Durban gets massive face-lift


Beachfront promenade is latest stage of this dynamic and fascinating city’s makeover

The recent completion of a R380m (€24m) beach-front promenade upgrade project in Durban has resulted in the creation of the longest uninterrupted beachfront promenade in Africa.

Durban is fast emerging as a “not to be missed” destination in Africa, surrounding visitors in the mystical and exciting Zulu culture and lifestyle, while being the gateway to the Hluhluwe – Imfolozi Park Wilderness Area, the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa (officially opened in 1895). It has the added “plus” of offering exceptional sporting and adventure tourism options. The city is also highly renowned for its culture, with the Inanda Heritage Route featuring the home base of Mahatma Gandhi before his return to India; Durban being the place where Gandhi developed his political views, ethics and politics. In 1994, it was also here that Nelson Mandela cast his vote in South Africa’s first democratic elections at Inanda’s Ohlange Institute. Fitting, given that the first president of the African National Congress, Dr John L. Dube, established this school in 1901.

The new seaside promenade is part of the €2.2bn Point Waterfront Development, which has seen a series of major initiatives to revamp the coastal strip to the stage of eventually rivalling Copacabana in Rio or Bondi in Sydney. Due for completion in the next two years, the final development will include new luxury hotels, residential apartments, office parks and retail developments – and will also see a new cruise ship terminal constructed nearby, work on which began in November 2019.

Over the past years, the Durban beachfront has been attracting major private sector investment, with the hospitality giant Tsogo Sun alone injecting more than R1.8bn (€113m) into the area. This includes a R1.5bn (€94m) expansion of its popular Suncoast Casino complex and a R220m (€13.8m) revamp of the 734-room Elangeni & Maharani Hotel at North Beach. Incidentally, sea views from this exceptional property are simply breath-taking.

The new promenade in Durban effectively links uShaka Marine World with the area’s most popular beaches, helping to attract tourists and investors to the area. It is 30 metres wide and runs from uShaka Marine World to Vetch’s Pier. On the northern side of the promenade, beach facilities and amenities include change rooms, showers for bathers and staff facilities. Also new are an amphitheatre, pedestrian ramps and new lifeguard towers.

Modern infrastructure around Durban includes the King Shaka international airport, which, built in 2010 around 60km north of the city to the strictest standards of safety and comfort, ensures smooth arrivals and departures for passengers. The choice of hotels and resorts in and around the city is very broad, including top class five-star seafront properties such as the Oyster Box and Beverly Hills Hotels.


GATEWAY… to Africa’s first reserve: the Hluhluwe – Imfolozi Park Wilderness Area was Africa’s first proclaimed nature reserve, second in the world only to Yellowstone. From Durban’s King Shaka airport, it’s just a couple of hours’ drive to the reserves, which, being privately owned, have the added bonus of not being overcrowded with tourists. The city is also gateway to the majestic valley of 1,000 hills.

Zulu culture at PheZulu Safari park

Durban is the capital of KwaZulu Natal province, and remains the beating heart of Zulu culture and traditions. Many of the cultures, customs, and traditions of King Shaka’s time remain the cornerstones of the Zulu people, and each year the Zulu nation celebrates Heritage Day during which the Zulu commemorate their hero, Shaka Zulu, as well as reviving their cultural traditions.

As the place where Gandhi formed his key ideas and mission, Durban was also the birthplace of the African National Congress, and the place where Nelson Mandela was arrested… and then, many years later, voted for the first time in free elections.