fully equipped diving team, private concerns also provide commercial diving services.
Salisbury Island, a former naval base, today hosts visiting warships of the South African and foreign navies, but there are discussions to revert back to full naval status at some point in the future.
Ship repair facilities are provided at Prince Edward Graving Dock, 2 floating docks and at a dedicated slipway, and the National Sea Rescue Institute runs deep-sea and small craft from a modern base at the Point.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
The Durban Harbour
Tel: +27 (0)31 361 3755
How to get here
Take the N3 down to Durban from inland or the N2 North or N2 South arterial routes, heading for the city of Durban. Entrance to the passenger terminal is from Margaret Mncadi Avenue; to the harbour is from Mahatma Gandhi Street, and to the yacht mole, small craft harbour and Wilson's Wharf is from Margaret Mncadi Avenue, also known as the Esplanade.
Best time to visit
All year round. The harbour remains open all day, every day of the year.
Things to do
Tours to do
Take a boat cruise from the small craft site around the harbour out to sea or join the Sharks Board crew at dawn as they go out to check the shark nets.
While some parts of the harbour remain off limits to visitors for security reasons, other areas are readily accessible on foot.
What to eat
Waterside restaurants around the harbor or on the pier are popular places to eat.
African curios are sold at Wilson's Wharf in a small commercial zone, along with leather goods, clothing and knick-knacks.