Taking a day away from the beach, we headed up the main road from Durban to Pietermaritzburg then turned right to Botha’s Hill. Eventually we came to the fantastic view of the Valley of a Thousand Hills. What a tremendous view of the hills under a stormy sky.
Comrades Marathon Country
Heading back down the old main road we came across the Comrades Marathon wall of honour commemorating the achievement of those who successfully completed the “Comrades”.
The Comrades Marathon is, of course, the annual run between Pietermaritzburg, provincial capital of kwaZulu-Natal, and Durban. A distance of around 90km Largely following the old main road. The run is “down” one year, from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, and “up” the following year.
Lunchtime, Game Parks and the Meander
Heading back towards Durban we stopped off at the Phezulu Safari Park. It has a small wildlife park, but, having seen African wildlife many times in the bush, we were more interested in lunch. Sadly the restaurant was closed, but the view was good.
I’m told that a few of these parks have started up and this area features on the KZN Midlands Meander. That’s a trip worth doing if you are visiting the area. Having lived in kwaZulu-Natal we have seen most of the meander at various times, and it is a great area to visit.
A bit further down the road we found the Pot and Kettle. This somewhat eccentric appearing, family run restaurant gave us a good lunch.
A tug waiting for an incoming ship near cranes in Durban Harbour
Durban Harbour – The Port of Durban
Visitors on Durban beachfront as a laden container ship leaves Durban harbour.
If you live in, or stay around Durban you can’t help but be aware of Durban harbour. Spend a bit of time on the Durban beachfront and you can’t miss the large ships at anchor out towards the horizon. Ships of various kinds wait at anchor along the northern kwaZulu-Natal coast for their turn to unload and reload in the harbour. From our spot at Umdloti, one night we counted 33 ships at anchor, after a big storm the day before our arrival caused problems and delays.
Following the outlines of the bay discovered by Vasco de Gama in 1497, Durban harbour, technically The Port of Durban, is the second biggest harbour in Africa and is an important link in trade with South Africa and countries to the north.
Boats, Cranes and Restaurants
Durban harbour is also something of a tourist attraction. A number of restaurants are situated around the harbour. Tourists can take boat tours around the harbour, ranging from short small boat trips, to meals on one of the large floating restaurants. Want to go sea fishing? You can arrange the trip and sail from the harbour.
We took some time out at Zacks on Wilson’s Wharf and just sat and enjoyed a couple of drinks while we watched the activity in the harbour. The weather was good for a jaunt like this. Typical of Durban weather at this time of year, some days are overcast, some are sunny and hot. Even when it’s overcast, it is warm.
It’s amazing the watch the big cranes offloading containers from the ships. At a distance those big containers look like Lego blocks as the cranes effortlessly swing them away.
On a small spit of land nearby people are fishing, as we watch small pleasure craft taking tourists and school kids, on a day out, around the harbour.We noticed, too, big efforts to keep the harbour clean, with a group of workers picking up refuse which washes ashore.
French Navy frigate Floréal in Durban Harbour
Over on the other side we can see a navy ship in a berth, dwarfed by the container ship being loaded behind it. We later identified the ship online as the French Navy monitoring frigate, Floréal.
There is continuous activity going on all over.
Portuguese registered container vessel Jogela in Durban harbour mouth
Later in the day we headed for the harbour mouth. If you have never see a big ship coming into harbour, this is fascinating. We could see the ship clearly heading into the port.
We arrived in time to see the pilot boat returning from the ship. Obviously the harbour pilot was on board and the large container ship was on its way into the harbour mouth.
I had seen a tug move to park near some cranes, seemingly waiting for something. The tug moved up just in front of us and simply stopped dead in the water in the channel, something very odd to see, as boats normally don’t just stop in the water.
In due course the massive container ship moved in, engines just ticking over, dwarfing the tug. It looked as if it was going to run over the smaller boat. As the ship came along side the tug, it matched speed and stayed with the big boat to guide it to its berth. Obviously these crews do this every day, and make it look it look very smooth and easy, but it’s fascinating to watch for the first time.
We spent a bit of time on the beach near the Durban Ski-Boat Club. There wasn’t much activity on this Monday morning, but some good views of the city, and nearby apartments.
Visit the Harbour
In all the years I went to Durban on holiday, and then lived there I never went to see the harbour. If you are visiting Durban, make a point of it. It’s worth it.
Check out a selection of my Durban photos and buy some prints on my Pixels Site.
A lasting memory from my 2010 Hermanus visit is walking into town and eating breakfast under a tree looking over Walker Bay.
Of course, in 2017, we had to find that tree. It wasn’t hard, it is in the Burgundy Restaurant right on the edge of the bay.
Our group enjoyed a varied selection of breakfast dishes and club sandwiches. All well served and very tasty. Highlight of the meal seems to have been the eggs benedict, served, unusually, with chicken livers instead of ham or bacon. That’s a dish that none of us had ever tried.
All, of course, sitting in the open air with a view over the bay. hard to beat that.
Breakfast view over the bay
The “after breakfast” part was also interesting, but at this point it is necessary to add a side comment. In our family, on weekends and holidays, “breakfast” is typically any food eaten before about 2:00 p.m. In fact the Burgundy Restaurant stops serving breakfast at 10:00 a.m., but agreed to serve us a good hour later. so the drinking of alcohol immediately after breakfast was quite acceptable.
The restaurant was running a gin tasting promotion for a brand called “Three Dogs”. A couple of the group sampled three different gins, with tonic. Not to outdone those who preferred beers washed down breakfast with beer shandies.
I’m told that rosemary and blueberry gin is not great, but pomegranate, and mandarin and thyme are pretty good.
Gin tasting with a sea view.
True to the memory of my earlier breakfast, it was a great breakfast experience and one I would happily repeat.
The menu looks interesting, and the restaurant is popular, judging by the number of people there. I would certainly like to try out a few other meals here. Next trip maybe?