You can make all your travel arrangements at the Tourist Junction, where Durban Africa Tourism (tel. 031/304-4934; www.durbanexperience.co.za; Mon-Fri 8am-4:30pm, Sat 9am-2pm) is located, as is a branch of eZemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife (KZN Wildlife) and Tourism KwaZulu-Natal. The Tourist Junction is in the Old Station Building, 160 Pine St. Note: If you plan to travel north to the Zululand reserves and beyond, consider Camera Africa, a recommended agent that specializes in the Zululand area (tel. 031/266-4172; www.camera-africa.com).
By Plane -- When this guide was published, Durban International Airport was located a few minutes south of the city center, but by mid-2010, the new international airport, renamed King Shaka International Airport, and located on the north coast at La Mercy (about 35 min. north of the center), is due to open. This northern location is far more convenient for those wishing to visit the game reserves in Zululand, with transfers arranged direct from the airport, though it would be a pity to leave Durban entirely off the itinerary. For arrival and departure information, call tel. 031/451-6666. For 24-hour taxi service, call Super Shuttle (tel. 0860/333-4444 or 031/275-3836).
By Train -- The Trans-Natal from Johannesburg pulls into Durban Station (tel. 086/000-8888), on NMR Avenue, above the bus service terminal.
By Bus -- Country-wide operators Greyhound, Intercape, and Translux all arrive and depart at the station complex. The Baz Bus has an office at Tourist Junction and does drop-offs at hostels.
By Car -- The N2 from Cape Town runs parallel to the coast as far as Zululand; the N3 to Johannesburg meets the N2 at Durban.
When To Go
The best time to visit is from February to mid-May, when it's not too humid. Temperatures range from 61°F to 73°F (16°C-25°C) in winter (May-Aug) and 73°F to 91°F (23°C-33°C) in summer (Sept-Apr).
By Car -- The city center is relatively small, but to explore farther afield, your best bet is to rent a car. A number of companies have desks at the airport, including Avis and Budget -- the latter usually offers a slightly better rate. For a cheaper deal, call Windermere Car Hire (tel. 031/312-0339 or 082/454-1625) or Comfort Car Rentals (tel. 031/368-6563).
By Bus -- The city center, beachfront, and Berea are serviced by Mynah buses (tel. 031/309-5942); trips cost from R3.20. You can catch the Umhlanga Express (tel. 082/268-0651) to Umhlanga Rocks.
By Taxi -- Mozzies Taxicabs (tel. 086/066-9943) and Eagle Taxis (tel. 031/337-8333) are both reputable cab companies. Super Shuttle (tel. 0860/333-4444 or 082/903-0971) offers a personalized transfer service to any destination in KwaZulu-Natal.
On Foot -- Historical Walkabout and Oriental Walkabout walking tours (both R100) can be arranged through Durban Africa (tel. 031/304-4934). Book the day before.
By Bus -- The most authentic city tour is offered by Tekweni Ecotour (tel 031/3320575; 082/3039112; www.tekweniecotours.co.za). The full-day tour takes in the multicultural sights of the city and the harbor before moving on to the township of Cato Manor, where a local guide takes you on a short walking tour that ends at a shebeen (informal bar), where you enjoy a meal with members of the community; the cost is R380, including transport and drinks, but excluding dinner. Best of all, a percentage of the money is reinvested in the community.
By Boat -- Board the luxury charter yacht African Queen (tel. 083/262-6099) for a cruise, and set sail for the north coast. Trips last 2 1/2 hours and cost R200 per person. Less romantic is the engine-powered Sarie Marais Pleasure Cruisers (tel. 031/305-4022), a ferryboat that does 30-minute harbor cruises and 90-minute "deep-sea" cruises (R50 and R60, respectively, every 30 minutes). Adventure Ocean Safaris (tel. 082/960-7682) is the only licensed boat-based whale-watcher in the Durban area. For more boating options, contact the Durban Charter Boat Association (tel. 031/301-1115).
By Air -- Nac Helicopters (tel. 031/571-8320) offers a variety of trips, from a 30-minute flight around greater Durban and a 1-hour trip along the coast and the Valley of a Thousand Hills, to golf trips, Drakensberg tours, and game tours.
The city center encompasses the buildings and memorials surrounding Francis Farewell Square, as well as the Indian District -- the latter is now very seedy and best explored with a guide -- and Golden Mile, the beachfront that forms the eastern arm of the city. Running south from Blue Lagoon Beach, it terminates in Durban Point, where uShaka Marine World leads the regeneration of this previously underutilized harbor area. Stretching eastward from here is the Victoria Embankment (or Esplanade); running at more or less 90 degrees to the Golden Mile along the harbor's edge, it creates the city's southern border. This is where you will find the BAT Centre (overlooking the Small Craft Harbour) and, a little farther along, Wilson's Wharf. On the western outskirts of the city lies the Ridge, as Durbanites refer to the wealthy colonial-era suburbs, like Berea, with elevated views of the city and harbor. Most of the city's best guesthouses and most centralized restaurant and nightlife areas are here, so it's a good place to base yourself. If you'd prefer to be on the ocean, Umhlanga or even Umdloti ("Oom-shlow-tea") -- once separate seaside villages but now both northern suburbs of the city -- are the areas to be.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.