What happened in and around Durban...

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Kenya 2006


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Only a short flight needed from Jo’berg to Durban so we had booked somewhere to stay while at Jo’berg airport as well as a taxi to take us there.  Durban is marketed as a coastal port where many cultures and races mix together plus it has a tropical climate with the usual SA problems thrown in!  Our taxi driver was Afrikaans Durban born and breed and told us enough stories about the place in the short ride across town that would have scared the shit out of most people not to get out the car and ask to get on the next flight out of there.  But he still loved the place and couldn’t live anywhere else!  Although Apartheid ended 15 years ago there’s still plenty of racism in SA and this cab driver was walking proof for sure.


The city centre is slightly better than Jo’berg, only slightly so it’s much safer to base yourself in the suburban outskirts when finding a place to stay.  We got to our hostel all ok, all behind thick walls and razor wire.  Well the room they had for us was basically a shed in the garden or as they liked to call it the ‘Honeymoon Hut’.  They could only accommodate us for one night as well.  We needed at least two nights before we headed off to do our safari.  The place may have good reviews in the Rough Guide and Lonely planet, but it was basically a shit hole that was in a serious need of some attention…


Without a breath we dumped our bags and went back to the main road we came in on where we’d seen a few places to stay.  There were some extortionately priced B&B’s but we found a small hotel owned by some scousers who didn’t want to miss some business and have a vacant room, so he did us a deal for a couple of nights.  Very nice room as well.  So we said “no thanks” to the hostel and ran across the road with our bags!   


Next day we got a taxi and went to the ‘Gateway’ shopping centre which is supposed to be the largest mall in the southern hemisphere.  It sure was big but nothing amazing when you’re used to big centres in the UK, and really it was just another white person and tourists safe haven.  It did have a cool activity centre for the kids of all ages.  Great ramps, climbing wall etc… and a very cool wave machine where surfers could do their stuff in computer generated water waves.  Next day we headed off on our Safari so see that link for more info.


Back from the safari we stayed at Hippo Hide which was a very nice place, so after showering we then hit the sack for some well deserved sleep…  We ventured out the next day and hit this areas local mall and food shopped and planned some more Durban based things to do.  We also got chatting to a couple of German girls, Anna and Maria in our hostel about doing some trips together as they were keen to go out and about and see some of the sights.


Next day we all walked to Victoria market, located in the mainly Indian area of Durban.  We had strict instructions from our hostel of areas we shouldn’t walk in so with that in mind we stuck close together.  The girls even had their own mace spray they carried!  We went through a couple of areas where we were the only white people and there was lots of staring at us, but we made the market all ok.  Lots of arts and crafts on offer and run by the Indians so they were always up for a deal or two…


On our way back we stopped and had a traditional Durban Indian dish called a “Bunnie”, which is their version of fast food.  It’s basically a chunk of bread with a meat curry poured over the top and you eat it with your hands.  Very tasty and very spicy!



















Gateway's wave machine

And again!


















































Stromness trail view

Girls cooling their feet!



Stromness trail view

Us on the Stromness trail





The four of us had spoken about going up to the Drakensburg mountain range, which is North of Durban about 3 hours away where the mountain pass (which is a World Heritage site) up to the Lesotho border is supposed to be amazing to see and you can still see original bush paintings in caves and on the hillside…  So we decided to hire a car and head on up there together to share the costs.  We had a car turn up for first thing the next day and with just a couple of things packed for a night stop over we hit the road…  Would you believe it was an old MK1 Golf that was brand new with a modern dash.  Big sellers over here by all accounts!


It was great to get out of the city again into the countryside.  We stayed at Sani’s Pass lodge at the foot of the 4x4 track up to the top.  We arrived in plenty of time to do a small hike in the afternoon with the odd thunder storm thrown in but it was worth it as the views were beautiful… Our room was actually a rondavel which is one of the traditional African round houses with a bed in the middle that has a thatched roof so it stayed cool in the sun and warm at night.  Being a Saturday the hostel was very busy with lots of locals using the place as a base to hit the pass the next day.


We all managed to get on the organised trip the next day up Sani’s Pass to the top where you cross the Lesotho border.  So another stamp on the passport!  At various parts it was very steep with lots of hairpin bends sometimes being a 1in 3 and definitely a 4x4 needed.  Well the views were amazing as we got up to the top.  Great clear day as well. 


We visited a traditional farming Lesotho village where we met one of the local ladies and were shown her house and got to see a small part of the way of life for the Basotho farming people.  They travel many miles on foot as the summer starts to herd their sheep on the good pastures near the border, and it’s generally the teenage boys of the family who take on this responsibility, and have to spend months away from their families living the most basic life in stone huts tending to their herds.  We met a couple of them on the trip and our guide told us that most of them are very lonely and like to interact with the tourists.  They had even made musical instruments out of old oil cans and bits of wood and gave us a great rendition of a tune! 


We then went up to highest point of 3200M to eat our lunch.  The wind was blowing hard but you could see for over 100km away.  It was surprising how barren the landscape seems to be in Lesotho.  We passed the “Highest Pub in Africa” on our way up so on our way back down we stopped there for a drink which is perched at 2830M up, where they served a great warm gluwein which went down a treat.  Now the clouds had moved in to a point it was like thick fog so with not being able to see much we headed back down the track to the hostel. 


We grabbed a quick cup of coffee/tea before we hit the road just as it started raining.  What a drive back to Durban, we had seriously heavy rains, thick fog and it soon got dark as well, so that tied in with the usual animals, people and slow trucks on the roads it took about 4.5 hours to get back.  Long day!  The new hire car now looked like it had now been rallied!  The next day we had a day chilling out before getting on a flight to Cape Town.




A selection of photos from Sani's Pass


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