After a long night on a cockroach-infested bus (I seriously thought Intercape was better than that…sigh), we arrived in Durban at about 4:30am. Lorato and I frittered away some time by waiting at the bus station, and finally decided to head to the backpackers at about 6:30am. We knew we couldn’t check-in, but we were able to stow our bags and head off to find some food. We stayed at the Happy Hippo Backpackers, which I would highly recommend to anyone. We were able to catch the “touristy” bus about 1 block from the bp, which made our lives much easier. Plus, it was clean.
We headed over to the Victoria Street Market, which is this HUGE “Indian” market geared partially to tourists and partially to locals. It is THE place to find cheap souvenirs and about anything else you could need. I bought 4 paintings, some earrings, and a few other gifts and spent less than 20 US dollars. We spent a few hours there, then wandered around the streets, where there were lots of vendors. We bought 18 bananas for about $1.25 USD-Durban is cheap! After grabbing some lunch, we went back to the backpackers and crashed for a few hours, as we didn’t sleep much on the bus. A few hours later, we stumbled out of bed and decided to head to the uShaka Marine World (think Sea World) complex to shop more and get some dinner. There’s a whole boardwalk area there, and uShaka was just around the corner from the Happy Hippo. We ended up grabbing some Chinese food and meandering around, then headed back to the Happy Hippo for an early night, as we were still tired from the bus.
We spent the next two days wandering through markets and malls, and along the beach, which has a really nice boardwalk. We visited the Sunken Garden, which was nothing to write home about, and inevitably wandered into areas we (white people) we NOT supposed to be. Durban is not the most safe place in SA, but we didn’t have any troubles, even after taking a wrong turn that lead us into a super sketchy area. PC safety training paid off, and we avoided any mishaps. We had a good time chatting with some American study abroad students who were living at the Happy Hippo, and enjoyed exchanging experiences in SA.
Durban was a neat place to visit, but overall not fantastic nor would I necessarily recommend it. It has a nice beachfront and cool Indian market, but that’s about all. Plus it is kind of old, dirty, and not so safe. Regardless, it was a neat experience and a very different atmosphere than I have yet seen in SA. But just the few days Lorato and I spent there was certainly enough. 🙂