Sandy beaches, warm waters, and urban sophistication have long made Durban a favorite summer destination for residents of Johannesburg, Pretoria, and South Africa’s other landlocked cities. Summer here is October through April, and winters are mild. It’s also a magnet for travelers from other parts of southern Africa, and a great base for travelers, not far from some of the country’s best game reserves.
This subtropical region, with lush forests, plenty of birdlife, wetlands, mountains, raging rivers, and pristine beaches, is home to the offspring of several cultures that clashed here, Zulu, British, Afrikaner and Indian among them. Out of a tumultuous history, and the rich diversity of it's people, something new is still forming: a mix of languages, cuisines and political perspectives that's unique to this place.
Not surprisingly, there’s also a good-sized gay community. Look for gay and gay-friendly bars and clubs in Durban’s Morningside neighborhood. There’s also a budding scene in Berea. Cape Town and Johannesburg, however, are the country's gay capitals, with far larger gays scenes.
Same-sex marriage became legal in South Africa on November 30, 2006 with the Civil Unions Bill -- the fifth country in the world, and the first in Africa, where this was done.
Durban International Airport is about 25 miles from downtown. It’s a brand new facility, that was built in time for the 2010 World Cup events. Taxis are very expensive, so consider a shuttle bus.
A car is the best way to get around Durban. The buses are often unreliable, but taxis are fine. They don’t patrol the streets, so ask your hotel to call one.
Currency and Money
The rand is the local currency. Each rand is divided into 100 cents, making this an easy currency for foreigners to learn. ATMs are plentiful in Cape Town.
Local Media and resources
The Gay Durban Blogspot is a good source of local information from the guys at Durban View Guesthouse.
Exit is the gay news and listings source for all of South Africa.
The Durban Lesbian and Gay Community and Health Centre has community resources and info on the local gay scene.
BAT Centre (45 Maritime Pl) arts and culture community centre in Small Craft Harbour off Victoria Embankment; visual arts, music, acting, writing and literature workshops, exhibits, performances, cafe and shopping.
The KwaZulu-Natal tourist website has general information on Durban and surrounding areas.
Durban View Guesthouse (16 Holstead Gardens, Morningside) exclusively gay guesthouse at heart of Durban's trendy restaurant and nightlife pub zone; sweeping city, ocean views from rooftop sundeck and Jacuzzi.
La Bordello (47 Campbell Avenue) 7 room mini-hotel, decorated Moroccan style, next door to Bean Bag Bohemia bar and restaurant. Singles from R450-550, quality breakfast, airport transfers.
Protea Hotel Edward Durban (149 O.R. Tambo Parade - formerly Marine Parade) large gay-friendly four-star hotel, Victorian elegance on Durban's Golden Mile, five minutes from downtown; sea views, restaurant, bar, pool, WiFi, satellite TV.
Sommersby B&B (17 Claribel Rd) charming Morningside Edwardian, lovingly converted, wooden floors, high ceilings, fireplace, home atmosphere. Opposite Windermere Shopping Centre, near Musgrave Shopping Centre, main beaches, and casino.
Kloof is only a 20 minute drive from Durban. With a higher elevation, this is a place to get away from the summer heat and humidity of the coast. The Krantzkloof Nature Reserve here is home to a variety of wildlife and birds in indigenous forest habitat at the Kloof Gorge. Through here runs the Molweni River with a series of spectacular waterfalls.
Croeso B&B (1 Kloof Falls Rd) thatched home, two suites, separate cottage, patio overlooking pool and Jacuzzi, elegant dining, full English breakfast.
Inn Afrika B & B (31 Springdale Rd), one of original Kloof farmhouses, sub-tropical bird-filled garden. Modern comforts, separate entrances, cozy lounge with fireplace, dining room, pool, tennis court. Two hours from Drakensberg Mountain and Northern Natal game parks.
Mararanga Garden Lodge (1A Igwababa Road), 30 acre lush botanical garden, Valley of a Thousand Hills setting, elegant luxury accommodation, superb cuisine. Table dê Hote dinner menu, Tuscan Terrace breakfast and lunch - day visitors may walk in gardens. Spacious lodge, hand painted murals, original art, classically furnished lounge, grand piano.
Merrywinkle Gay Resort (88 Kloof Falls Rd) gay men, clothing optional pool, ten acre botanical garden, self-catering options, all units fully equipped, views, walks, tropical forest and waterfalls.
Villa Guesthouse (40 Pioneer Rd) Spanish villa suites, lounge with bar, patio overlooks garden and pool, views of Kranskloof Valley, and Indian Ocean.
Babylon at Sasha Club (18 Harvey Rd, Stamfordhill), monthly 8pm-4am 18+ gay dance party, male go-go dancers. See local media for dates.
Bean Bag Bohemia (18 Lilian Ngoyi Rd - formerly Windemere Rd) one of most popular eateries in Morningside, socialites and young people, busy hub of activity, downstairs patio cafe, upstairs formal restaurant, art exhibitions and wine evenings.
Bent at Fetish Lounge (Sails Bldg, 14 Timeball Blvd), monthly party night for "women who love women" - see website for end of each month dates.
Harveys (465 Innes Rd, Morningside) restaurant in landmark building between two elegant parks, two dining rooms, terrace, open-air cigar/cocktail lounge, retro-quasi-gothic-hunting lodge hodgepodge decor, regulars and glitterati.
The Lounge (226 Mathews Meyiwa Rd, Morningside) Tuesday - Saturday gay nightclub, 2 levels, 5 bars, 3 dance floors, outdoor balconies; lounge areas, pool tables. Bear's night each 2nd Saturday; Tuesday night Boy's Night, men-only in the Red Bar.
Snap Wine Bar & Cafe (41 Marriot Rd, Morningside) trendy wine bar, wide selection of South African wines, soups, salads, seafood, steak, burgers, pasta, vegetable platters, fresh baked baguettes with fillings.
Spiga d'Oro (200 Florida Rd) unpretentious, animated atmosphere, modern Italian menu, good value, open from breakfast time to early hours of next morning.
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