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What You Need To Know about Durban

Durban, a coastal city in eastern South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, is known for its African, Indian and colonial influences. The Golden Mile beachfront is a popular destination for surfers, joggers, sunbathers and water-sports enthusiasts. Refurbished for soccer’s 2010 World Cup, the seafront promenade starts at uShaka Marine World, a huge theme park with an aquarium, and ends by the futuristic Moses Mabhida stadium.

Area: 2,292 km²
Province: Kwa-Zulu Natal
Population: : 669,242 (1996)

Currency

sa moola

  • Currency of Durban. The currency used in South Africa is the rand (R), with 100 cents making up one rand. Notes are available in R10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 while coins come in denominations of 1, 2, and 5 rand as well as 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents. The best exchange rates are available from banks.
  • All major Mastercards, VISA, and American Express cards are accepted.

Weather

KwaZulu-Natal’s climate is widely described as year-round and tourist-friendly. This South African holiday destination is enveloped by the warm Indian Ocean on the east and to the west are the grand Drakensberg Mountains. KwaZulu-Natal has a warm, sub-tropical climate with very hot and humid summers during the months of November, December and January. Winters are reasonably warm during June and July. Winter sunshine lasts for almost seven hours a day.

Language

Zulu (primarily spoken by South African Blacks) is widely spoken in KwaZulu-Natal, but is also spoken by the Indian, White and Coloured population. English is the administrative language and is spoken and understood by the majority people as well. Xhosa and Afrikaans are also commonly spoken languages in Durban.

Health

  • Medical facilities in cities and larger towns are world-class, offering specialist services by highly skilled professionals. Doctors are well trained and must be registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa.
  • You will find that in rural areas the clinics and hospitals deal with primary health needs, and may not offer the range of medical care that the large metropolitan hospitals do. Trained medical caregivers are deployed round the country, so help is never far away.
  • Pharmacies are well stocked, and equivalents to most international medicines are available. Pharmacists may not dispense Schedule 3 drugs and up without a prescription, so visitors on chronic medication should carry their own prescription.
  • It is a good idea to take out comprehensive medical insurance before travelling to South Africa as private medical care can be expensive.

Security

  • The city and nearby suburbs are over run with ‘Whoonga’ smoking kids and youths, ‘a mixture of cheap heroin and rat poison amongst other things.
  • They will feel nothing to rob and kill you, avoid them and don’t give to any beggars no matter how ‘deformed’ they make themselves appear, they don’t want food either, they just toss it away, they want money for ‘Whoonga’.

DON’T

  • Do not give money to beggars. You may feel guilt ridden that people have so little when you have so much, but giving money exacerbates the problem rather than solving it and simply encourages beggars to be more demanding and aggressive. Many of the beggars you’ll see are not genuine: for instance, there is rock solid evidence of rings that rent out drugged-up babies by the day to women who then pose as ‘destitute mothers’ at robots/traffic lights.
  • Don’t leave your windows completely open when the car is stationary and don’t leave valuables in full view as this simply makes you a target for a ‘smash and grab’.
  • Don’t have sex with locals, regardless of their colour, gender or sexual persuasion. There’s no sugar-coating the fact that South Africa has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world (and Kwa Zulu Natal has the highest infection rate in the country).

DO

  • Travel with your mobile/cell phone so that you can raise the alarm or call for help should you need it. But of course this strategy only works if you know who to call for help in the first place!
  • Respect people’s dignity and ask people’s permission before photographing them.

Rail

  • Durban featured the first operating steam railway in South Africa when the National Railway Company started operating a line between the Point and the city of Durban in 1860.
  • Durban is well-served by railways due to its role as the largest trans-shipment point for goods from the interior of South Africa. Shosholoza Meyl, the passenger rail service of Spoornet, operates two long-distance passenger rail services from Durban: a daily service to and from Johannesburg via Pietermaritzbutg and Newcastle, and a weekly service to and from Cape town via Kimberley and Bloemfontein. These trains terminate at Durban Railway station.
  • Metro-rail operates a commuter rail service in Durban and the surrounding area. The Metro-rail network runs from Durban Station outwards as far as Stanger on the north coast, Kelso on the south coast, and Cato ridge.

Culture

  • The Black population has several ethnic groups that form the distinct African culture that envelops the province. They speak many different languages and their impressive dance and musical abilities contribute to the strong cultural stance that KZN holds.
  • KwaZulu-Natal also has a high Indian population in comparison to any other South African Province. Durban in particular, is occupied by a vast majority of Indian people. Their notorious spicy cooking and hot foods contribute a touch of colour to the city. All in all, the culture of KwaZulu-Natal is mixed with character, dance, music, history and nations with an interesting story to tell.