4 HOURS IN… DURBAN

If you find yourself in Durban with a few hours to spare, consider one of these outings and get to know this coastal city a little better.

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uShaka Marine World

The sea-side aquarium and water park opened to the public in 2004, and now houses over 350 species of sea creatures, reptiles and amphibians, and a recreated 1920s shipwreck.Take a leisurely walk around the retail village, take in a dolphin or seal show, or get wet at the Wet ‘n Wild water park, which has slides and water rides for all ages and abilities. There are a number of animal encounters available, including feeding Spotted Eagle rays.

The park is open seven days a week, from 10h00 to 17h00. Ticket prices start at R122 ($7.7) per person, with some activities, most notably the animal encounters, costing extra.

ushakamarineworld.co.za

Moses Mabhida Stadium

A host stadium for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, this Durban landmark has more to offer than soccer games for 62,000 spectators. Take a two-minute SkyCar ride up to the top of the stadium for a 360-degree view of Durban. Take the fast way down on the Big Rush Big Swing, an 80-metre free fall into the stadium bowl. A guided tour will allow you to explore the changerooms and walk through the tunnels that great soccer players have graced.

The stadium is open every day from 09h00 to 17h00. The tour costs R50 ($3.1), the SkyCar costs R60 ($3.78) and the Big Rush swing costs R695 ($43.7).

mmstadium.com

Umgeni River Bird Park

Opened in 1984, the Umgeni River Bird Park is home to almost 200 avian species. A big attraction of the park is the free-flight bird show, featuring a range of birds from macaws to hornbills, owls, cuckoos and kookaburras in unrestrained flight, demonstrating what they would do in the wild. The Cockatoo Cafe is located inside the park and serves a range of refreshments and light meals.

You can visit the park from 09h00 to 17h00 every day for a cost of R50 ($3.1). Free-flight shows take place at 11h00 and 14h00 from Tuesday to Sunday at no extra cost.

urbp.co.za

KwaMuhle Museum

Once the most hated building in the city as the former ‘Department of Native Affairs’, the site of KwaMuhle is now dedicated to sharing the city’s history and fight against Apartheid. Exhibitions cover a range of topics from black migration and Apartheid to ongoing ‘green street’ efforts in the Cato Manor Township. Photographs, government documents, videos, and personal testimonials illustrate how the ‘Durban System’ provided the framework for the national Apartheid policy.

The museum is open from Monday to Saturday, 08h30 to 16h00. Entrance is free.

KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board Maritime Centre

The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board Maritime Centre is tasked with protecting beachgoers and swimmers against sharks, while minimising environmental impact. It also conducts research into the biology of sharks and other animals caught in shark nets and drumlines, and offers a public education programme on safety precautions. At the centre, you can attend an audio-visual presentation on the role sharks play in the marine environment.  The show is followed by a shark dissection where you can see the internal anatomy of one of the ocean’s most feared predators. Shows screen every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 09h00 and 14h00 and on the first Sunday of the month at 14h00, at a cost of R45 ($2.8).

There is a museum onsite with a variety of life-like replicas of sharks on display, including an 892-kilogram Great White. The museum is open from Monday to Friday from 08h00 to 16h00 and the first Sunday of the month from 13h00 to 16h00.

If you’re interested in getting a closer look at the work the Sharks Board undertakes, you can book an early morning boat tour, where you will see staff servicing the shark safety gear off Durban’s Golden Mile beaches. The boat leaves the harbour from Monday to Fridayat 06h30 and the trip lasts two hours. This tour costs R300 ($18.8).

shark.co.za

Durban Botanical Gardens

Take a tranquil stroll around the Durban Botanical Gardens and get a look at one of the world’s top collections of ‘living fossil’ plants. These pre-dinosaur cycads (seed-producing plants extending back 250 million years) face possible extinction in the wild. Among a large array of plant life are orchids, bromeliads and palms, the garden’s speciality collections. There are also more than 80 heritage trees, many of which are older than100 years. And when your feet are tired, take a seat at the tea garden for a cup of coffee and a treat.

durbanbotanicgardens.org.za

Dollywood Dining

Treat yourself to an authentic Durban curry at this newly-opened attraction at the Point Waterfront. Calvin Jacobs aims to reinvent the ‘bunny chow’ experience with pimped-up side orders and meals true to the hotels and taverns of Chatsworth and Phoenix. The restaurant is open from 08h00 during the week and 11h00 on weekends, and closes at 20h00 from Monday to Thursday and 21h00 from Friday to Sunday.

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