5 Nature Soul-filled Activities to do while visiting Durban. I sit on the small dune hill, right in front of the North Star Hotel sipping on my tropical fruit drink, looking towards the ocean, the fishermen, and the boats in the distance. My earliest memories of school holidays were arriving on the North Coast. As I opened the car door, the humidity surrounds you as drops of sweat rolls down your arms. My parents contain us as we lock the car and get ready to make a run for it to feel the warm beach sand and ocean splash against your skin. Childlike happiness, pure bliss. The current lockdown is strict, but the beach is accessible.
At sunrise, the air is fresh, the sun shines warmly over the blue-green waves, casting shadows as I take steps in the sand. There are remains of bait sucked into the sand. I look for shells and shiny ocean pebbles walking through the Indian Ocean water. The beach stretches out as far as I can see. Early in the morning fishermen, cast bait into the breakers.
I see silver spinners flying through the air catching the sun. As I approach the rock pools, the ocean life and baby fish are busy chasing around in the shallow water grabbing food. Colorful and shy, these creatures disappear under the rocks into the next bigger rock pool. A few golden black mussels grip onto the exposed rocks. I look to spot an Octopus, high hopes. An hour later, I feel happy to be able to stroll down the beach at sunrise. By 7 am, I am back in my room, ready to shower and take on the day.
Durban Botanical Gardens
This week the Durban Botanical gardens open for guests. You can visit between 7:30 am and 2 pm, weekends will be closed, due to limited staff during the lockdown. Arrive prepared with water or a refresher drink. Restrooms will be closed, and only a limited amount of people will be allowed into the park. The park is currently a little bit wilder and unkept, the lockdown has allowed nature to grow wild. The Durban botanical garden is the oldest surviving African garden. The garden curated collections such as orchids, cycads, and palms. The garden’s collections are exotic and promised a rich learning experience into the world of plants. The selection of plants curated into the garden consists of nectar to attract butterflies and bees. The garden is an ideal environment for caterpillars to hatch and feed on the correct plants to develop into butterflies. A butterfly filled botanical wonderland.
Umgeni River Bird Park
A bird park housing more than 800 birds from over 200 species. Exotic and beautiful, colorful and peculiar, did I walk into a Tim Burton film set?
I am overwhelmed by the size of some of these birds. They stand majestic, and proud voicing their presence. As I enter some of the enclosed areas, there are colorful birds nestled between every branch and leave. They sing and chirp between the humidity of the trees. The park is an educational wonderland highlighting the diversity and beauty of birdlife in South Africa. The park focuses on conservation and entertainment to create an environment of free flight and safety for exotic bird species. Be prepared to experience a colorful and vocal walk through tropical areas housing magnificent birdlife.
Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve
Situated at the mouth of the Ohlange river, Umhlanga nature reserve is popular to walk the wooden boardwalk in the heart of Umhlanga Rocks. The reserve is home to many coastal forest species and wetlands. The forest is full of various indigenous wildlife, duikers and bushbuck, and numerous wild bird species. There are many waterbirds, ff you are patient, the sight of a fish eagle diving for a catch could fill your lens. You can book a guided walk lead by an expert to hear about all the wildlife existing in the mangroves. The trail takes you on an hour and a half walk through the mangroves and dune forest, spread out wild and untouched. Walk over the lagoon onto the beach towards the lagoon mouth where there are remains of a Stone Age seashell midden, the presence of charcoal and burnt stone show signs of human origin. A brisk morning walk at low tide will display the vast wildlife and nature experience in the dune forest.
Ushaka Marine World promises unlimited fun for any ocean life enthusiast. It is colorful and bold, scary and imaginative, exotic, and calm. Water soothes and the creatures living in the ocean move with grace. Riveting live shows with penguins, dolphins, and playful sea creatures. During the lockdown, the conservation and animal care is active due to extra time and attention available to focus on animal care and research. The marine world gives detailed attention to frail species like turtles and sharks. Sharks due to media have become the villains of the ocean, hours of work, and filming new productions remains to change the public perception. The aquarium shows the fragility of our oceans with many stories and educational reading material to understand more of our vast oceans and ocean life. The aquarium might be closed at the moment but keep a lookout for opening times, the lockdown changes times and schedules weekly.
When you book into the North Star Micro Hotel, ask us for advice to plan your day trip. The weather is perfect. Winter days are less humid, ideal for an active day out to catch much-needed vitamin sea.