Even though we no longer wish to live in South Africa, it is still a great place to visit, but one needs to be aware of certain precautions to take if you don't want your vacation spoilt by any criminal incidents;
was the premier holiday resort, although it is not as busy as it used to be, it is well worth a visit, unfortunately it is overlooked
by many tourists based on biased negative reports. On a recent trip to Durban we were pleasantly surprised to see how clean the beachfront
area was. Obviously much money has been spent upgrading the area between South Beach and the Snake Park at the northern extreme of
North Beach. This stretch of beach is very popular with cyclists, roller-bladers and joggers. The beaches here are good, and the sea
warm for at least 9 months of the year, the surf is good especially at 2 beaches. Body-surfing and surfing are 2 of the most popular
sports in Durban. There are many beach patrol officers on duty, so it appeared to us the crime on the beachfront during the daytime
is relatively under control.
Sailing is also a very popular sport in Durban, a visit to the Point Yacht club for lunch is well worth it, it is now open to the general public. The club is situated on the Victoria Embankment and the view over the marina and harbour area is really great.
At the entrance to the harbour, there are a number of restaurants with stunning views over the sea, one of the best views is from the Blue Bottles restaurant.
At night the view of the beachfront is stunning and if you are ever offered a sail along the beachfront at night, jump at the offer if the weather is good, it will be an unforgettable experience.
Besides water sports, Durban has plenty to offer. The Victoria Street Market, (Indian Market) is well worth a visit. Here you will get a taste of India as well as being able to experience the many cultures, peoples and the sights and sounds of this multi-cultured city. Walk down some of the small arcades running of Broad street near the Indian Market and experience a true eastern shopping & bargaining experience - we have always found this to be a very safe area, but take the normal precautions, don't wear flashy jewellery or show expensive cameras. The selection of eastern foods & delicacies on display at the market is fantastic and different. The butchery area is extremely unique, see "smileys", probably for the first & last time ( a sheep's head, with grinning teeth). We have bought fresh at this market and have yet to be disappointed in the freshness & quality. Spices and their aroma abound - and you must buy and try the Samoosas, they are the best in Durban. There is also a curio market, with all the normal African curios, some real and some fake, so take care - and don't forget to bargain - if you pay the price you are first asked to pay, you are crazy!
Durban is in the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal, so there is a lot of history and places of interest where one can experience Zulu traditions first hand. In the Valley of a 1000 Hills area, there is a traditional African village called Phephezulu, well worth visiting. Check out http://www.kwazulu-natal.co.za for more information on Durban and Natal.
Just north of Durban is the up-market seaside resort of Umhlanga Rocks (pronounced Umshlanga), this is the area of all the recent development in and around Durban, with an enormous shopping complex and indoor surfing pool. There are many Bed & Breakfast establishments in this area. Very good friends of ours own a really nice 7-bedroomed B&B on Umhlanga Rocks drive called Hilltop Mansion, their email address is email@example.com - phone +27 31 563 0276.
Johannesburg is the financial capital of South Africa, there is not much for tourists to see, unless shopping and visiting / staying at really nice hotels is on the agenda. The Monte Casino complex at Fourways is impressive, with it's many good restaurants set in a Tuscany village scene.
A visit to Sandton Centre and Sandton Square is certainly a worthwhile shopping experience.
Gold Reef City has an interesting museum with an authentic once operative gold mine. Here, one can go down in a real mine lift to very deep levels. On most days they also pour molten gold into ingots - worth seeing. There is also a good roller-coaster ride, but only for the adrenalin junkies!
For details on Johannesburg log onto to ; http://www.africa-za.com/gaut/
Capetown - to many tourists, Capetown is the place to be and to be seen, especially in the summer months between November and March. The V&A Waterfront, (Victoria & Albert) is one of the best waterfront areas in the world, many of the restaurants are good, but service may be a touch slow during the peak season - but the V&A is a must visit. Log onto the following site for more details; http://www.gardenroute.org
I have been told there is a very good tour guide
in Capetown, his name is Dan Dunn and his contact details are;
Telephone no + 27 21 9091500 mobile + 27 82 4926307 firstname.lastname@example.org
The beaches are great and very scenic but the water temperature is very chilly, especially on the Atlantic Ocean side.
From a base in or near Capetown, one can reach most of the surrounding areas easily and quickly, the roads are excellent. A visit to Gordon's Bay is worth the effort, and the wine farms are close enough for a days excursion. Try visiting the smaller family owned wine farms, they are far less commercial and much more intimate and authentic (our favourite is the Boland estate). One of the prettiest towns in the region and in fact in the world is Stellenbosch, where there are a number of world class excellent restaurants. For details on the wine region, check out; http://www.go2africa.com/
Greyton is a small picturesque village nestled in the country on the main road between Capetown and Caledon This is the closest we have seen to a scenic / theme town in South Africa, similar to the many theme towns we stayed at in the USA. Most houses are painted in standard Greyton green and white, and all of them are in really good condition even though they are mostly quite old. It is an arts and crafts town so many artists & potters have moved here and set up studios. There are a number of very good B&B's and small country hotels. A few years ago, Yvonne and I almost bought a really nice B&B in Greyton called the Guinea Fowl, a beautiful Victorian homestead.The Garden Route - if time permits is a must, we have done it twice and it was really great. For pictures and more details log onto; http://www.gardenroute.co.za/