The only Kingdom in South Africa
KwaZulu Natal is home to the Zulu nation. The tribe from "heaven" as Zulu means translated, was brought onto the world map by King Shaka who with fierce battles brought many of the smaller tribes under one group. His battle strategy was so advanced that he received the nickname the Black Napoleon. Even during the wars against the British the Zulus had a few victories.
Today Shaka still plays a very important role as the old leader of the Zulus and hence KwaZulu Natal has a King to this day.
The brilliant Natal Sharks Board at Umhlanga
For me, the Natal Sharks Board is one of the most interesting places to visit in KZN, and a 'must' for anyone with an interest in marine animals.
The Natal Sharks Board is responsible for shark protection along the KZN coast and this centre was set up as an educational facility to help people better understand the role that sharks play in the marine ecosystem and to explain the shark protection strategy employed.
Sadly I haven't had the chance to visit in a few years, but when I did, the experience was amazing. Sharks get a bad press, and it is refreshing to understand that they do in fact have value and purpose in their ecosystem, as well as admire the fact that they are so well adapted to their environment that they have survived virtually unchanged for a couple of hundred million years.
In particular I was fascinated by my reaction to the shark tank. Looking in from the side (from where you can see the business end: the jaws), I was quite laid back, but when I looked down on the tank from above and saw fins protruding, some primeval instinct kicked in, and I was terrified. I'd be interested to know whether anyone else reacts in the same way!
The visit included an audiovisual presentation followed by the opportunity to see the dissection of a shark caught in the nets, which was fascinating. You certainly come away with a new and better informed opinion on sharks. When I visited, they dissected a ragged toothed shark, a species that has two uteruses, and gives birth to two live pups. Two uteruses in one animal is strange enough, but what is even weirder is to learn that only two pups are born because they predate on their unborn brothers and sisters in the womb! Talk about survival of the fittest - Darwin would have been most impressed!
The Sharks Board also offers the opportunity to go out on a boat to accompany the crew that clears the nets - although they emphasise that sharks are not often caught, this would be a great opportunity to see dolphins and sea birds. Oh dear, yet another item added to my mile-long To Do list!
Train Service to Durban
Durban can be reached by train from Cape Town and Johannesburg, though train journeys in South Africa take quiet some time. The duration from Cape Town is more then 30 hours and 12 hours from Johannesburg. Yet the journey is comfortable and inexpensive.
Main Post office West, Durban
This lovely old building was originally designed and used as the Durban Town Hall. Today it serves as the General Post Office Building. The building was designed in 1882 by Phillip Dudgeon. The foundation stone was laid in 1883 and the building was opened in 1885. The building is an outstanding example of neo-classical architecture and played a very important part in the history of Natal.
It is lovely that old buildings are not just desttroyed, but used for something totally different when it is no longer functional for what is was originally intended for.
Rugby Fever at the Shark Tank!
As the saying goes .... "when in Rome, do as the Romans do!"
Durban lives and breathes sport, especially rugby (which is a sort of a relgion in South Africa!!). Our home team are the Natal Sharks, who play at the ABSA Stadium.
During the rugby season, if you are in Durban, get to a match. The atmosphere at the rugby is always great, but what makes Durban unique is the post match functions.... win or lose.
The fields surrounding the stadium are alive with people, most enjoying a braai (BBQ) with a few beers which goes on for ages after the match.
Some of the suites in the stadium, convert into nightclubs later on and the party rages on until the wee hours of the morning.
A cultural experience with a difference!!