ZAMBIAN TRAVEL INDUSTRY DISCOVERS DURBAN

Published: 12 October
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KwaZulu-Natal is one of South Africa’s most diverse provinces. Despite being the third smallest province, it is the country’s second most populated area after Gauteng Province.

The area has been opened up to travellers from Zambia since 2016 with Proflight Zambia’s three-times-a-week service direct from Lusaka to King Shaka International Airport in Durban.

Travel agents from Zambia recently travelled to the city to see for themselves some of the attractions on offer.

Voyagers Zambia Travel Consultant Tamara Chomba described the Proflight Durban KwaZulu-Natal familiarisation trip as an eye-opener, adding that it unveiled a different side of the city often obscured by the country’s more popular destinations.

She said: “The lessons we learn from such trips and seeing first-hand how other countries sell their tourist destinations could go a long way in helping local travel agents play a bigger role in reshaping Zambia’s tourism sector for the better,” she said.

And Ukwenda Travel Zambia Managing Director Elizabeth Malama noted: “The trip provided a unique insight into the province’s natural beauty and its significance with regard to South Africa’s history.

“It gave me a new appreciation for KwaZulu Natal and Durban’s cultural heritage that will undoubtedly make it easier to create customised travel packages for our clients.”

Kingdom of the Zulu

KwaZulu-Natal rich vegetation that covers the coastal settlement’s unique landscape gives it some of the most captivating scenic beauty in South Africa – earning it the nickname ‘The Garden Province.’

Hugging the Indian Ocean to the east, KwaZulu-Natal extends from Mozambique in the north to Port Edward in the south going all the way to the Kingdom of Eswatini Swaziland and Lesotho.

Other than its beautiful beaches and stunning mountain terrain overlapped by lush grasslands teaming with wildlife, KwaZulu-Natal is perhaps more famous for being home to the legendary warrior king Shaka whose Kingdom occupied the northern part of the province in the 1830s to early 1840s.

 Having played host to some of the most famous battles in Africa along with key events like the formation of the country’s independence party – the ANC - Nelson Mandela’s first democratic vote and being the home of some of the country’s most iconic figures such as Mahatma Ghandi the province holds a huge chunk of the country’s and to an extent the continent’s history making it a prime destination for history buffs.

Getting there

KwaZulu-Natal’s largest city is Durban – which is also the country’s third largest city and Africa’s largest port.

The city’s main airport is King Shaka International Airport which lies about 35km north of the city centre.

Proflight is one of 70 international airlines that fly into South Africa, with direct flights from Lusaka to Durban taking just two and a half hours.

Proflight flies three times a week from Lusaka to Durban, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. P0024 leaves Lusaka at 09:10hrs on Tuesdays and Thursdays, arriving in Durban at 11:40hrs. On Sundays P0022 leaves Lusaka at 08:10hrs and arrives at 10:40hrs. On the return journey, the flight leaves Durban at 14:05hrs on Tuesdays and Thursdays, arriving in Lusaka at 16:35hrs. On Sundays it leaves Durban at 13:05hrs and arrives at 15:35hrs

KwaZulu-Natal has an excellent road network with several shuttles and shared rides readily available from the airport to the city.

Durban has an interesting blend of Zulu and Indian culture though much of the population communicate in Zulu and English in everyday interactions.  

Top attractions

Durban has a wide variety of tourist attractions ranging from diving, sportfishing and laid-back nature walks through the Drakensberg mountains, to game drives and adrenaline pumping activities like surfing, ziplining and a leap from the world’s tallest stadium bangy swing. 

Canopy tour

Set in the second largest indigenous forest in South Africa, Karkloof canopy tours is a popular destination for adrenaline seekers. The tour combines the thrill of extreme sports with the tranquillity of exploring a virtually undisturbed forest bursting with a plethora of colourful bird species, small game and luscious vegetation nourished by a network of natural springs and streams.

This set up coupled with the spectacular views of the canopy and adjoining valley from the slide platforms gives the tour a weird effect of being wildly exhilarating and refreshingly relaxing all at the same time.

The tour comprises a series of 10 slides ranging in speed, height and length with the longest ride stretching above the thick forest canopy for up to 200m. The shorter slides take the rider through the forest below the canopy putting them amongst the birds and the animals.

The adventure begins with a 4x4 ride up the mountain followed by a short hike through the forest to the first platform about 35 metres above ground. The rider then descends the mountain via the various stages of the slides taking them all the way to basecamp at the foot of the mountain.

The canopy tour is the perfect destination for both nature lovers and adrenaline seekers.

The big rush

Visitors looking for a higher dose of adrenaline can take a shot at the bangy swing at Moses Mabhida stadium. At a dizzying 106 metres above ground, the aptly named ‘Big Rush Big Swing’ has held the Guinness world record of “The tallest swing” on Earth since 14th May 2011.

To put this into perspective, the jumping platform is approximately 10 storeys higher than ‘FINDECO house’ – Zambia’s tallest building.

The extreme height provides the jumper a chance to take in the breath-taking view of the city on the shores of the Indian Ocean and perhaps come to grips with just what they’ve got themselves into before they leap off the platform for the thrill of a lifetime.

The heart stopping free fall into the gaping void of the stadium lasts about four seconds, but the intensity of the experience makes it feel closer to four minutes before the bangy cord tenses, accelerating the jumper into a 220- metre arc.

Once you overcome the natural instinct of self-preservation that kicks in as you stare into the vast emptiness below you while standing on a platform scarcely wide enough to accommodate two people with the elasticated bangy cord eagerly beckoning you closer to the edge, the exhilaration that follows is life changing.

The Drakensberg

This United Nations certified World Heritage Site is a hiker’s haven bosting a host of streams, waterfalls and valleys set among grand mountain faces.

Locally referred to as the uKhahlamba - a Zulu term meaning “the barrier of spears” – the Drakensberg mountains stretch for more than 200km with rugged peaks reaching as high as 3,000 metres above sea level.

The valleys offer more than just spectacular views of the area’s unique terrain. The mountains are home to a vast collection – about 35,000 paintings - of ancient San rock art making it one of the largest outdoor ancient art galleries in the world. The area also has several cultural villages dotted around its vast expanse where hikers can visit and immerse themselves in the evergreen Zulu culture. 

The picturesque mountains get an extra touch of intrigue in the winter (May to July) when the low temperatures cause some of the smaller waterfalls at high altitude to freeze over giving the appearance of a waterfall frozen in time against the dry rockface.

Ushaka Marine World

uShaka is the largest Aquarium in Africa and boasts the highest slide in the southern hemisphere.

The theme park was built around an old shipwreck which was turned into an aquarium and restaurant.

The Sea world portion of the park is comprised of a 1200-seater dolphin stadium with the world renowned ‘Gambit and friends’ serving as the main attractions. This section is also home to a saltwater aquarium with indoor and outdoor displays and exhibits as well as a seal stadium and penguin rookery. Aside from enjoying the animal entertainment, visitors can take a guided tour through the coral reefs and grottos dive tank.

If a dive into the coral is too tame for you, uShaka’s Wet ‘n Wild offers a host of adrenaline pumping rides including the highest slide this half of the planet. A crystal-clear freshwater swimming pool is available for patrons looking to get their feet wet without upsetting their pulse rate.

Kid’s are not left out as the park has a host of activities to keep in even the most adventus kids occupied for hours at uShaka’s kid’s world. Home to the continent’s largest jungle gym and giant sandpit, kid’s world offers children aged 2 to 10 years old plenty of room for monkeying around. The area also has a kids painting pen and a stage area for starlets to act out their favourite pirate scene.  

To top it all off, uShaka Marine World has one of Durban’s best restaurants in the newly refurbished Cargo Hold restaurant. The giant indoor fish and shark exhibits in the lower deck of the cargo hold are sure to add a different dimension to your dining experience.

Accommodation and Food

Being a richly diverse city, Durban offers a range of comfortable accommodation to suite just about every taste and budget.

For those looking for A-list treatment, the city’s coastline is lined with several high end hotels including Beverly Hills, The Oyster Box, the Hilton and many others.

If you are travelling on a budget, Durban still has a host of quality accommodation including the Seaboard Hotel, Sun1 Durban and Durban Manor with prices ranging from US$26 to US$57 per night. Despite their low cost, the hotels offer exceptional world class services that ensure your stay is both comfortable and memorable.

Finding a place to eat is Durban is easy with a host of reputable restaurants conveniently located within a walking distance or a short uber ride from most hotels.

Thanks to its rich cultural mix, Durban has a variety of local and international cuisines to suite every taste and budget. From low-end fast food eateries to luxurious fine dining establishments, Durban’s tantalising delicacies are a large part of the city’s culture and identity.   

Durban remains one of the most celebrated tourist destinations in South Africa. It’s easy going feel coupled with its endless adventure filled attractions make it the ultimate holiday destination whether you are looking to test your limits with extreme sports or are simply looking for a relaxing change of scenery.

Your dream holiday begins with Proflight.

About Proflight Zambia

Proflight Zambia was established in 1991 and is Zambia’s leading scheduled airline. From its base in Lusaka its domestic routes include Livingstone, Mfuwe, Ndola, Solwezi and Ndola-Solwezi and regional routes to Lilongwe in Malawi and Durban, South Africa, along with a direct service from Ndola to Johannesburg in South Africa.

The airline prides itself in providing a safe, reliable, efficient and friendly service, and offering good value to business and leisure travellers locally and internationally.

The airline operates a 50-seater Bombardier CRJ-100 jet, 50-seat Bombardier Dash 8-300, and three 29-seater Jetstream 41 aircraft.

More information is available at www.flyzambia.com.

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