Imagine a city with a sub-tropical climate right on the beach. Where palm trees offer all year-round shade along a golden mile promenade. A golden mile which is now just under four miles in length. A place to stroll, hire a bike, trike, go cart, or segway. Take a Zulu rickshaw or ride a half pipe at the skate park. Take a cable car or a swim in a public pool. Sunbath on the beach, swim in the warm Indian Ocean or catch a wave, avoid a wipeout and cruise a crest back to the beach. This is no imaginary city, this is Durban, the warmest place to be.

I have spent some time over the years in Durban. It is where I met my wife twenty-nine years ago. It is a city I still love to visit, and we have just spent a few days there. This time there were specific reasons for visiting.

We based ourselves again at the Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani perfectly situated on the beachfront and overlooking the ocean. The rooms are spacious and comfortable with en-suit bathroom. The hotel offers a spa & wellness centre. There is a choice of restaurants with cocktail bars. Everything you need and expect from a modern hotel is here including two swimming pools, one located on the hotel roof.

My first trip to Durban back in 1994 was based around cricket and this was one of the reasons for this visit. The SA20 had been launched and here in town were based The Durban Super Giants. Admittedly I am not a huge fan of franchise or twenty-twenty cricket. But never say never and you cannot judge without being there. Here in England, in my opinion, we do not have the climate for floodlit cricket. Cool and even cold nights are not suited to watching cricket, a summer sport. Durban is the other end of the scale. Steamy, warm, humid and even hot long after sunset. Perfect for spectators. But how many spectators would turn up? To my amazement, where cricket is not a top sport, the crowds came flooding in. Hats off, bucket hats, to the organisers as the ground was close to capacity for both games I attended. Nearly twenty five thousand fans including  many families with children. They were greeted by live music, local DJ’s, dancers and fireworks. We were on a grass bank where the locals made us totally welcome. They shared a beer or two and a homemade curried tin fish sandwich. I can only say well done to all those involved for putting together a hugely successful tournament packed with many international stars from England. If you are cricket fan and want some winter warmth, think Durban and the Super Giants. One last thing and a first for me. We sat enjoying a post-match cold beer on the deck at our hotels panorama bar and looking down there were children playing cricket. Inspired by the game there they were under the palm trees with street lights for floodlights inspired to bat and bowl by the beach.

Are you familiar with a bunnychow? If not, in layman’s terms, it is a curry served in a quarter or half hollowed out loaf of bread. Did you know there is even a World Bunnychow Day? I will not go here into the history of this unique dish other than to say it was created in Durban where it has its roots firmly entwined in the city’s cultural and ethnic history. I had arranged to meet and eat with Sagaran Govender, otherwise known as the Bunnyblogger. I met Sagaran through social media where he has over twenty thousand followers sharing all things bunnycow and curried. I am a curry lover and a huge fan of the bunnychow. We arranged to meet at The Curry O’s on Point Waterfront just back from the beachfront and not too far from uShaka Marine World and the new cruise terminal. What a pleasure to meet Sagaran, in English terms, a top bloke. We talked and chatted all things but top of the agenda was the bunnychow, its origins, its flavours, its content and importantly its gravy. Here we also met and chatted with Ranjini Naidoo the very proud owner of Curry O’s. What a lady, what a story of progress, determination and hard work. This lady is inspirational and someone I would like to call Auntie, out of respect, and a Durban term of endearment. Her bunnychow did not disappoint, fresh bread, succulent mutton, soft potatoes, plenty of gravy, great flavours with some background heat.  

One last thing to mention from our time in the warmest place to be. I cannot surf, tried it once hopeless, but Durban and the surrounding beaches is a top surfing destination. We wanted a couple of shirts to take home and opted to visit Surf HQ, a surfing store with everything. I had a little déjà vu on entering. After asking a couple of questions I had not been in before but had seen the store and its staff on CNN News featured on African Voices Changemakers. Chatting to store owner Jean-Marc Tostee AKA JM, a surfer of note, he introduced us to Ntando Msibi AKA Biggy. The Biggy story is another inspirational one. From living on the streets of Durban through the charity Surfers Not Street Children, to afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace. As Biggy said through a big smile “tea with gogo at her house”. Gogo is Zulu for grandmother. Maybe I am ready to hit the waves again or at least get a lesson?


About Author

People say that Africa has an effect on your soul and Mark Henson the ‘author’ of this site is no exception. He first travelled to South Africa and the province of KwaZulu-Natal in 1993 and has been coming and going every year since. Twice now most years!

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