Durban

The sprawling conurbation of Durban is Africa's largest port and although its appeal is not immediately apparent - few original buildings survive and it can feel hectic and overcrowded - it boasts wide beaches, an extensive beachfront and a steamy tropical climate. The city also has one of the country's most interesting cultural mixes - it is home to substantial Zulu and white communities and South Africa's largest Indian population. Away from the Central Business District (CBD) are attractive suburbs, where tropical foliage spills from ornate balconies and the fast pace of city life is all but forgotten.

Even though it has status, no international flights fly direct into
Durban International Airport
, www.acsa.co.za
, but instead come via Johan- nesburg. There are, however, numerous and regular domestic flights. Car hire desks can
be found in the terminal building and outside in the car park. There is a
tourist information office
, in the domestic arrivals hall, and several mobile phone rental shops.
The airport is 16 km from the city centre and transport into Durban takes about 30 minutes. Many hotels and backpacker hostels offer free airport collection/ transfer service. Alternatively, there are several private companies providing airport transfer services departing from the departure terminal such as
Airport Shuttle
, www.airportshuttle.co.za
. Note the new
King Shaka International Airport
is
presently being built at La Mercy, 35 km north of Durban and is scheduled to be operational
by mid-2010, when it will replace the current airport which will be decommissioned. It is expected that operations at the airport will be transferred to King Shaka overnight. For progress, visit the Airport Company of South Africa's website, www.acsa.co.za. Behind Durban railway station on Masabalala Yengwa Road (M12) is the
Motorcoach Terminal
for major long-distance coaches run by
Translux
,
Intercape
and
Greyhound
.

Transport in Durban

Durban has developed into South Africa's largest sea port and is also one of its main tourist centres. The approach to Durban passes through
coastal tourist resorts, industrial areas, townships and eventually reaches the Central Business District (CBD). The extensive beachfront and the most important landmarks are within easy walking distance in the city centre, but the CBD is now a pretty rough and ready district and you'd be advised to take a taxi between the sites. Confusingly, the street names in the CBD were changed in 2008 and presently signs feature the old and new names.
Mynah
, is a frequent local bus service that runs between the city centre, the beachfront and Berea and Morningside, R3; it's very useful if you want to get to town from the suburbs, or from the north or south of the city centre. Timetables are free and can be obtained from the city centre bus terminal, opposite the Workshop Shopping Mall on Commercial Road.

Tourist information

Durban Africa
, www.durban.kzn.org.za, www.bookabedahead.co.za,
is the city tourist information service, which is very helpful and produces a range of brochures, including accommodation, restaurant and events guides. It also offers hotel and tour bookings, coach and rail bookings, foreign exchange, a curio shop, a café and runs extremely good city tours.

Safety

Safety has been a long-standing issue in downtown Durban. Although safety standards plummeted in the late 1990s, a number of initiatives in recent years, such as an
increased police presence, the installation of CCTV cameras and upgrading of local housing,
has improved the situation a great deal. Nevertheless, it's sensible to keep your wits about you - stick to busy areas, don't carry valuables and avoid looking like a tourist. Most importantly, avoid the CBD at night unless you take a taxi. The suburbs by contrast are relatively safe.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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