Durban Botanic Gardens are regarded by many as some of South Africa's most beautiful city park lands. In 1850, the original curator, Mr. Mark Johnson McKen, laid the groundwork for what it is today. Specialties include the Earnest Thorpe Orchid House, a Herb Garden, a Sunken Garden and the Garden for the Blind. There is an information center and a tea garden. There are live concerts held in the park regularly, throughout the year, and audiences are welcome to bring along a picnic basket. Multiple concerts take place in the hall and the event spaces in the gardens. Workshops and exhibitions are also held.
The Umgeni River Bird Park is one of the finest bird parks in the world, with a spectacular collection of over 3,000 exotic and indigenous birds. A network of paths gives you a fine place to see lories, cockatoos and aras. It is set on the Umgeni River, which is at the edge of Durban city, close to the river mouth. There is a daily show which is highly recommended and an excellent way to see the birds in flight.
uShaka Sea World is a world of wonder and magic. This outstanding shipwreck-themed aquarium is linked to the dolphinarium where delightful dolphin, seal and penguin shows take place throughout the day. There's also a snorkeling lagoon and a touch pool. Scuba divers feed fish, giant turtles and stingrays by hand, and the sharks are awe-inspiring. Sea World is run by SAAMBR (The South African Association for Marine Biological Research), a non-government, non-profit association that also incorporates the Sea World Education Centre and the Oceanographic Research Institute.
This picturesque Hindu Temple is located close to the city center, and makes for an interesting visit regardless of faith. It is dedicated to Lord Ganesha, but Shiva is also worshipped here. Visitors are welcome, but must leave their shoes at the entrance before entering. Both men and women are welcome to enter the shrine. Visitors should try and time their visit in the mornings, as this is the most convenient time for worshippers.
Offering both daylong and overnight tours of a variety of locations throughout South Africa, 1st Zulu Safaris has something for everyone. From deep sea fishing, to bungee jumping, to safaris, to cultural education, they can arrange for most any itinerary. City tours are also available for those more interested in South Africa's vibrant city life, or combine the beauty of nature and the excitement of the city into one extended tour to see it all! The company also has two satellite offices at the La Montagne Hotel and on West Street on Durban's Golden Mile.
This animal farm is located about 30kms outside of Durban off the Old Main Road; turn left at Heidi's farm stall. It caters for children's parties (bring your own goodies), school outings (pre-school, pre-primary and senior school children) and family outings. This farmyard for children has ponies, pigs, ducks, rabbits, chickens and a host of other animals. The kids can touch and feed the animals if they choose. Pony rides and tractor rides are available. There is also a tea garden where mum and dad can relax while the children play and explore.
This old railway station building, built in 1898, formerly served as the main railway station house in Durban's city center. It is one of the few remaining stations in South Africa with a British, Victorian design. It underwent extensive changes under the apartheid system in order to ensure separate facilities and train access for members of different racial groups. Today the old station has become 'Tourist Junction,' the extensive and main tourist information bureau for Durban and KwaZuluNatal. Oddly, the roof of the station was built to support five meters/16 feet of snow because of a mix-up in its initial planning, when the London architects sent the roof plans for the Toronto Station to Durban in error.
The main tourism center for Durban, Tourist Junction, is conveniently located on the site of the old railway station, in the center of Durban. You will see the flags flying and the marble entrance - the offices are upstairs. This center has information and consultants, as you would expect, but also the offices of various associations, including the Natal Parks Board, tour operators, travel (road, rail and air) and accommodation agencies. So you can book your whole trip under one roof.
The park is located near the city centre in the Bulwer area and is readily accessible from King George V Road. This small park is distinguished as a natural heritage site because it contains many indigenous trees, including the Natal Elm, and preserves something of the original coastal environment. The bird life is good too, as you would expect in an indigenous environment. A 500m trail runs on either side of the valley. Beware of biting insects, especially in the summer.