Splash out at uShaka – Durban’s ‘kitsch’ and cool aquarium

Helen Crooks

WE may have gone to Durban, the place of many a memorable holiday when we lived in Gauteng, mainly to watch the Liverpool Legends game, but with so much travelling involved we allowed ourselves an extra day to explore new developments in the city.

Staying, as we did, near Florida Road, was certainly a good choice. It’s a little like Cape Town’s Long Street with lots of restaurants (with affordable prices and varied, really good food) and a great vibe.

It’s also an easy, eye-opening drive to u-Shaka Marine World, eye opening in that Point, a one-time favourite destination is now Durban’s very own Hillbrow.

We were warned that Point is the hang-out of Nigerian drug dealers, who ply their trade pretty openly and think nothing of snatching a cellphone from your hand, were you to be foolish enough to use one while in the area.

Forewarned is forearmed, so having safely negotiated Point from our base in Morningside, it has to be said that the drive is really worth it. We had expected something along the lines of Cape Town’s Two Oceans, but uShaka is very, very different.

First off, there are 70 curio shops with interesting goods at affordable prices and a whole host of places to eat, including a branch of Piatta (our favourite Florida Road restaurant) and the Moyo Pier bar, a restaurant which floats above the Indian Ocean.

At R185 for adults and R135 for kids, it may seem a little pricey, but that gets you access to 17 water slides including Africa’s highest water slide, dolphin, seal and penguin shows plus access to the phantom ship which houses Durban’s unusual aquarium well worth visiting.

There’s a whole host of viewing opportunities, including watching people snorkelling in some of the tanks, and the chance to get a glimpse of the brindle bass, a huge fish which is as endangered as the rhino. There’s sharks, turtles, sea horses, you name it uShaka has it – and if you don’t want to spend R189, you can do the aquarium, the seals, the dolphins and the penguins for R139.

There’s also lots of snippets to absorb, like the fish which change sex at sea: the male is the leader of the pack, if you will. If he is caught by a fisherman, a female will change her sex to take his place.

Overall, uShaka may be a little kitsch in appearance but if you ever find yourself in Durban it is well worthwhile setting aside a complete day to explore this addition to all the usual Durban attractions.

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