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Bamukelekile!!! Touring the beautiful KwaZulu Natal – Durban #TraveltoSA

Yes, I have been to South Africa a few times, visiting cities like Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Johannesburg for various reasons. Thus, for me SA has always been my ‘Little Europe’ – beautiful with functional infrastructure.  But when South African Tourism invited me to Durban (KwaZulu Natal Province) for the first time, I knew […]

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Yes, I have been to South Africa a few times, visiting cities like Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Johannesburg for various reasons. Thus, for me SA has always been my ‘Little Europe’ – beautiful with functional infrastructure.  But when South African Tourism invited me to Durban (KwaZulu Natal Province) for the first time, I knew it would be an experience that stands out. Not only did I get to see the beautiful city in terms of its massive infrastructure but also its immense tourist attractions, history and cultural significance.

Bamukelekile- a welcome to sun, sea, sharks and more!!!

After arriving at the King Shaka International Airport (named after the widely known King of the Zulus), our Tour Operator, Clifford (www.jikelezatours.co.za) took us to our hotel. We checked in at the Tsogo Sun Elangeni & Maharani Hotel to freshen up and kick off our tour. Of course I took a moment to take in the sheer magnificence of the hotel, situated on the spectacular Durban beachfront before checking into my room. Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani is undoubtedly the brightest star on Durban’s Golden Mile. The city’s finest beaches lie metres away, from the long boardwalk and many other local attractions. With a total of 734 rooms available within Elangeni & Maharani Tower, the spacious en-suite rooms are beautifully furnished in a modern style, and are equipped with amenities such as air-conditioning, tea and coffee making facilities, electronic safe, complimentary WiFi and more (well I was not able to use certain websites like YouTube since they were blocked to save bandwidth).  The hotel has no fewer than three swimming pools (one heated), and a state-of-the-art gym (which I sneaked in and out every night for my self-styled workouts  …haha).city tour (3)

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After freshening  up  a bit, we got on the tour bus and headed for a City Tour to introduce us to the city’s best attractions and treasured history including the beachfront, Emmanuel Cathedral, Victoria Street Market, Burman Bush, Blue Lagoon and others. We made a stop at the Moses Mabhida Stadium and it was particularly interesting to see how it was being used for tourism purposes. The stadium has plenty restaurants open to the public even when there are no matches at the stadium, and there is a skycar for a jolly good ride on top of the stadium.  The funicular carries visitors from the north side of the stadium to a viewing platform at the top of the arch, offering a view over the city and ocean. The south side features a 550-step adventure walk. The stadium also boasts of having the world’s largest swing, which allows guests to jump off the 4th ladder rung and fall toward the pitch before being swung out in a 220-metre (720 ft) arc over the pitch.

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a view of the Moses Mabhida Stadium from up a ridge

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Clifford our T.O

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our tour driver

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view of the city from a ridge top

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view of the city from a ridge top

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The skycar at Moses Mabhida Statdium

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angle of the Moses Mabhida Stadium

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stadium for local Rugby team, The Sharks

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We then headed to the Ushaka Marine World for lunch at the Moyo restaurant under the very inviting breeze from the beach before our  Ushaka Marine World Tour. UShaka has fast positioned itself as a key attraction on Durban’s Golden Mile, offering a world of entertainment, excitement, fun and uniqueness. UShaka Marine World models itself as a water themed park and boasts of a variety of attractions – the top six being Wet & Wild, Sea World, Village Walk, uShaka Kids World, UShaka Beach and Dangerous Creatures.  We entered the Sea World, which is modelled after a shipwreck.  As we entered, we were met with the skeleton of a whale which had been persevered for many ears, before making our way into the aquariums which hold many wonderful and amazing sea creatures including fishes, sharks, crustaceans and more.  We then did the Village Walk before heading back to our hotel.

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Ushaka Seaworld Shipwreck Aqauriums

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The Zulu experience…the wild experience!!!
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So since we were in the KwaZulu Province, our visit would have been incomplete without experiencing some Zulu culture. On the second day of our visit, we headed to the Phezulu Safari Park.  At Phezulu village, the world famous Gasa clan has over the last 30 years, allowed the opportunity to savour the taste and feel of their culture. We were taken into traditional beehive shaped thatched huts, where the various artefacts, beliefs and rituals were explained.  We experienced the famous Zulu dancing, with dancers in their traditional garb, showing off their skills with grace, agility and humour. They performed for us a dance presentation of what  a typical Zulu marriage ceremony looks, from the proposal to the union of the two families. The three-day wedding involves several activities including the groom, presenting the bride price – Lobola – of eleven cows to his bride’s parents. After witnessing the dance, we moved to the reptile park where we checked out crocodiles, tortoises, snakes and some wild lizards before heading on a fun Safari. Phezulu has a one hour scenic Game drive situated in the middle of the Valley of a1000 Hills. On the drive we saw several wildebeest, impala, blesbok, zebra and giraffe. We were taught about medicinal plants in the area including the poisonous tree which King Shaka used to smear around his spear during his battles.  After the breath-taking drive, we had lunch at the Boma Restaurant, which serves meals ranging from Traditional Zulu meals or Crocodile steaks to toasted sandwiches and burgers. I hard pick up and upset tummy from heavy drinking the previous night so, I just went for a simple ‘Village Salad’ with potato chips.

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All on-board the choo choo train!!!!

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Day 3 of our tour started off bright and early as we headed out of the city for the Umgeni Steam Railway excursion train from Kloof to Inchanga. We had to leave early in order to catch the Inchanga Choo Choo train which goes through the valley of 1000 hills once a month – perfect for escaping the hustle and bustle of city living. When we arrived at Inchanga, we went through the open market and picnic area, and saw the model trains on the Umgemi Stream Railway before heading back to Kloof.
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We then drove into the Umlazi Township for lunch at Max’s Lifestyle. A hugely popular venue, Max’s Lifestyle is one of the best restaurants in Umlazi, with traditional “Kasie” culture, where one can enjoy, feel, and experience unique township culture in an upmarket, trendy and safe surroundings.  Fortunately we were there for their popular Sunday sessions where Top DJ’s entertain guests.  We had some drinks and enjoyed our lunch which featured chicken, pork, liver and meat cooked on a “Braai” (Barbeque) with bread and pap on the side. After the lunch we took a ride through the township before heading back to the hotel.

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With all the fun sight-seeing, my introduction to Durban had been more than impressive. And as I left the Golden Mile of Durban, I could hear the breeze whistling to me, ‘Hambani Kahle’ but I know it will not be the last time I visit. To South Africa Tourism, Jikeleza Tours and the city of Durban, I say ‘Ngiyabonga’ till we meet again!!!

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