I got the chance to visit the third largest city in South Africa, Durban, towards the end of 2016. It was my first touch down to the continent, and the experience I had was quite unexpected! It is a coastal city but hilly at the same time. A native told me that people often get the impression that Durban is a rich city (which is true to some aspect), but actually a third of the population living in poverty and urban slums. The city hosted some games of the 2010 World Cup in Moses Mabhida Stadium, a stadium that got its name from a South African politician once a leader of the country’s communist party (too bad my schedule made me unable to ride up the Stadium arch in its sky car!). The city is also the home of the busiest port in the country (yet the area and the sea is super clean) which makes it the busiest one in the southern part of the continent.
I was expecting to see some desert and hot weather, but well, since it is a developed coastal city, all I got to experience was a nice atmosphere around the old city and a spacious promenade along the beach. The beach, facing to the Indian Ocean, has a sticky and black-ish particle in its sand. But worry not, as it is well advertised along the beach, it is not oil, it is just its natural condition and it is totally safe. However, I was surprised when the concierge and the security guy at the hotel I was staying told me and colleagues that it was not safe to walk to the beach when the day was almost dark, although it was only around 5-10 minutes away.
My colleagues and I were also off to some city tour to the capture site of Nelson Mandela where you can learn at a glimpse about his life story, and enjoy the surrounding. The larger visitor center is currently being built but here, you can enjoy the scenery and of course take a look (and picture, of course!) on the remarkable artwork of Mandela’s face. It gives you an optical illusion. From the far, the black steel poles look like some random poles but try to move closer, where you can see they merge and brings you the hero’s face.
The tour then brought us to Howick waterfall, and to see some traditional dancing at the Zulu village. To completely round up my unexpected Durban journey, the tour was to the area uphill, where we were experiencing some fog and low temperature (well, not that low, but definitely lower than my expectation of hot deserty temperature) and where wearing sweater and anything but short would make me feel more comfortable during the trip (oh yes I wish I did)!