Durban's Northern Surroundings & the Dolphin Coast
There are numerous bathing resorts on the coast north of Durban, sometimes called the Dolphin Coast, but in general this stretch is less developed for tourism than the Sunshine and Hibiscus Coasts to the south of the city.For a round trip through this region, take M 3 (known as Shaka's Way after the great Zulu king), running close to the coast, as far as Stanger, returning to Durban on R 102, farther inland.
Umhlanga Rocks is a popular resort, where shark nets protect the beaches.
Near two other quiet resorts, Sheffield Beach and Blythdale Beach is Stanger (pop. 26,000), founded in 1873 on the site of Shaka's last royal kraal, Kwadukuza ("Place of the Missing One"). A monument in a small garden marks the spot where the great Zulu ruler was murdered in 1828. Annually on September 22nd, a day of great significance to the Zulus, they meet here to honor Shaka.Stanger is now a busy commercial and administrative center, mainly inhabited by Indians, for one of South Africa's most important sugar-producing areas.
Tongaat (pop. 50,000) is an important center of the sugar industry.Tongaat was founded in 1849 by British immigrants. The town, named after the Tongaat River, was originally called Victoria. It preserves a few buildings from its early days. Also of interest is the Shree Marriamen, a tiny Hindu temple on the main street. The golf course, fringed by palms and surrounded by green fields of sugarcane, attracts golfers from far and wide.
Salt Rock is a quiet little resort with a hotel and a camping site. On the coast are piers and towers built for the benefit of anglers. Salt Rock Country Club has a wide range of sports facilities, including a boccia pitch, tennis courts, billiard tables and swimming pools.
Phoenix Park Settlement
South of Verulam a road branches off R 102 and runs west to the Phoenix Park Settlement, where Mahatma Gandhi established a farm during his stay in Natal. His house now contains a small museum on his life and work.
Shaka's Rock has hotels and a sheltered beach, and there is a beautiful hiking trail running parallel to the coast. This is said to have been a favorite spot of the Zulu king Shaka.
The bathing resort of Umdloti, at the mouth of the Mdloti River, has one of the finest beaches in the area. The river takes its name from a wild tobacco plant which grows along its banks.
15km/9mi south of Tongaat is Verulam (pop. 30,000). Founded in 1850 by Methodists, it is the oldest town in the province, with a majority of Indians in the population.
A popular bathing resort is Ballitoville (or Ballito for short), 45km/28mi north of Durban. It has a beautiful beach protected by shark nets.
Durban's Southern Surroundings
Nature reserves and coastal drives through pleasant resort areas are enjoyed south of Durban.
Durban's Western Surroundings
The Valley of a Thousand Hills and a few nature reserves lay west of Durban.
Valley of a Thousand Hills
The Valley of a Thousand Hills, a beautiful region of gently rounded hills created since the Mesozoic era by the gradual recession of the Great Escarpment, extends along the Umgeni River between its outflow into the Indian Ocean, to the north of Durban, and the Nagle Dam to the east of Pietermaritzburg, which supplies Durban with water.The old road between Durban and Pietermaritzburg runs along the southern edge of the Valley of a Thousand Hills, an area with magnificent views. After passing Hillcrest and Botha's Hill it comes to Phe-Zulu, a typical Zulu village where visitors can see something of the traditional Zulu way of life including performances of tribal dances and a visit to a witch doctor. There are similar opportunities for visitors in nearby Assagay Park, which also has crocodiles, snakes and lizards as tourist attractions.Towards Pietermaritzburg is the Nagle Dam. The lake lies at the foot of the Natal Table Mountain (960m/3150ft), from the summit of which there are magnificent views.
PheZulu Safari Park
PheZulu Safari Park, containing a typical Zulu village, offers tribal dance performances. The park contains some of the oldest and largest Nile crocodiles in captivity as well as an exhibition of snakes. Off-road trips into the Valley of a Thousand Hills are available.
Nagle Dam, laying at the base of Natal Table Mountain, is a venue for the African Canoeing Championships.
The Marianhill monastery, in the slum quarter of Pinetown, was founded in 1882 by a Trappist abbot, Franz Pfanner, and was taken over in 1909 by the Marianhill missionary order. It has developed into an important training center for Black South Africans.
Krantzkloof Nature Reserve
The Krantzkloof Nature Reserve, area 6sq.km/2.25sq.mi, offers numerous scenic walks and viewpoints. It is very popular with bird-watchers.Near the reserve's entrance, the Umgeni River plunges into a deep wooded gorge.
Palmiet Nature Reserve
This municipal nature reserve, area 50ha/125ac, lies near Westville, on the western outskirts of the expanding Durban conurbation. There are a number of short hiking trails which allow visitors to see the park's flora (mainly of indigenous plants) and its large numbers of birds.
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