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Blick auf die "Goldene Meile" von Durban, Bild: Alexandre G. ROSA / shutterstock

Durban – multicultural and a “Golden Mile”

Durban – this is the South Africa of a different kind. Anyone who visits the metropolis on the Indian Ocean and strolls through the alleys and streets there is surprised by the high proportion of people with Indian roots. If the official figures are correct, then around 500,000 inhabitants of Indian origin live in this lively port city with its “Golden Mile”, which is one of the most beautiful city beaches in southern Africa. In this city, Indian cuisine meets African elements, and it’s not just gastronomy that is triumphing here. Hardly any other city in South Africa is so relaxed and multicultural.

Shark nets secure the beaches on the “Golden Mile”

On this great beach, which is secured by shark nets against uninvited guests, the nation goes swimming, and for thirty years everyone who wants refreshment has jumped into the waters here. The infinitely long period in which you had to splash and swim separately according to skin color is long gone. All those who live in Durban see their beaches as pleasant places to meet, and no one is surprised when Muslim women take a bath there fully veiled or when a priest sings the “Hallelujah” on the beach boulevard.

Muthi Market – Cow Heads and Wedding Dresses

There are many reasons to stay in Durban. One of them is the Muthi Market, a confusing maze of narrow streets and full of curiosities. Cow heads are cooked here and wedding dresses are sold. And everywhere you can see herbs and tubers as well as mysterious mixtures in disused vodka bottles. This is the refuge of the medicine men who were persecuted by the authorities as sorcerers during apartheid. Here and there in Durban’s city the sweet smell wafts over from the numerous sugar refineries. But what sets this city apart from the other African metropolises is above all the mixture of peoples.

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A romantic “point” at Durban Harbour

One of the romantic places in the port city is “The Point”. This is a 55-hectare area at the entrance to the busy port. Here, the peninsula with its warehouses from Victorian times loses itself in a kind of party mile. African and Indian sounds boom out of several historic buildings, and if you sip your cool glass of white wine at one of the numerous bars there, you can look over to the container giants in the harbour and the hustle and bustle of water sports enthusiasts on Addington Beach. And behind the “Golden Mile”, the so-called hawkers offer fried corn on the cob, pineapple pieces with Marsala flavor or strawberries with cream. After dark, the sympathizers of spicy Indian cuisine squat under the trees in the park and enjoy the spicy biryani rice or fiery curries at the gates of the numerous restaurants.

The view from the arch of the stadium

Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban
The Moses Mabhida Stadium is the second largest stadium in South Africa, Image: michaeljung / shutterstock

Since the 2010 Football World Cup, Durban has been enriched by one attraction: the backdrop of the Moses Mabhida Stadium. It is worth stopping by during a stay in this city and being chauffeured by SkyCar to the mighty arch. From lofty heights, the view of the city and the picturesque surrounding area is unique. And those who are ready to tickle their nerves can approach the world’s highest bungee swing in the arena. The dazzlingly colourful underwater world is presented in the uShaka Marine World on the periphery of the “Golden Mile”. This is a huge water amusement park where dolphins, seals and penguins can be observed in the aquariums.

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The sun shines 318 days a year

Durban is something like the secret capital of the KwaZulu-Natal region and, given the many casinos, also the “Miami of the South”. In this metropolis, the coexistence of Christian churches, Islamic mosques and Indian temples is an indication of a largely peaceful cultural diversity. Meteorologists have found that the sun shines over Durban on 318 days of the year. In the South African summer, the water temperatures of the Indian Ocean reach values around 28 degrees. In a broad front, the waves rush onto the five-kilometre-long beach. The abundance of life in the sea off Durban is almost immeasurable. The fascination of the underwater world can be experienced there in the company of experienced divers. After all, this is the most interesting shark territory in the world.

Durban – A watch in honour of Vasco da Gama

If you prefer to have solid ground under your feet, you should head to the shady Botanic Garden in Durban, a green oasis in the middle of the city. Every now and then there is an acoustic ear pleasure through the concerts of the KwaZulu Philharmonic Orchestra. In the Zulu language, this city is called “Thekwini”, which translates as “place where earth and water meet”. The legendary Portuguese Vasco da Gama was the first European to land here. In his honour, a colourful construct with a clock was erected. This building is one of many sights in this interesting city.