“Try everything, it’s all good” said the affable driver as we sped away from airport. Then, with a wink of the eye he revealed that the eyes are the best bit and marked a spot on the map where we should ‘head to’ get the best Boiled Cows Head! It’s a traditional Zulu delicacy.
I feel lucky to have quite a collection of “Insiders Tips for Durban” gathered mostly from friends of friends. Knowing that the city has an average of 300 sunny days a year and expecting no jet lag (from the UK), our long weekend is going to be busy.
Getting Around the City
Preferring local interaction and a more fluid itinerary, the local bus company PeopleMover was ideal for a spot of sightseeing. The city circle line is one of three routes which take in all the spots we wanted to see including the crazy Warwick markets area. The all day hop-on-hop-off ticket cost less than $1/£1 at ZAR 16 and as walking is not safe in some downtown city areas it was a really great way to get around.
Self Guided Food Tour of Durban
We never waited longer than 2 minutes for a (very cheap) evening Uber ride to the restaurants.
Many of the recommendations have been where to find the best steaks, biltong, BBQs and butchers, and of course, Durban’s signature dish of Bunny Chow, or just ‘Bunny’- A loaf of bread, halved and hollowed and filled with curry.
The gastro guide to Durban started off looking like a meat feast. However with the largest Indian population outside of India, there were so many wonderful vegetarian Indian dishes available. (See links at the bottom of this post). The fresh fruit juices everywhere are amazing.
Shopping and Markets in Durban
As South Africa’s 3rd largest city, Durban is probably the best place to browse the markets for variety, quality and value. Look out for jewellery, art and handmade crafted items. There are hundreds Zulu and Indian vendors with some interesting spices and spice mixes (MotherInLaw Exterminator being one popular blend) Our favourite markets were those recommended to us – in the Warwick Triangle area, 9 markets, all crazy chaotic and probably best done with one of the market tour guides. For quality shopping the Wonder Market in Umhlanga on the last Sunday of the month is a nice place to wander.
Staying in Durban
Morningside is a safe residential neighbourhood with some great restaurants. An unexpected bonus of our Morningside guesthouse is that it’s on a hillside so we had fantastic views of the Diwali fireworks over the iconic city stadium.
Driving out of Durban
A man with a shopping trolley walking towards in our lane of the motorway as we headed out of Durban was a bit of a surprise. Apart from the obvious safety tips, the most useful tip here was to watch out for people and animals on the road. We managed to miss hitting the people, cows, goats, monkeys etc – but as I write this, we have only driven for an hour!
- EAT – The Butcher Boys at Morningside and other locations. http://butcherboysgrill.co.za
- EAT – Mali’s Indian restaurant for quality food inc good choice of vegetarian dishes. Try the Dosas. http://www.malis.co.za/?fbclid=IwAR0cKZAHXp6No1tA3CNH7W0QE_YQCWipjSl_LSgSvyOjqgLSfvpHkzBjSaI
- BUS – Public People Mover routes here http://www.durban.gov.za/City_Services/ethekwini_transport_authority/Documents/People_mover_route.pdf
- MARKETS – The weird and wonderful Warwick markets. Including the Bovine Head Market. Book a guide to make the most of this vast area. https://www.marketsofwarwick.co.za