Africa South Africa Travel
My Top 5 day trips from Durban
July 30, 2015

mzansigirl jumps

I often get asked for holiday tips these days. Even though Durban is my home-town, it’s also South Africa’s favourite holiday destination and doesn’t get as much love as it deserves.

I’ve spent many a family holiday in KZN. Lucky for me my parents were really into travel, and even though they may not have afforded to take us on international holidays, they instilled a sense of wanderlust in me just by those short trips in KZN and around SA.

From camping on the South Coast – exploring rock pools with my brothers and fishing with my dad, to weekends hiking in the Drakensberg and holidays with our extended family in Hluhluwe, KZN is an fantastic family holiday destination.

As a follow up on my article on Top 12 Things to Do in Durban, here are some ideas of day (and weekend) trips to do around Durban. Just a few hours drive from the city you can experience all the diveristy KZN has to offer – bush, quiet golden beaches, mountains, heritage and art.


1. Midlands Meander

The Midlands Meander is one of the most popular routes in SA, and well-known to most Durbanites. It’s more than just a day-trip – there are just so many arts, crafts and heritage sites to explore. It’s quaint village are reminsicent of the English country side. I just love the green of the midlands, it has an almost colonial feel mixed with rich Zulu culture.

Don’t miss the Mandela Capture Site, outside Howick, with it’s magnificent steel sculpture of Madiba by Marco Ciafanelli. Visit the museum to learn about the capture of Madiba in 1962 and learn South Africa’s political history. While you’re there, visit the town of Howick with its lovely craft shops, and check out the impressive Howick Falls.

Mandela Capture Site (Image by Darren Glanville)

One of my favourite things to do in the Midlands is to visit Nottingham Road and it’s famous brewery located in the grounds of the charming Roawdon Hotel. Opened in 1996, it is the oldest microbrewery is KZN. Their beers are charming too, with names like the Pickled Pig Porter, Whistling Weasel Pale Ale and Tiddly Toad Lager.

For an adrenalin rush, head to Karkloof Canopy Tours, a great family activity where you can zipline over the forest canopy. There’s just too much to do on this route!

For more arts, crafts and foodie offerings in the KZN Midlands check out


2. The North Coast

This is Zululand proper. Heading north past Umhlanga (which I basically consider Durban) the KZN North Voast becomes a trail of sleepy seaside villages. Ballito, Shakas Rock, Salt Rock, are all worth a visit for the beach life.

The North Coast is so much more developed these days, compared to when I was growing up in the area. I can’t believe how much development there has been since King Shaka airport was built. To get far from the maddening crowds head deep north to Zinkwazi beach and it’s the gorgeous lagoon.

Well worth a visit is the Luthuli Museum outside Groutville. The museum is located in the house of Chief Albert Luthuli Musuem, the first African to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent stance in the fight for liberation.

For the best prawn curry in KZN, head to Impulse by the Sea in Tinley Manor. Disclosure: The restaurant is owned by my cousin, but I’m not the only singing their praises, their famous curries have been written about in various media. They also make a mean bunny chow, and a divine crab curry!

Impulse curry

Best prawn curry in the world at Impulse by the Sea

For the best prawn curry in KZN, head to Impulse by the Sea in Tinley Manor. Disclosure: The restaurant is owned by my cousin, but I’m not the only singing their praises, their famous curries have been written about in various media. They also make a mean bunny chow, and a divine crab curry!


3. The South Coast

The South Coast is close to my heart. My grandparents and dad grew up there, so we spent a lot of family holidays in the area, staying with family, in holiday homes or even camping at Ifafa Beach and fishing with Dad. I even lived there for a short while, waitressing at a local bistro and managing a backpackers on the beach.

There’s so much to do on the South Coast, with it’s golden beaches, which are a paradise off-season with excellent surf, diving and tons of family friendly activities. Some of my favourites are visiting Oribi Gorge – for the stunning views, or if you’re more adventurous attempt the Wild 5 Adventures, where you can go white-water rafting, abseling or on their Wild Swing. I’ve done the swing at the Gorge, and it’s not for the faint hearted!

South coasst beach

The South Coast is great fo fishing!

I just love the green of the South Coast and it’s abundance of little rivers meandering into the sea. The Mpenjati and Umtumvuna reserves are just gorgeous, their sub-tropical vegetation and abundant birdlife is typical of the KZN South Coast. And well, there’s the Margate – Uvongo area with it’s great family seaside offering, especially during school holiday season.

For more on the South Coast offerings pick up a copy of the local Southern Explorer magazine.


4. Hluhlwe-Imfolozi Park and iSimangaliso Wetland Park

The Hluhlwe-Imfolozi Park is one of my favourites game reserves, and it’s only a 2.5 hour drive form Durban. I’ve done it as a day trip, but to make the most of it, it’s best to spend the night. If you overnight, you can combine it with a visit to iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa’s first World Heritage Site.

rhino spotting

Rhino spotting in KZN

Hluhlwe Imfolozi Park is famed as the oldest proclaimed reserve in Africa and is home to 84 species of game including the Big 5. The park is famous for it’s white rhino population, which is tragically under treath from poaching. I love the hilly green landscapes of the KZN bush, quite different from the Kruger region.

top day trips in durban

Giraffes in the KZN busy

I’ve visited iSimangaliso Wetland Park many times with international guests and family, and have always been amazed by the diveristy of flora and fauna and even park activiites. Besides relaxing on the unspoilt beaches of Cape Vidal and Sodwana Bay, you can go diving, kayaking, hores-riding or ven crocodile psotting on an estuary boat cruise. High on my bucket-list is to do one of their turtle tours. I so want to see Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles lay their eggs!


Durban day trip

safari fun!


5. Drakensberg and the Sani Pass

Ok so maybe the Drakensberg it’s a little more than a daytrip from Durban, but is honestly one of my favourite places in South Africa. And I see a lot of tour companies go there for a day. There is nothing like the majesty of the Berg, the fresh mountain air and a little (or big) hike to make you feel at one with nature.


Heading downhill

Hiking with friends in the Berg

Driving up Sani Pass is one of the most incredible experiences. If you don’t have a 4×4, it’s best to do a tour. The panoramas are dramatic and the actual drive itself is the experience. Sadly the local authorities have recently approved that the Sani Pass road be tarred, which I think is a bit of a shame, half the adventure is getting up that crazy pass!

When you get to the top have a beer at the highest pub in Africa – you can even overnight there. Take a walk past the rugged stone houses and if you’re lucky you’ll come across a young Basotho herdsman riding his pony, dressed in traditional Basotho blankets. Don’t forget to take warm clothes. The temperature can go from 30 degrees at day to below freezing at night.

My favourite memories of the berg are warming up around fires, toasting marshmallows with my family, or going on hikes with friends and swimming in icy-cold rivers. It’s one of the places in SA that I cannot get enough of, and I know I will return year after year still amazed by it’s beauty.

Monks Cowl

 Do you have any other tips for day trips from Durban? Share them in the comments below!


Durban jumps

Somewhere near Ushaka 🙂


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Caltex South Africa.  Mzansigirl retains full  editorial control of all content published on this site.

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Meruschka Govender

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There are 6 comments

  • Pearl Francis says:

    Wow what an awesome adventure…

  • My boyfriend grew up in Durban, so I’m really hoping to visit some time. Thank-you for the great ideas!

    • Meruschka Govender says:

      Hi Katie! I really hope you get to visit soon. Durban is just lovely. I’m actually spending most of September travelling in KZN so, expect more Durban and KZN posts soon!

      • leo says:

        Hi Merushka if you have a chance visit us at Phezulu Safari Park in the Valley of 1000 Hills

        • Meruschka Govender says:

          Hi Leo. Thanks for the invite. Have a really full itinerary this time around but will consider for future trips. Woulld love to spend more time in the Valley of 1000 Hills.

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