From Drakensberg Charlene and I drove approximately 3 hours to Umhlanga, a very nice resort town on the shores of the Indian Ocean. I remember when we got there it was extremely humid. The humidity was so staggering that we wanted to stay inside a lot of the time. Umhlanga is a part of the KwaZulu-Natal region. It wasn’t until I got back to Canada and saw a Nat Geo tv show that I realized that this region is black mamba country, one of the most deadliest snakes in the world. Obviously you aren’t likely to come across one but definitely something I had in the back of my head.
We spent New Years eve sleeping away in a hotel in Umhlanga. Travelling is exhausting and we decided we were going to use this stop to have some down time. We stayed at the Protea Hotel -Umhlanga Ridge owned by Marriot. Within a 5 minute walk was a huge shopping mall called the Gateway Theatre of Shopping. Speaking to the hotel staff they were saying that this mall is the largest in the southern hemisphere. When we walked inside we were blown away by the size and quality of the shops this mall and it was definitely worth visiting.
We spent New Years day at the beach! It was a beautiful day with plenty of sunshine. The beaches weren’t busy in the morning but became crowded with locals and vacationers by mid-afternoon. In South Africa Christmas is essentially summer break.
The next day we took an Uber (yes, there are plenty of Uber rides in SA) about 45 minutes to Durban, a coastal city where they hosted the 2010 World Cup. As we were heading towards our hotel that was by the beach, we noticed what looked to be thousands/hundreds of thousands of people in the streets and on the beach. As we checked into our hotel, the hotel attendant kept recommending that there was lots of activities for us to do outside of the city. He provided us some brochures and we were like, why would he be recommending that we leave the city. Apparently someone from a family had been killed a few years earlier while vacationing and using the beach during this celebration. Apartheid was not that long ago and while things have improved, relations could still be better in parts of South Africa. The beaches used to be segregated, there is an article explaining an incident that took place in 1985 click here. When the hotel attendant seemed concerned enough to say maybe you should rethink your plans…. I said safety first. We decided to stay away from the beach and go to another part of the city.
We took an Uber from our hotel and went to the Victoria Street market. We wanted some art/memorabilia to remember our trip and this market had quite a wide array. I managed to pick up this beautiful tribal mask from Gabon.
Next we drove 5 hours up the coast to Tembe Elephant Park to start the wildlife/safari portion of our trip.