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FFor a few Durban locals, riding a rickshaw along the Golden Mile (promenade) brings back fond childhood memories. This unique attraction has formed part of the fabric of Durban for well over a century and continues to this day. What can’t be missed is definitely the colourfully decorated headdress, which is unique to each rickshaw puller. In 1902 there were around 2000 registered rickshaw pullers who provided Durban’s primary mode of transport around the city centre and harbour.
Sadly, there are only about 20 rickshaws (two-wheeled passenger carts pulled by one person) operating along the Durban beachfront today, but what they lack in numbers, the brightly attired pullers make up for in enthusiasm for their trade and pride in their traditional outfits.
EEach rickshaw is decked out in a unique mix-and-match patchwork of primary colours, while the owner wears an impressive headdress of his own creation, adorned with mirrors, feathers, coloured wool and beads.
These rickshaw guys take you up and down the Durban beachfront. The ride is usually fairly short, from 10 to 15 minutes, and you’ll pay anything from R30 to R100, depending on the number of passengers and the distance travelled.
SSit back and relax as your rickshaw puller trots along, seemingly effortlessly pulling his load behind him. Every now and then he’ll yodel and tip you backwards, with the rickshaw landing safely on a rear wheel, which is set back from the two large main wheels.
The first time is a little hair-raising, but it becomes a lot more enjoyable as your trip progresses. Once you reach your destination, usually back at the starting point, request permission to pose with your transporter for photographs. The nominal fee to do so is approximately R10.
Along the rickshaw route you’ll see pockets of local women selling handmade crafts, beadwork, wooden sculptures, beach towels, sandals and mementos. Buying something from them is a way of giving back to the Zulu community. Durban rickshaws are a great way to see the famous Golden Mile and to participate in an honourable tradition.