As I suspected, today was a nice day, but didn't carry the same level of excitement as yesterday. I woke up in my little Zulu hut to the sound of a Zulu warrior playing the guitar outside. This, in Shakaland, is known as an early morning wake up call! Hut duly vacated, I have to admit to being a little sad to leave. It really has been quite an experience.
We depart from Shakaland and make our way to Durban. The landscape changes dramatically as we move away from little huts interspersed on the hillsides, to a modern built city on the coast.
Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu Natal, and the third largest city in South Africa after Jo'Burg and Cape Town. It is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. On arriving in the city, the Group are immediately taken on a 3 hour city tour in the bus, but it immediately becomes apparent that this is not a very nice city, nor a very safe one. Our guide, Nigel, does not talk positively about Durban; once a popular coastal destination, it has in recent times fallen into ill repute with prostitution, muggings etc all too common. Now predominantly occupied by Indians, businesses have moved out into the suburbs, and tour operators no longer allow any of their guests to stay in central hotels. Whilst a concerted effort was made to clean up the city in advance of the world cup in 2010 and police presence significantly increased, it will take some time for the city to be restored to its former glory, if indeed it ever does.
We drive along the beach front, known as the Golden Mile, and it feels a little like Africa's version of Blackpool. A line of hotels face out towards the sea, and all along the promenade market traders sell their wares. An intimidating scene, I'm sure it wouldn't take long to lose your purse wandering along here. I'm relieved we aren't given the opportunity to get off the bus - seeing it on the move is enough for me!
After travelling the Golden Mile, we veer off onto some of the other side roads in Durban and it becomes quite apparent just how run down the city is - rubble, graffiti, run down shop fronts, derelict buildings - not exactly a tourist magnet! It is quite clear that Nigel is not comfortable here as the only place he lets us off the bus is the university grounds, entered by a secure gate, where there is a reasonable photo opportunity of the Durban Docks.
Back into the security of the bus and the next stop is Durban Botanical Gardens which is - well very nice, although in fairness, which botanical gardens aren't nice? There's the opportunity to get a few snaps of the local birdlife, such as this juvenile Egyptian Goose.....
......and this Black Spur-winged goose.
It was Nigel's intention to go to the Moses Mabhida Stadium and give the group the option to take a cable car ride to the top. As it happens it's a long weekend here in South Africa this weekend and so we spotted the queues for the cable car well before we reached the stadium. So a quick group consensus was reached that we would skip the ride - just as well really given my faint head for heights! So with that we we made our way to our hotel in Umhlanga in the suburbs of Durban.
The rest of the day was spent chillaxing in the hotel. With the pace of the tour as it is, you really do need to take any opportunity you can to relax. Durban has been a bit of a let down for me in all honesty, but tomorrow is another day.
Thanks for reading.