Ricksha Bus, Durban - South Africa

Durban City Tour – The Ricksha Bus
Having never been to Durban I opted for the city bus tour to get my bearings and some ideas for more serious sightseeing. Durban’s version is the Ricksha Bus (deliberately not Rickshaw, to avoid confusion with the Hong Kong equivalent apparently). It runs twice a day, seven days a week with a live guide commentary.

The Ricksha is not a Hop On-Hop Off, more of a three hour Hop On, starting at the tourist office near North Beach on the Golden Mile. Durban is famous for its beaches and sea sports (a surfer’s paradise) and having run alongside them on the ‘The Mile’ (more like four) the previous morning I can vouch for them - and for the wide, clean and attractive Mile promenade.
uShaka Marine World
The bus headed south along the sea front to the uShaka Marine Park, which houses one of the largest aquariums in the world. After a little scenic meandering it doubled back and headed west along the harbour to Wilson’s Wharf. The Wharf is the city’s trendiest location for food, fun and festivals, shows, crafts and everything South African – sea, sun and the outdoor marine life. A must-do, hop-off go-to for another occasion!
City Centre
We turned into the city, past the lovely Emmanuel Cathedral and the famous Victoria Market. Durban has the largest Indian population outside Asia and the market is the heart of the local Asian community and culture. There is a fantastic African/Oriental mix of food, clothes and crafts here. A great place to wander and pick up a bargain. I could see all the colour and feel the fantastic buzz from the top of the bus, but this time I had to keep going…

The bus doubled back through the city centre and Francis Farewell Square, commemorating the founder of the city, as Port Natal, and housing a series of stunning monuments and buildings from that historic period in the region’s history. Then on to the enormous International Conference Centre, the leading conference centre in Africa and one of the best in the world.

The Kwa Muhle Museum along the road is one of four Local History Museums in the city which highlight Durban’s turbulent Apartheid past. Having seen the magnificent Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, I would have liked to explore them. Perhaps next time.
Burman Bush
We left the city centre and headed for the neat leafy suburbs to the northwest. I was surprised how pleasant it was, especially when we passed through Morningside and past the Burman Bush Nature Reserve, an isolated, pristine 136 - acre remnant of the coastal forest. The Bush is very popular, with trails, picnic areas and its own colony of Velvet Monkeys. This unexpected oasis of forest is just a small part of the Durban Open Space System, comprising 183,000 acres of linked land and water! Amazing.
Moses Mabhida Stadium
It wasn’t much further to The Cube viewing point, one of the route’s highlights. It’s a huge 3-D cube covered in colourful mural art, installed for visitors to the 2010 Soccer World Cup. The bus stopped (for the second time - there was a toilet break earlier!) so that we could savour the stunning view over the city. It was a lovely day and we were reluctant to leave. But, we came back to earth, via a number of other great attractions, including the fabulous new Moses Mabhida Stadium overlooking the Golden Mile - which was where we started.
I could have happily jumped off at any number of places, but the Ricksha had served its purpose. I learned enough about this great port city to bring me back one day, linger a little longer and focus on my favourites. It’s worth it!
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