Durban's top 5 must-see attractions

Sunday, 2 September 2014 3:48 PM

If you're planning a tailor-made holiday in South Africa, Durban simply has to be on your list of top spots to take in. The city is the nation's busiest port and boasts beautiful beaches made all the more appealing by its subtropical climate.

As well as its vast sands, the city offers visitors the chance to explore beautiful landscapes, soak up some traditional culture and get close to nature. If you want to learn more about five of the city's unmissable attractions, keep reading.

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park

Heading off on safari is a must during a visit to South Africa, and if you choose to make Durban your destination you'll be well placed to explore the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve - Africa's oldest game reserve. You can see all of the Big Five here (lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino), along with other species, including giraffes, crocodiles, warthogs and monkeys.

Explore the park with a guide and you'll learn all about the flora and fauna, as well as the history of the site, which is home to the remains of several Stone Age settlements.

The Golden Mile

Perhaps the biggest draw for visitors to Durban is the Golden Mile, which comprises the city's beachfront, hotels, craft stalls and a casino complex. Head here to soak up the sun and take a dip in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, or, for something more exhilarating, rent a surfboard and join the many surfers who flock to the sand at the Bay of Plenty and Dairy Beach.

Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World is worth a visit if you're feeling lucky, and there are plenty of shops and restaurants too if you're in need of sustenance or a spot of retail therapy. You can also visit the uShaka Marine World complex, which boasts the largest aquarium of its kind in the southern hemisphere and also features a dolphinarum and water park.

Umgeni River Bird Park

Nature fans will be in their element at Umgeni River Bird Park, where you can wander through aviaries and past natural waterfalls as you look out for the species of bird that reside here. Among the breeds are more than 20 threatened species, which include wattled cranes.

During your visit, take in the Free Flight Bird Show, which will give you the opportunity to admire many of the park's residents at once. The show is held in an open air auditorium twice a day and introduces visitors to vultures, owls, toucans and kookaburras, among other birds.

Durban city hall

The neo-Baroque Edwardian city hall is arguably Durban's most remarkable building. Standing for over 100 years, the hall is beautiful to take in and calls to mind Belfast City Hall in Northern Ireland, which was the inspiration for the building.

Inside the structure you'll find the city's art gallery and Natural Science Museum. The former displays both South African and international works of art, while the latter showcases fossils and native animals and birds.

The Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park

Not far from the city of Durban is the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park, South Africa's first Natural World Heritage Site. Incorporating a lake, a couple of marine reserves, a forest reserve and a nature reserve, the park comprises 328,000 hectares of beautiful landscapes.

Hippos and crocodiles are among the creatures that live here, while African elephants and humpback whales are also native to the area. To make your visit even more memorable, consider exploring on horseback, which will allow you to get closer to the resident species.

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