Durban is the sultry capital of KwaZulu/Natal Province, but something of a poor style relation of Cape Town. It is loud, disreputable, a little tattered at the edges, cultivates marijuana instead of vineyards, and languishes under the hot Indian Ocean skies in beach sandals, a sarong and sunglasses. It has traditionally been the holiday Mecca for working class whites from Johannesburg and Pretoria, and still has tourism. However, many of Durban’s traditional visitors now head south away from an increasingly run down, crowded and dangerous esplanade.
One of South Africa’s principal cities, with a population over 3 million, and the busiest port in Africa Durban is distinctly different from Cape Town with its mild sub-tropical climate and high summer rainfall that helps to keep the sounding countryside green and lush year round. Many of the surrounding suburbs are in the verdant hill country surrounding the city, with superb gardens and satellite neighborhoods; all packed with a variety of different accommodation options. The Golden Mile Beachfront is a 1970s style waterfront neighborhood that has been maintained by the city in fits and starts, but on the whole is diminishing slowly as the city centre gathers a reputation for crime and sleaze.
South Coast beaches have always been clean and well maintained considering the size of the city and the degree of development. The beachfront is still a very popular destination, with a vibrant California style café culture, and a much more noticeably black aspect than Cape Town. The demographics of Durban are 68% black, 20% Indian, 9% white, and 3% colored, which gives the city a far more obvious black African texture than Cape Town, with the East Indians forming the largest single Indian community in the world outside of India, and contributing in color and flavor far more than the whites and blacks combined.
The city is a great place to stay for a day or two between trips or to make plans to head north or south. While at one time it was a destination in itself, these days it makes more sense to head out of town in the direction of one of the many beach resorts that line the coast. If you have a few days to spare then an absolute must is to sample local Indian cuisine at any number of good restaurants scattered around town. It is fun to spend a few hours on the waterfront to take in a little of the local color, or to check out the handful of local exhibitions and museums.
If you are a surfer almost all of Durban’s beaches have a surfing angle, and if you are cultural enthusiast there are a handful of mosques and temples worth visiting. The recent development of IShaka Marine World is another California type spectacle, but is definitely worth a visit to get a feel of the local marine habitat. Diving, dolphin cruises and game fishing charters are all available from the city, but again it makes more sense to organize your excursions elsewhere along the coast.
Durban has had a long football history. The first league was started in the KwaZulu-Natal Province. The biggest match the city has hosted was when South Africa played a full strength England national team in 2002. Durban was also the venue for South Africa's first post-apartheid game when they played Cameroon, winning1-0 at King's Park. The city also hosted group, quarter and semi-final matches during the 1996 CAF Africa Cup of Nations. Tunisia secured their place in the final when they beat Zambia 4-2.
The new Durban stadium will pick up where King's Park left off and provide a world-class venue for football games. It will be have a gross seating capacity of 70,000, and the design of the stadium will be characterized by two large archways which arc 100 meters above the stadium roof.
The new three-tiered stadium will be part of the Durban's King Park sporting precinct. The sporting precinct will also include a variety of different sporting disciplines including athletics, rugby, golf and swimming.