100 reasons to love KZN

2013-10-12 11:00

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Here’s the lowdown on the places & faces you should know.

Fun 1. White Mountain Festival: Families head to this scenic venue near Giant’s Castle to listen to brilliant acoustic acts every September. 2. Durban Electro Festival: Also in September, it attracts SA’s top DJs. Galileo Open Air Cinema: Film classics are screened under the stars in Kloof every Wednesday in August and September. 

4. Story Sessions: A cool initiative that celebrates inspiring stories. Sessions are held in Durban and surrounds. Next one is in October and features Dr Mamphela Ramphele.

5. Midlands Meander This is where Durbanites head to on the weekends for great food, arts, crafts and pastoral views.

6. Vibey Durban city zones

Point Road: Durban’s successful inner-city renewal project, it has cool sidewalk cafés and great bars and clubs opening up. • Florida Road: it’s the cultural nexus of Durban, and has a vibrant, busy nightlife. • Corner Café: this eco-friendly spot always has something happening. Zack’s (Wilson’s Wharf): an international blues festival happens every September, but there’s also live music nightly. 

7. The Party at Southern Cross: An old-school Woodstock-style music festival in a gorgeous setting near Mooi River.

8. Vodacom Durban July: Love it or hate it, it’s a favourite and the province comes out to dress up, party and bet on the ponies.

9. Choirs KwaZulu has created two world-famous groups, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Drakensberg Boys Choir. Catch them if you can.

10. Mini Town Durban Built to a scale of 1:24, this is great for kids. In September the Mazaar Shareef of Hazrath Badsha Peer’s Mosque was added.

11. Durban Sandcastle Contest: On 28 September the world’s current sandcastle-building champion will

hold classes in this art. 12. Pecanwood Oktoberfest: A German-style craft beer festival with loads of crazy adrenaline-pumping activities.


13. Poetry Africa Poetry in all its forms is trending again. Don’t miss Insurrections, a collaboration between Indian and SA artists, including the truly remarkable musician Neo Muyanga.

14. Interpret Durban: A relatively new festival with events that take place over July/August. Think music, loads of art and parties. 15. Time of the Writer: Literary festivals are growing in popularity and KZN’s one is excellent. It happens around March. 16. Overnight Township Tour: A window into how many South Africans live: the good, the bad and the vibey, with a historical element too. 17. BAT Centre One of SA’s great original craft centres that hosts cool events all year round, including poetry slams every Wednesday, in the dock area.

18. Buddhist Retreat Centre: On Condé Nast Traveler’s list of top retreats in the world. A real gem.

19. The Playhouse Company: Always something good on at this theatre. The dance company’s working with international choreographers.

20. Art galleriesThe Tatham in Pietermaritzburg is one of SA’s major art museums and has a great collection. • KZN Art Gallery in Durbs screens interesting five-minute films. The Hilton Arts Festival: KZN’s version of the Grahamstown fest happens every September.  22. Jomba Contemporary Dance Experience Held every August/September, this is a feast of beautiful movement, including international dance companies. 23. SA Women’s Art Festival This thought-provoking and vibrant event is hosted by The Playhouse every August.

24. Durban International Film Festival: One of the first film fests in SA, held every July. Simply excellent.


25. iSimangaliso Wetland Park: A World Heritage Site, it has eight interlinking ecosystems and is unparalleled in its natural beauty.

26. uKuhlamba Drakensberg Park: These mountains have thousands of examples of San rock art and a centre dedicated to it at Cathedral Peak.

27. Mandela Monument: Near Howick, this impressive sculpture at Madiba’s 1962 capture site is made out of 50 steel rods.

28. Streetscene’s Heritage Tour From Mandela to Dr John Dube, this tour looks at Struggle-era heroes and more.

29. Blood River Heritage Site Much of SA’s racial conflict can be traced back to KZN’s many wars, with Blood River being among the most well known. There are two monuments here, Afrikaans and Zulu, and both raise the occasional eyebrow. Historians advise visitors to find out more and make up their own minds.

30. Rob Caskie’s battlefield tours Caskie leads gripping story-telling tours in which he brings the battles of Isandlwana, Rorke’s Drift and Spioenkop to life.

31. Luthuli Museum: Dedicated to Nobel Laureate Chief Albert Luthuli, one of the ANC’s great leaders, it’s in KwaDukuza.

32. Gandhi Monuments: In Pietermaritzburg there are two tributes to Gandhi, one at the train station and one in front of the city hall.

33. Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple of Understanding: Built in 1969 in the shape of a lotus flower, this opulent Hare Krishna temple

is the largest in Africa.

34. Shri Mariamman Temple In Mount Edgecombe, this Hindu site was claimed in 1890 by Indian labourers.

Extreme sports

35. Surfing Mr Price Pro Ballito in July is SA’s top surfing competition. There’s also a beach festival around it. Best waves: There are too many on this wonderful, warm coast to list! Learners: Durban and surrounds has a host of good surf schools to choose from. Artificial wave: Fun at Gateway for when the swell’s not cooperating, or for newbies. Skateboarding: The ‘urban surfing’ scene is taking off in a big way. Parks at Gateway, Durban beachfront, and Mandini. 36. Mountain biking: full range of options. Sani Spoors offers some of the best guided trails in the southern Drakensberg. 37. Dive with sharks: Scuba dive with raggie, tiger, bull, blacktip and hammerhead sharks, plus whales, dolphins and more – without a cage. Comrades Marathon: One of world’s toughest races happens in June and is KZN’s biggest sports event to participate in or watch.

39. Tiger fishing The Pongolapoort Dam is home to this feisty fish, but you can do it in style from the Shayamanzi houseboat. Rap jumping: Descend down the Shongweni Dam wall face first. 

41. Ice Climbing: In winter around Giant’s Castle and Sani Pass, this adventurous pursuit needs a high level of experience.

42. Paragliding and hang-gliding: Bulwer is one of the best sites to learn these exhilarating, silent sports – the closest you can get to flying.

43. Highest swing in the world: Plunge off the waterfall at Oribi Gorge, on the South Coast, into an abyss over 55 storeys high.

Famous faces

44. DJ Tira (singer/producer/DJ) Best known for his collaboration with kwaito trio Big Nuz. He also produces some of the biggest names in Durbs, such as T’zozo, Professor and Durban’s Finest. Why we love him: He’s a friendly fella who works hard to put Durban musicians on the map.

45. L’Vovo (kwaito singer) Best known for making waves with his debut album Derrango a few years ago. Why we love him: He made new fans this year when he took part in TV’s Strictly Come Dancing.

46. Big Nuz (kwaito group) Best known for hitting the big time in 2008 when they released 2nd Round Knockout with DJ Tira. Why we love them: They are proud KZNers. NUZ is the vehicle number plate of their hometown, Umlazi.

47. Leleti Khumalo (actress) Best known for her role in Sarafina!, as an HIV-positive mother in Darrell Roodt’s movie Yesterday and as Busi Dlomo on Generations. Why we love her: Her portrayal of characters who bring humanity to South African issues.

48. Anant Singh (film producer) Best known for films such as Sarafina!, Cry, the Beloved Country, Material and the upcoming biggie, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Why we love him: His work has helped make us a player in the overseas movie market.

49. Lloyd Cele (singer) Best known for coming second in Idols 2011. Why we love him: He’s made a SAMA-winning album, No Limits, and performs regularly.

50. Khaya Mthethwa (singer) Best known for being the first black winner of Idols in South Africa. Why we love him: For his super-smooth, John Legend-type voice.

51. Terrence Bray (designer) Best known for his gorgeous creations, showcased at Fashion Weeks around the country. Why

we love him: He’s one of few SA designers to have made an impact overseas. His designs have sold at concept store Treasure & Bond in New York.

52. Deena Naidoo (chef) Best known for winning the first MasterChef SA title, last year. Why we love him: He effortlessly proved Indians can do more in the kitchen than cook curry (although his curries are to die for, too).

53. Kamini Pather (chef) Best known for winning MasterChef SA this year. Why we love her: The food blogger turned her love for writing to cooking and did it with style.

54. Pearl Thusi (actress and presenter)

Best known for hosting shows such as Real Goboza, and starring in TV shows Zone 14 and most recently Isidingo. Why we love her: Pearl is more than a pretty face – she’s a single mom with a heart of gold.

55. Mbongeni Ngema (producer/director/songwriter) Best known for his work on the original theatre version of Sarafina! He also caused controversy with his song ‘AmaNdiya’, about racism. Why we love him He’s a Tony Award-winning director and a major player on the SA theatre scene.

56. Bridget Masinga (actress/presenter/Miss SA runner-up) Best known for presenting All Access and The Road to Miss SA. Why we love her: Bridget is one of the friendliest and most easygoing former Miss South Africa contestants. She’s versatile and bubbly and proud of her Durban roots.

57. Chad le Clos (swimmer) Best known for winning the gold medal in the 200m butterfly at the London Olympic Games last year, beating long-time champion Michael Phelps in the process. Why we love him: He’s at the top of his game and has boyish charm bar none.

58. Minnie Dlamini (presenter) Best known for presenting LIVE on SABC1 and acting in The Wild and Rockville. Oh, and for dating Bafana Bafana goalkeeper and captain Itumeleng Khune. Why we love her: She’s down to earth, breathtakingly beautiful and super talented. She and Itumeleng are like the Posh and Becks of SA.

59. Noni Gasa (fashionista/writer/presenter) Best known for her work on the youth show Take 5 and then transforming into a style icon and savvy fashion journalist. Why we love her: Those freckles, that flair… Noni’s a keeper!

60. Robert Marawa (sports presenter) Best known for presenting soccer shows Laduma and TopSport before heading to SuperSport. Why we love him: His knowledge is unparalleled and he’s great on TV.

61. Gavin Rajah (designer) Best known for dressing some of the biggest names in SA, and regularly showing at Paris Fashion Week. Why we love him: Gavin is a goodwill ambassador for Unicef.

62. Devi Sankaree Govender (journalist/presenter) Best known for being a columnist, radio DJ and straight-talking presenter on Carte Blanche. Why we love her: She’s got razor-sharp wit.

63. Tanit Phoenix (model/actress) Best known for gracing magazine covers, starring opposite Jared Leto and Nicolas Cage in Lord of War and playing sexy Eve in the Spud movies. Why we love her: She’s currently giving Hollywood her best shot.

64. Candice Boucher (model) Best known for being a sex symbol and starring in the Bollywood movie Aazaan. Why we love her: She’s one of the faces of Guess, flying the SA flag high and modelling extensively overseas.

65. John van de Ruit (novelist/actor) Best known for penning the hugely popular book series Spud. Why we love him: He inspired thousands of South African kids to read and helped us laugh at ourselves too.

66. Kerishnie Naicker (beauty queen/philanthropist) Best known for being the first Indian Miss South Africa. Why we love her: She’s involved in children’s, HIV/Aids and education charities .

67. Patrick Lambie (rugby player) Best known for being an all-or-nothing Bok and Shark utility back and a crowd favourite at every match – particularly with the ladies. Why we love him: He’s been a Sharks stalwart since the age of 19.

68. Jonty Rhodes (cricketer) Best known for being one of the best fielders the Proteas have ever had. Why we love him: As an epileptic, he showed others there is no obstacle to success as long as the condition is controlled.

69. Sorisha Naidoo (actress and socialite) Best known for playing Nadia on eTV soapie Scandal!. Why we love her: She always gives back to her community.

Hot hangout

70. Roma Revolving Restaurant has been operating for 30 years and is a true Durban institution. The rooftop restaurant situated on the 32nd floor of John Ross House on Margaret Mncadi Avenue in the CBD rotates 360 degrees, giving diners great views of the city and harbour. If you’re in the mood for sundowners, Gino’s Sky Bar is the perfect setting for summer nights.

71. Café Vacca Matta at Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World near the beachfront is a favourite nightspot for the young crowd. It offers great views of the sea from the balcony, and the vibe is great.

72. Joe Cools on Lower North Beach Road is a bar/restaurant/nightclub that has been a popular haunt for years. The music is mostly 80s and 90s and the crowd is varied. It’s the perfect spot to wind down after a day at the beach.

73. Moyo at uShaka Pier justs out 150 metres into the sea on South Beach, next to uShaka Marine World. The food is fantastic and the cocktails just as good. For sundowners or parties, this has fast become a favourite. 74. The Oyster Box Hotel in Umhlanga is one of the best places to spot famous faces – it’s where our homegrown Princess Charlene of Monaco held her SA wedding celebrations. Go for drinks overlooking the Indian Ocean on the terrace and watch the ships go by or enjoy a sumptuous fine dining experience at The Grill Room. 75. Zack’s at Wilson’s Wharf is a relaxed restaurant setting on the docks at the harbour. The menu is extensive but most people prefer to go for drinks and live music. Do yourself a favour and try the deep-fried ice cream – you’ll be back for more. 76. The Brittania Hotel in Umgeni Road may not be the nicest-looking building in Durban, but boy can it pull a crowd! The restaurant has earned a reputation for the best Indian food around – the mutton bunny chow is by far the most popular dish on the menu.

77. Catalina Theatre at Durban Harbour is a quaint little place that’s hosted a variety of shows and performances, including stand-up comics. Enjoy a drink overlooking the water before going inside.

78. Tiger Tiger on Stamford Hill Road attracts the youngsters every weekend. If you’re into clubbing and want a great night out, you can’t go wrong here.

79. Origin is set over three floors of the historic Winston Hotel in Glenwood. It doesn’t matter if you come in takkies, a vest or a T-shirt – as long as you’re up for a party, you’re allowed in!

80. LIVE – The Venue is also on Stamford Hill Road. It hosts acts from Van Coke Kartel to international bands like The Kongos.

81. Empyre nightclub has separate themed bars for shooters and champagne and various dance floors catering to every taste.

82. Bellagio – another nightclub on the Stamford Hill Road strip – is where you’ll find the elite of the Durban scene. It’s one of the busiest clubs in town, with MVG and Privé rooms available for private parties.

83. Moses Mabhida Stadium isn’t just a venue for sports matches and concerts – it’s become a popular hangout, whether for lunch, a trip on the Sky Car or a jump from the Big Swing. And if it’s a night out you’re after, the Cuba Lounge’s soundtrack ranges from Latin to old-school hip-hop and R&B.

84. Crush nightclub in Ballito up the North Coast often hosts top 5FM DJs.

85. Beach Bums at Casuarina Beach in Tongaat has a relaxed atmosphere – kids can build sandcastles at this on-the-beach spot while you sip cocktails and enjoy live music on Saturdays and Sundays.

The beach bowls (cocktails in a bowl) are legendary, but be warned: they’re not for sissies.

86. The SunDeck at Suncoast Casino is perfect for the family. You can hang out at the beach in front of the casino, soak up some rays and enjoy sundowners or a picnic while the kids amuse themselves on the beach or the lawn.

87. Cargo Hold restaurant at uShaka Marine World is the ideal stop for lunch or supper and drinks after a day at the aquarium. There’s an awesome shark tank in the middle of the restaurant, so you can watch the sharks swirl by while you eat.

88. The Wavehouse at the Gateway Theatre of Shopping is popular with kids and teens, and adults can enjoy a meal and a drink while overlooking the artificial waves. 89. Florida Road in Morningside is one of Durban’s most popular spots. Whether you’re in the mood for great Italian (at Spiga d’Oro), Mexican (at Taco Zulu) or a night out with friends, this is the place to be. You can also shop up a storm (try Luna and Gorgeous), take in art (at the Elizabeth Gordon Gallery) and get a tattoo or piercing (at Body Art). 90. Boulevard – or BLVD as the locals call it – is where the beautiful people go to party the night away, enjoy cocktails and listen to music. Sunday afternoons are popular for half-price sushi (from 4 pm). Top restaurants

91. Hartford House for fusion fine dining near Mooi River in the Midlands. 033 263 2713

92. 9th Avenue Bistro for a contemporary bistro vibe in Morningside, Durban. 031 312 9134

93. Remo’s Fratelli is an authentic Italian eatery and bakery in Umhlanga. 031 561 7143

94. Capsicum for spectacular Indian fare in Durban Central. 031 303 2266

96. Lupa Osteria for authentic Italian in Hillcrest. 031 765 3059

97. Spiga d’Oro for Italian in Morningside. 031 303 9511

98. Café Bloom for contemporary homemade meals in Nottingham Road, Midlands. 033 266 6118

99. Craft Trattoria is an Italian bistroin Durban North. 031 562 1951

100. Little Havana steakhouse in Umhlanga. 031 561 7589

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