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Tourists mostly visit the so-called Golden Mile along Durban beach, a collection of hotels, tourist attractions and entertainment centers. South African cities are not the safest in the world and Durban is no exception. Many visitors feel - outside the Golden Mile - unsafe (see the warnings under 'Parking').
That Golden Mile happens to be much longer than a mile: nearly 4 miles of beach and entertainment, from the Suncoast Casino in the north to uShaka Marine World in the south. In addition to swimming and sunbathing you can windsurf, kite-surf, snorkel or dive for shipwrecks. The giant aquariums of uShaka Marine World give you an impression of the marine life. Not only the coast waters of South Africa have been imitated, other seas in other parts of the world are represented here too. You can even dive in the aquariums to see the sharks from up close. A nice water park is connected to Marine World, the Wet n' Wild Waterpark with various water attractions and spectacular slides. Boat tours are organized from Marine World to admire whales and dolphins in open water.
The Botanical Gardens of Durban, in Greyville, are among the best in the world and certainly are the best of the whole of Africa with an enormous collection of continental flowers and plants. The gardens are over 160 years old and aside from learning a lot about the African flora, they also offer a laid-back setting for picnics. Or for taking bridal photos. Especially on Saturdays there are large numbers of newly weds in the gardens.
The KwaMuhle Museum is housed in the building that used to be the Department of Native Affairs. Black South Africans who wanted to work in Durban first had to report in this building for a work permit. This 'Durban System' was the blueprint for the later nationally introduced apartheid. In this museum you will learn all about this system, how it worked and how it financed itself because the municipality had a monopoly on brewing... beer.
At the port of Durban is the BAT Center Restaurant. BAT stands for Bartle Arts Trust and is a center for South African musicians and other artists. There are galleries, concert halls and a shop with musical instruments. The restaurant serves African meals and a jazz band plays on Sundays.
The Durban Art Gallery has a large collection of art from Africa, Asia and Europe, from the fifteenth century to the present. There are often changing exhibits. The permanent exhibition includes a beautiful collection of Zulu art.
West-southwest of Durban lie the whimsical Drakensbergen which form the border with Lesotho. The fierce peaks of these mountains reach 3500 meters of height. It is an Eldorado for outdoor sports enthusiasts: climb mountains, make long treks, or master the mountain passes with a four wheel drive. In the Giant's Castle Reserve live many birds of prey, including the Cape vulture, the Snake Eagle and the Lanner Falcon. The Bushmen who lived here centuries ago left thousands of colorful rock drawings. Via the treacherous Sani Pas at more than 3000 meters altitude you can reach the Kingdom of Lesotho. You are here at The Roof of Africa. Only for highly experienced drivers! The treacherous part of the pass is not only in the steep, narrow road with hairpin curves, but especially in the weather that can change very abruptly.
The Valley of a Thousand Hills lies closer to Durban, at about a half hours drive. In this beautiful valley in the heart of KwaZulu Natal you get to know the Zulu culture. You can also view the valley from the sky using an ultralight airplane, or throw a fishing rod in one of the lakes.
South Africa is the country of wildlife reserves. The most fascinating reserves are more to the north, but the you have the opportunity to see the 'Big Five' in the province of KwaZulu Natal as well. In the Nature Reserve Hluhluwe & Umfolozi. This wild park lies 270 kilometers north of Durban and exists of the valley of the river Hluhluwe, where many white and black rhinos live, and the more rugged Umfolozi.
It is definitely not recommendable to park your rental car on the streets of Durban. Choose a parking garage or a guarded car park. Always keep your windows and doors locked. Pay attention at night near a red traffic light: if there are people hanging around, it's better to slowly drive through the red light than to stop.
The new Durban Airport was opened in 2010 for the Soccer World Cup and is officially named King Shaka International Airport. It is usually referred to as La Mercy Airport, to its location, 35 kilometers north of Durban. The airport is easily accessible with a rental car using the N2 motorway. The exit to the airport is clearly signposted.