Because the IES-sponsored Kruger National Park trip ended with four days still left of spring break, we were all sent back to Cape Town with a few days to kill before classes started up again. To future IES students reading this blog looking for ideas as to where to go for spring break: go to Durban.
We arrived in Durban and were immediately petrified that we were going to have four days of rainy weather. Moreover, we were scared that we had left Cape Town when it had finally gotten warm in favor of traveling to a city that was not only rainy, but looked like how we perceived the former Soviet Union to be: cloudy, enormous walls with barbed wire on top of them so escape isn’t an option, and utterly lacking in any happiness whatsoever. However, once the sun revealed itself the next day we were relieved and thoroughly satisfied with our choice for the remainder of our spring break.
The most interesting thing about Durban was the completely different demographic it offered from that of Cape Town. While Cape Town is mostly made up of strictly Blacks and Whites, Durban is primarily composed of Indians. I thought this was really interesting, as it gave me a better perspective of the different types of people who are considered “South African”. The stereotypical image projected into my head was that most Africans are Black, with a small number of Whites in South Africa. But being in Durban allowed me to update this image and have a different cultural experience.
Surfing in Durban was a great way to spend the day because you can surf in the warm Indian Ocean and not have to wear a wetsuit. While this was bad news for my body because of the amount of sunburn I received, it was still fun to surf again, especially without the fear of being attacked by a shark at any moment since Durban has shark nets surrounding the perimeter of its beaches.
Ushaka Marine World is also housed in Durban. This massive aquarium is the biggest in Africa and boasts an awesome water park. Honestly, the water park was my favorite part of the trip because it was enormous, featured a lazy river that ran through the aquarium, and had a bar.
Durban also has a casino, which is awesome because you can attempt to win money to further finance your trip. My brief love affair with blackjack lasted two days, when I won a decent amount of rand and then proceeded to lose all of it the next day.
Going to Durban was an interesting way to spend the last few days of my Spring Break. I recommend it to anyone considering traveling South Africa during your semester abroad. The different demographic, enormous water park, and just all-around atmosphere make it a must-see city for any student staying in South Africa.