True to the African ideal that everyone feel welcome, Durban is where diversity lives. Venture into neighbourhoods made familiar by South Africans who rush to the city around Christmas and New Year. But you can afford to wait. The warm Indian Ocean beckons you to Durban’s six kilometres of beachfront all year. Dive into the spicy local cuisine and enjoy the varied sidewalk culture that mixes Zulu, Indian and European influences in a way other cities just don’t. Welcome to KwaZulu-Natal province, called “KZN”.
South Africa has 11 official languages but in Durbs it’s mostly Zulu you hear clicking around you. If you want to learn some basic Zulu, or some of the country’s other languages, the University of South Africa has a free online course with the basics.
But English is the lingua franca, with a twist. You’ll do swimmingly with these vocabulary words: “Howzit” means “How are ya?”“Braai” is short for BBQ. On menus you’ll see “avo” (avocado) and rocket (lettuce). In Durbs “Bunnie chow” isn’t for rabbits; it’s hollowed-out bread filled with curry (order some or be sorry). If you need a cab sometime between soon and never, you need it “just now”. If you’re in a hurry, you want it “now now”. Stop at the “robot,” South African for traffic light. “Lekker” means awesome.
Getting in Touch
Country code is +27. Area code for land lines is 031. If you’re traveling from abroad, most smartphones will automatically figure out the correct sequence if you dial the number with the country code as listed here. Or, download our apps to get the same info, and just tap the number to dial.
Sexy new buses with floor to ceiling windows are a scenic way to circle the city centre in daytime. But you can follow the new beachside promenade from the tip of uShaka to Moses Mabhida Stadium. Take a break in a beaded Zulu rickshaw or for a stylin’ night out, best grab a brightly coloured car from Mozzie Cabs (086 066 9943 www.mozzie.co.za)
Getting in Trouble
Don’t wander the streets alone at night. Know the name of the suburb you’re going to. Read the map before you start driving. Use secure parking. Don’t flash your cash. Keep your bling for ‘in da club’. Tap water is totally safe.