Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Diving into Durban: An Unforgettable Adventure Sponsored by Lusaka Times

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By Changwe Kabwe, Lusaka Times Travel Journalist

Durban, with its sub-tropical climate and friendly people, has long been hailed as the warmest place to be on the shores of the Indian Ocean. I recently had the opportunity to experience the vibrant city firsthand as I represented Lusaka Times at Africa’s Travel Indaba, a premier African leisure trade show,organised by South African Tourism. From the moment I landed at The King Shaka International Airport, I could feel the buzz of excitement surrounding the event and the city.

The Indaba, which had returned in person after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, aimed to create market access for a wide range of African leisure tourism products. The event was preceded by a Business Opportunity Networking Day (BONDay), providing a platform for thought leadership, knowledge sharing, and the latest global trends in the travel industry.

Upon arrival, the airport was adorned with large branding materials promoting the Indaba, and registration desks were strategically placed to assist delegates. Shuttles were readily available to transport attendees to their hotels, and I hopped on one to reach the Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani. This iconic beachfront hotel offered breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean and served as my base for the next two weeks of adventure.

The welcoming dinner at the exclusive Pencil Club in Umhlanga was a taste of the luxurious experiences to come.The Pencil Club is inspired by the writings of I, Pencil by Leonard E. Read and is rumoured that it will set you back around K120, 000 for annual membership at the Pencil Club, a place where Durban’s socialites and politicians like to be seen. Over Merlot and delicious Lamb Shanks, I had the opportunity to meet my wonderful hosts and fellow guests from various African countries, representing the marketing, arts/entertainment, and media sectors. It was an exciting gathering filled with anticipation for the upcoming events.

LT travel journalist interacting with hosts at Max Lifestyle Village in Umlazi, Durban

The first three days of the Indaba were dedicated to serious meetings and industry discussions. The official opening ceremony was graced by South Africa’s Tourism Minister, Patricia De Lille, who passionately emphasized the need for collaboration among African countries rather than viewing each other as competitors. She called for a change in the visa regime across the continent, advocating for a harmonized system to facilitate travel and boost tourism.

As a Zambian journalist, I was particularly proud to witness Zambia’s strong presence at the Indaba. As if to make a statement that Zambia was back in the Champions League, the Zambian stand was not only the largest but it had the most traffic. The Zambian stand, creatively showcasing tourism products, attracted a significant amount of attention.On Day 3 after the closing ceremony, Zambia deservedly won the prestigious Nest International Exhibit Award at the Indaba. Hon. Sikumba accompanied by Permanent Secretary Evans Muhanga and ZTA Chief Executive Officer Matongo Mwatamwandi was in hand to receive the prize. To celebrate, a party was thrown at the stand, the Zambian way. The team from ZTA managed to bring in cases of the iconic Mosi Lager, they had Zambian cuisine served at the party and Finkubala and Dry Fish proved very popular with the guests. Music from Yo Maps and some classic Kalindula kept the guests dancing.

Tourism Minister Rodney Sikumba leads the Zambian delegation to collect the certificate for Best International Exhibit at the Indaba

I managed to sneak out and abandon my Zambian family for the first real excursion of the trip, the Durban Kasi Experience. Driven in top of the range brand new Jepp’s,we headed out to Umlazi, Durban’s largest township. We arrived just under 10 pm at a packed venue to sounds of Amapiano and some inviting aroma of Shisa Nyama,and I couldn’t resist indulging in both, after all, it was Wednesday night and we were at the most sought after place in Umlanzi, Max Lifestyle Village, a black owned establishment that was voted as one of the top ten restaurants in the world.

I decided to head out to the beach the following morning with a mission to shed off a few calories I had accumulated the entire time I had been there and merely eating and attending meetings.
I,therefore embarked on a beach run to enjoy the pristine coastline and the revitalizing waters of the Indian Ocean. The recent efforts to restore and clean the beaches after the floods were evident, creating a beautiful environment for outdoor activities. When I checked my smart watch, I had clocked a reasonable 5 kilometres on a sandy beach and was ready for more adventure.

A visit to Florida Street was another must-do experience recommended by our hosts. This vibrant area of Durban offers a taste of the city’s nightlife and culinary delights. We dined at an Italian restaurant, not far from the famous Wish establishment, where renowned South African rapper Aka was brutally murdered . The restaurant has since closed, but its memory lingers in the hearts of the locals.

LT travel journalist about to board the Durban City Tour Bus

They say the best way to know a city is to run through it, well, I drove around it. I hopped on the Durban City Bus Tour, a three-hour journey that took me through the iconic landmarks of Durban. From the Victoria Street Market, Moses Mabhida Stadium,the botanical gardens,the city hall up to Ushaka Marine.The tour offered glimpses of the city’s rich heritage and its strong ties with India, exemplified by the bustling Mahatma Gandhi Street. I learned that the deep connection between Durban and India dates back to the arrival of scores of Indians in the late 19th century, seeking work in the city’s sugar industry. Today, Durban boasts the largest concentration of Indians outside of India, making it a vibrant cultural melting pot.

With only a day left in Durban, I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity for some adventure tourism. Our group set off for a mountain hike in the awe-inspiring Drakensberg Mountains. As a first-time climber, I relished the thrill of the 1.5-kilometer trek, surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. The day concluded with a lively musical concert, the Be You Experience, held at Giba Gorge, where local talent showcased their musical prowess while we enjoyed the refreshing local beers.

The following day, our journey led us to the Eastern Cape, where we were greeted with a packed program of exciting activities. The Fynbos Golf and Country Estate became our home for the next three days, offering stunning views of the Tsitsikamma Mountains,sea-side cliffs and the mesmerizing coastline. Although I don’t play golf, I took pleasure in strolling through the beautifully manicured green course, soaking in the tranquility of the surroundings.

During my time in the Eastern Cape, I ventured into several exhilarating activities that reminded me of the joy of living life to the fullest. I experienced the adrenaline rush of a canopy tour in the Tsitsikamma Indigenous forest, gliding through treetop slides that offered a unique perspective of the lush greenery. Though I couldn’t summon the courage for bungee jumping at Bloukrans Bridge, riding a Segway for the first time brought out my inner child, as I effortlessly maneuvered through the picturesque landscapes.

LT travel journalist strolls through parts of Storms River on a Segway in Tsitsikamma National Park

South Africa’s Tourism Minister, Patricia De Lille, shared encouraging statistics during the Indaba, indicating a steady recovery of the tourism industry. The country saw an impressive 102.5% increase in tourist arrivals in the first quarter of the year compared to the same period in 2022, with a target of returning to pre-pandemic levels of nearly 6 million visitors.

As I bid farewell to Durban, I couldn’t help but reflect on the warm adventure I had experienced on the shores of the Indian Ocean.Thanks to the support and sponsorship of Lusaka Times, I had the incredible opportunity to embark on this remarkable journey. The city’s sub-tropical climate, welcoming locals, and diverse range of activities make it an ideal destination for travelers seeking both relaxation and excitement. From attending the Africa’s Travel Indaba to exploring the cultural and natural wonders of Durban and the Eastern Cape, this journey has left an indelible mark on my travel experiences.

If you’re yearning for an adventure in a city where summer seems endless, consider diving into Durban. With its vibrant atmosphere, stunning beaches, and a rich tapestry of cultures, it promises an unforgettable journey that will leave you with cherished memories and a longing to return.

12 COMMENTS

  1. More evidence that this Lusaka times is now funded by upnd cadres. This boy was being taken Care of by upnd minister. So how can we expect this boy to be unbiased in his reporting on other articles on LT. When we regain power in 2026 I will personally see to it that this website is blocked in zambia

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    • True. Journalists are obliged to state their sponsors when they write an article like this. It is suspiciously too long and one sided meaning the author is writing a payback for the sponsors. By the way the Indians did not come seeking work in Durban. The Zulus refused to work in the cane fields so the Indians had to be roped in as slaves.

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    • Not long ago you said you were well connected to LT
      Liars cannot remember their lies
      you’ve been busted yet again
      Yawn

    • Well connected but you never saw a single article funded by me singing praises about myself. Very ignorant upnd cow

  2. Ba Lsk Times nomba I also want to be sponsored to travel round the world as a old time commentator, others have come and gone abena Mushota where are you, Ba JayJay??? Ba Engineer Australia …some if not all these guys maybe are deceased….Mushota in Scotland possibly under went a se.x change to become a man, JayJay possibly died from high blood pressure due to his self imposed frustrations and Engineer Australia was blasted by some explosives he incompetently placed in an open pit mine…

    You see ba Lsk Times more of your viewers read my comments than they do read Changwe Kabwe’s articles…but life zero balance…yet I remain commenting with not even a star …and as for new comers like this sick animal Kaizer forget it…let’s see if it will be alive in 2 years time

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    • You come across as emotional. This is just blogging. Don’t take it too personal you soft gay. I told you that the issue here is LT accepting financial favours from a political party like upnd. So how can they remain unbiased in their reporting. Who knows what will happen in 2 years? You are right in that there is a big chance in two years I will leave this page because pf will be back in power and I Will be too busy sorting out upnds mess. Don’t be an emotional soft boy. Try semen retention for a month

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    • Very nice Ba LT! Next time consider me , I can explore US tourism in your half. I’ve been with you for a very long time.(though not a regular commentator) I wonder where the old timers like Mushota, MMD bootlicker,Jay Jay are.

    • Kikikiki how can I be gay when you are my bas.tard son? Please greet you mama for me, she was the worst one I had which explains why she gave birth to a cretin or a sick koswe like you Kaizer kikiki…tell her no hard feelings my mwana…do you get it??? No hard feelings…anyways you are too dull to get it.

    • 2020vision – Please please dont wish death on fellow bloggers..they are around they just do not have the same time as before…no time to roll in the mud with impostors/ trolls whose only purpose is to annoy you like above.

  3. Suspicious. How can LT ‘sponsor’ their own journalist? Isn’t it that supposed to be a normal beat?

  4. Congratulations to Zambia though we can do better as a tourist destination. In my view we have done very little to market Zambia, our emphasis has always been Vic falls.

  5. How do you sponsor someone to go and promote tourism in RSA when Zambia is crying out for visitors instead of promoting Samfya or Livingston? Shame on you LT; those Zulus do not even want you there…I bet you this man lives in RSA. You should be investing in a proper comments platform we can edit ourselves its 2023 not 2009.

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