Published: May 12th 2012May 7th 2012
After a great experience in Zimbabwe, the next stop on my trip was through Johannesburg again, to King Shaka International Airport in Durban. Durban is on the east coast of Africa and the main city in Kwa-Zulu Natal, historical home of the infamous Zulu tribes, among others. It's an oceanside town, with a much more tropical climate compared to most of South Africa and immediately as I touched down I felt the humidity. It was a change from the dryness of Zimbabwe's heat. I was picked up by the guesthouse I was staying at and realized I made a bit of a mistake when booking so last minute. Sadly, I was staying about 30 minutes outside of Durban in a suburb called Amanzimtoti, so making it to the heart of town was a bit of a costly effort, but luckily the guesthouse did offer a shuttle service which made it a bit more accessible. However, as I realized this, the laid back attitude of Durban's beach vibe had already infected me, so I just rolled with it and looked forward to a bit more relaxed pace. This entry may reflect this and be a little uneventful compared to others.
in a smaller guesthouse off the beaten path did have it's perks as I welcomed back amazing Afrikaner hospitality. The older couple who owned the guesthouse were very accommodating and as soon as I got the administration stuff out of the way, I was served some wonderful home made curry for dinner, which is typical in Durban, due to its East Indian influence. Like many other larger cities in South Africa, Durban is also quite multicultural and has a strong Eastern Asian community. However, also like many South African cities, there is an element of danger in going out alone at night, so it was off to bed early tonight.
Early in the morning, I organized myself out and sorted my two primary goals while in Durban, scuba diving and watching the Super 15 Rugby team, the Durban Sharks. After sorting out some related errands, I sent off to another main attraction of Durban, the beach. Luckily the small town of Amanzimtoti, had another perk, a more secluded beach, compared to up north a few km in Durban city. However, as I did this clouds began to roll in a bit, and it wasn't exactly sunbathing whether, so I
just chilled out in a seaside bar known as the thirsty whale. This would be a main attraction for me during my stay in the quiet town, which was fine by me. I walked up and down the quiet beach and felt more at home being next to the ocean. It was definitely nice to enjoy the idea of not having to do too much.
Saturday brought an exciting event for me, one I was looking forward to the whole trip, and that was watching a proper rugby match. I decided to be dropped off at the Shaka Marine world, which is the very famous aquarium/marine park. However, I decided to skip this attraction, as I was going diving tomorrow to experience ocean life without the restriction of tanks. I was told it was a nice walk up the beachside promenade from Shaka Marine to the rugby stadium, however wasn't told it was nearly 10km. Despite this, Durban chilled me out too much to really care and I thoroughly enjoyed the walk, checking out the beautiful beach, blue water, beachgoers and surfers along the way. This city has given birth to some of the top surfers in the world,
and it showed in some of the talent just off shore. As I approached the stadium, suited up in my official Sharks attire, I stopped by a pub to rehydrate and was invited to join a hookah session by a few Durbanites and shared some conversation. It was interesting to see hookah available for purchase at this quite average looking bar/restaurant. It was then off to see the Durban Sharks take on the Dunedin Highlanders from New Zealand in hopes of an important home team win. I got to my seat, continued to rehydrate (the long walk had me very thirsty) and enjoyed the game and banter versus a few Highlanders supporters sitting around me and very passionate Sharks fans. It was great seeing a proper rugby match live and the atmosphere in the Shark Tank was fabulous! Luckily, the Sharks came out on top in a decisive 28-16 win.
Seeing I saw the Sharks play on the field, I was hoping to see them next underwater and as I was diving the following day, I decided to behave myself and retire early. 5am came way to fast, and I was shuttled south to Aliwal Shoal, a fairly famous
dive site, in hopes of spotting some proper fish underwater. Getting the dive gear back on was very exciting and the group of divers I was with along with our dive master were great company! Getting back in the water wasn't too bad at about 22 degrees; however, it was a bit of a chilly day. We were introduced early on to a very large, chillin turtle, which enjoyed our company. There were many fish and the 8 meter visibility, wasn't the greatest, but still made for an enjoyable dive. Due to this, we did manage to spot a few large rays in the distance, however, couldn't get close enough for a good look. During our dive, I was thrilled to hear some dolphin sonar, as its one animal I would love to hang out with underwater. But, these dolphins were fairly antisocial and didn't come close to visit. As we surfaced, I could see their dorsal fins popping out of the water about 20 meters away, but I don't know if it really counts to say I swam with dolphins. Sadly, after our two tank dive, we didn't see any sharks either, but diving is never a bad experience, so it was definitely an excellent day!
That pretty much wrapped up my time in Durban, and I must say it was a unique town with a great, chilled out vibe. Next, it's off to what many South Africans describe as the greatest city in Africa... Cape Town.