Goal.com takes a look at one of the 2010 World Cup host cities, as the coastal city of Durban will play an important part in the greatest sho w on earth.
- second most populous city in South Africa – 3.5 million inhabitants
- located in KwaZulu-Natal Province
- busiest port in Africa
- city dates back to 1824
- seaside holiday resort
- large numbers of people of Indian origin
- located on the south east coast of the African continent
Surf City, Durban, with its sub-tropical climate, is located right on the warm Indian Ocean. Surfing is part of the city’s lifestyle with as many as 500 surfers enjoying the waves on a good weekend morning.
Durban will host preliminary games and one semi-final at the new King Senzangakhona stadium, being built for the 2010 tournament.
Seating around 70,000 it is situated one kilometre from the ocean in the central northern suburb of Stamford Hill, two and four kilometres respectively from the popular holiday locations of North Beach and South Beach, and close to the Northern Freeway which leads to Umhlanga Rocks and northern KwaZulu-Natal.
These areas have all ranges of accommodation, from five-star hotels to backpackers’ lodges and plenty of self-catering apartments. Bistros, pubs and restaurants abound.
Places of interest
The CBD, coach and rail stations are approximately four kilometres from the ‘leafy’ residential suburbs of the slightly elevated Berea and are the same distance to the south west. The fashionable holiday town of Umhlanga Rocks, with its select hotels and guesthouses, is 20 km from the stadium.
The suburban bus station is situated in the centre of the city, next to the old railway station which now houses a very comprehensive tourist information office. The yacht clubs, Maritime Museum and fine City Hall, with its substantial art gallery and museum, are all within half a kilometre to the south of the tourist office, while the perfectly preserved Old Fort – with its military museum – is the same distance to the north.
A kilometre to the west – Grey Street – is the Indian market, with its vast array of curries, spices, eastern artifacts, clothing and music. Make sure you ‘haggle’ for the best price!
A new international airport is scheduled to be built inland from Umhlanga Rocks shortly and should take the place of the present airport, which is to the south of the city.
The first European settlements in the area were mostly survivors of shipwrecks, and Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama applied the name â€“ Natal â€“ to the coastline when he landed on Christmas Day 1497. Only with the discovery of the entrance to the large lagoon, which now forms Durban harbour, in the early 1800s did merchants from the Cape begin settlement of the region. In 1835 the city was named after the Governor of the Cape, Sir Benjamin D’Urban.
The city has a busy ‘season’ in South Africa’s winter with international surfing competitions, fashion shows, wine shows and the country’s premier horse race (and social occasion) â€“ the Durban July.
The weather at the time of the World Cup should be pleasantly mild, equivalent to a British summer but with less rain.
If football fans intend to stay close to the ocean on, say, the “Golden Mile” between North and South Beach the following places of interest will be within walking distance: the uShaka Marine World with its shark tank, daily dolphin shows, waterslides, restaurants and more; the Snake Park which, besides being home to over 250 reptiles, offers entertaining demonstrations and feeding times; the Point Waterfront, situated at the mouth of the largest harbour in Africa, with canals, gondola rides, restaurants and bistros; and, later at night, you can try your luck at the Suncoast Casino. In addition there are the usual resort facilities: ice skating, mini golf and large swimming pools.
Within easy reach of Durban are:
The Valley of 1000 Hills, 30 miles west of the city, which give the visitor a real feel for the space and landscape of Africa. The viewing area at the village of Botha’s Hill offers a stunning sight of this huge majestic valley within which are dotted hundreds of hills and Zulu native kraals (villages).
At Botha’s Hill visit Phezulu Safari Park with displays of traditional Zulu dancing and lifestyle, wild animals and a crocodile farm. Stop en route at Hillcrest Heritage Market, with its tranquil park-like atmosphere, offers crafts, antiques, art and tea shops.
King Shaka’s Kraal, close to the pleasant forested town of Eshowe and 150km to the north-west of the city, on the site of his original village. Situated in typical Zulu countryside amongst the lush rolling Entombeni Hills, the kraal gives an insight into Zulu culture with traditional feasts, spear making and throwing, beer brewing and a visit to the ‘sangoma’ (witchdoctor) with all his or her medicines. En route visit one of the major battle sites of the Anglo-Zulu war at Gingindlovu.
Margate, Ramsgate, Southport and the lower South Coast â€“ the N2 national road follows the coast through sugar cane fields down as far as Port Edward where the Wild Coast Casino is situated. The route passes through many small and pleasant seaside resorts which have fine beaches, tranquil lagoons, championship golf courses and popular fishing spots.
Twenty-five kilometres inland from Margate is the magnificent spectacle of the Oribi Gorge and its accompanying nature reserve. Best view sites are within the grounds of the Oribi Gorge Hotel. A quaint narrow gauge steam railway passes close by.
Further afield, some 250km to the north but well worth an overnight stay, are the magnificent wildlife game parks of Umfolozi and Hluhluwe, home to 50 species of large mammals, including the ‘Big Five’ (lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and buffalo).
Game viewing is best at sunrise and at sunset and accommodation is available within the park’s perimeter â€“ BOOK EARLY.
Durban’s nightlife is not only confined to the beachfront, in fact some of the best clubs and classier restaurants can be found in the central suburbs of the Berea and along Florida Road in Windermere.
The former is about six kilometres from the stadium while Florida Road is within three kilometres. There are many excellent guest houses and boutique hotels in these areas. Durban is a compact city with a good bus system, most attractions and accommodation options could be confined to within a five-kilometre arc to the south and west of the stadium.
There are tourist information facilities at Tourist Junction (Tel: 031 304 4934) housed in the former 19th century train station, near the city’s main bus station, at the arrivals hall of Durban Airport (Tel: 031 408 1000) and at Ushaka Marine World (Tel: 031 337 8099).
Air – The new airport, to the north of the city, which will be completed in time for the tournament, is expected to accommodate international flights, particularly from Europe, Africa, the Indian sub-continent and Indian Ocean islands. Internal flights from Johannesburg International Airport, with a duration of just over an hour, are scheduled hourly; while flights from Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein arrive at regular intervals.
Rail – There are also regular train and luxury coach services linking Cape Town, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth to Durban.
Bus – The main N3 route from Johannesburg and Pretoria is excellent and is about a six hour drive. Why not break your journey half way and stay over at one of the resorts within the Drakensberg Mountains or take the northern N2 route through Ermelo, past the southern border of Swaziland and stop over at one the game parks: Umfolozi, Hluhluwe or the coastal park of St Lucia?
From Cape Town you may take the inland route via Bloemfontein and the semi-arid Karoo, with its huge African skies and landscapes, or travel along the magnificent ‘Garden Route’ with lakes, mountains, forests and seascapes to Port Elizabeth and on through the rolling green hills and African villages of the Eastern Cape, home to the Xhosas.
Car hire is a good option for visitors. Taxis are readily available at about 10 South African cents per kilometre and operate at all hours.
The international airport has a regular shuttle bus service to the city center and beaches. The main bus station is on Commercial Road with Mynah buses covering the city and Aqualine buses running out into Durban’s suburbs.
The Golden Arrows (‘Abafana Bes’thende’) are Durban’s top side and play in the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL). The team in green and yellow (nicknamed the ‘Black heel boys’) have so far not set the league alight with a series of mid to low table finishes.
Golden Arrows, who started life in 1943, play their home games at the 20,000 capacity King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi and bigger games at the rugby stadium at Kings Park. AmaZulu FC (‘Usuthu’) were created by the buyout of Dynamos (from Giyani in the north) by Zulu Royals and the team in green now called AmaZulu FC play their football at the 10,000 capacity Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban.
AmaZulu are currently in the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL). The Durban Stars play in South Africa’s second tier – the Mvela Golden League. The South African professional soccer season runs from September to May.
On average expect day time temperatures at around 18-20 degrees Centigrade and lowest night time temperatures of 10 degrees Centigrade. The weather in Durban should be mild, akin to a British summer but with less rain.
DATED: 14th September 2009