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Although the area was originally discovered by Vasco Da Gama in 1497, and had probably provided refuge for seafarers as early as 1685, it wasn’t until 1824 that the settlement of Port Natal began to take shape. Originally, the settlement was comprised of 30 people under the leadership of Francis Flynn who used the port to trade ivory, and in 1835, the settlement was renamed Durban after Sir Benjamin D’Urban, who was Governor of the Cape. It wasn’t until the settlement was formally annexed in 1844, that the dense coastal vegetation made way for buildings with broad verandas and civilised English traditions such as morning papers, afternoon tea and weekend horse racing!

Durban Harbour

Sugarcane grew well in the tropical climate, and became the region’s ‘white gold’ with large fortunes being made by the sugar barons of the day. Thousands of indentured labourers were brought from India to work the sugar plantations during the 19th century, and Durban now boasts the biggest population of Indians outside of India. As a result, there is a strong Indian influence on Durban’s architecture, cuisine and customs.

Durban is now South Africa’s second most populated city, with the 2001 census recording 3.2 million individuals living in Durban, and is also the biggest metropolis of KwaZulu Natal. With the original bay being one of the few natural harbours along the eastern coastline, the Durban harbour is now the busiest port in Africa.

eThekweni Durban has grown to be a sophisticated, cosmopolitan, vibey city with great restaurants and bars, museums, arts and crafts, theatres, beaches, marine parks, botanical gardens and shopping. (see our list of 101 Things to do in Durban). Durban is also an excellent starting point to explore the Kingdom of the Zulu. The unspoilt coastline of the Transkei, the countryside of the Natal Midlands, the game reserves of Zululand and the mountains of the Drakensberg are all only a few hours drive away from Durban.
ACCOMMODATION GUIDE: Durban Accommodation by Town:
Amanzimtoti Amazulu Reserve Balgowan Ballito
Berea Bergville Bluff Blythedale Beach
Boston Bothas Hill Cathedral Peak Champagne Valley
Clansthal Currys Post Dargle Dundee
Durban Central Durban North Estcourt Giants Castle
Gillitts Glenashley Glenmore
Glenwood Greytown Hibberdene Hillcrest
Hilton Himeville Hluhluwe Howick
Isandlwana Ixopo Kamberg Karkloof
Kloof Kokstad Ladysmith La Lucia
Lidgetton Lions River Lüneburg Margate
Melville Beach Mkuze Mkuze Falls Reserve Monks Cowl
Mooi River Morningside Mtubatuba Munster
Musgrave Newcastle Nottingham Road Oslo Beach
Palm Beach Pennington Pietermaritzburg
Pongola Pongola Reserve Port Edward Port Shepstone
Ramsgate Richards Bay Rosetta Salt Rock
Sani Pass San Lameer Scottburgh Selborne
Shakas Rock Sheffield Beach Shelly Beach Sodwana Bay
Southbroom Stanger St Lucia St Michaels on Sea
Sunwich Port Umdloti Umhlanga Umkomaas
Umtentweni Umzumbe Underberg Uvongo
Van Reenen Vryheid Wartburg
Westville Winterton Zimbali Zinkwazi
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