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 fwhich is followed by the opportunity to see the dissection of a shark caught in the nets, which is fascinating, but sadly only now conducted on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays at 09:00 and 14:00. As a result of this rather unorthodox experience, 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. This boat trip leaves Wilson's Wharf on Durban's Marine Parade at 06:30 each morning and oh dear, is yet another item added to my mile-long To Do list!
If you fancy a change of scenery, or just want to test your luck and see how much you can win, the Wild Coast Sun might be just the thing for you.
Its a Casino Complex about 2 hours drive South of Durban.
Set on one of the most unspoilt beaches in the country, located withing a large area of natural bush, overlooking the Indian Ocean.
With lots and lots of things to do, you will always be occupied.
Take a stroll on the beach, or lie next to the pool in the hot african sun, or you can be indoors trying your luck at winning some big money.
There is also a lovely golf course, where the SA Masters are held. Being one of the most beautiful in the country, and also one of the tougest!
VISIT THE OPENAIR CULTURE CENTER OF ZULULAND IN PHEZULU, VALLEY OF 1000 HILLS WITH TRADITIONAL DANCES OF THE ZULUS, ENJOY THE BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPE AROUND AND ENJOY A TRADITIONAL ROOIBOIS-TEA.
IN NEIGHBOURHOOD YOU ALSO CAN VISIT ASSAGY SAFARI PARK WITH CROCODILS OR THE HOTEL BOB ROY
Against the backdrop of the world famous Valley of 1000 Hills, is the location of the PheZulu (meaning high up) Village. Here at the PheZulu Safari Park, visitors are able to truly feel the rhythm of Africa, by getting an inside look into the Zulu culture and its fascinating lifestyle and rituals. The friendly Gasa Clan, will invite you into their world, which is likely to be a family visit you will never forget.
As you leave Durban along the highway towards Pietermarizburg you will soon come across the turn off which will lead you through spectacular countryside, you can also take another road through Durbans suburbs without needing to get on the highway.
The area you are driving through is known as the "valley of a thousand hills". It is absolutley superb - the area is so green and so very beautiful.
I will leave tips on this area on my Pietermaritzburg page.
My mum has perfected the art of locating the very best factory shops Durban has to offer. There are many factories in Durban that make clothing or shoes for the chain stores, or sweets and biscuits - the list is pretty endless - most of them have factory shops either on the premises, or in the vicinity of Durban. The prices on the items sold in the shops are usually less than half what you would pay in the shops...some of them are seconds: tiny holes in t-shirts, or misshaped biscuits - others are overruns, or just end of range items...you can find almost anything if you know where to look.
One of my favorites is the sweet and biscuit factory shop: all my favorite treats for less than half the price - woo hooo! This particular shop is located on Old Main Road, Pinetown, just outside Durban.
When you come inside the VOORTREKKER MONUMENT you will be treated to the sight of beautiful stone carvings of the walls. The carvings depict the history of the Boers as they came to Africa to start a new life and the struggles they faced.
As it was spring-time in South Africa, the vibrant violet blossoms on the JACARANDA TREES , were in full bloom. These wonderful trees line most streets in Pretoria. I was in complete awe of them, as I had never seen anything like it, except perhaps the Magnolia Trees in blossom in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Native to Sub-Saharan Africa, this unusual bird with its bright blue feathers is a VULTERINE GUINEA FOWL. I had a hard time finding out what it was, so Glenn (BwanaBrown) came to my rescue and identified it for me. Thanks Glenn, you were right on about it being a Guinea Fowl.
Tuesday, September 20, 1994
After visiting the Croc Park, our brother-in-law took us to the BIRD SANCTUARY. It had numerous kinds of exotic birds, some of which I have never seen before, indiginous only to South Africa. The one pictured here was a beautiful colored bird, which I believe to be a Red-Billed Toucan.
One of Pretoria's most impressive buildings is the VOORTREKKER MONUMENT.Dedicated to the history of the Boers and how they settled in South Africa and the difficulties that they encountered, not unlike the settlers who came to America. On the walls inside the Monument are carvings detailing the history of these brave people.
Hans and I walked up the stairs of the Monument and were awarded with beautiful views of Pretoria.
I believe the entry fee was around 25 rands.
Putting Pretoria in the "Off the Beaten Path" section, is a bit of a stretch because PRETORIA is actually located north of Johannesburg. Since Hans has a cousin who lives there, we went up to visit him, his lovely wife and two boys. They did an awesome job of showing us around their city. In the heart of the city is the CHURCH SQUARE. In the middle of the Square is a statue of President Kruger.
While at the Croc Park, we saw many different critters like this little guy being held by the "Snake Man". I have identified it as a FLAP-NECKED CHAMELEON. It is almost fluorescent green in colour and has two toes on each of its four feet. He certainly was an interesting little fellow.
The Croc Park also had a lovely pond, teeming with beautiful pink flamingoes.
One section of the Park was dedicated to the raising of baby crocs and there were dozens of them.
In the accompanying photo, Hans is seen with the "Snake Man" showing him a handful of snakes, Ewww.
The Croc Park had more than just crocodiles. They had a set-up of a Zulu Village, complete with grass huts. The village was high up a hill, overlooking the Indian Ocean. I crawled into one of these huts too and was amazed at how much room there was in it and how it felt warm and cozy inside, though a little stinky.
Located a short drive from Durban is the CROC PARK .Hans and I were fascinated with these huge creatures. We were there when it was feeding time and the keeper threw huge chunks of raw meat for the crocs to eat. They were not too ambitious though and the keeper had to prod them to get them to eat. "Come Come" he repeated, but their bellies were probably still too full.