Oooooh! Shaka

Trip Start Jun 15, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Flag of South Africa  , KwaZulu-Natal,
Friday, May 11, 2012

When we were in Perth we heard a few people describing Perth as 'the Durban of Australia,' not just because the city is full of South Africans but because of the laid back beach lifestyle, obsession with surfing and the overall feel of the city. 

 We really could see what they meant on visiting Durban as quite a few things reminded us of the beaches around Perth. Although I'm afraid to say that the Perth ones were significantly more beautiful... we've never seen such clean, white sandy beaches as we did in Perth. 
Durban has some significance to me because it's where my Dad and his siblings grew up and where my parents met at the University of Natal. My Gran took us on a little pilgrimage of Durban where we saw the house my dad grew up in, the school he went to, the Natal university and even my Gran's primary school. She told us how much things had changed in the city in over 50 years and  how much more industrial it has become, particularly down by the sea. The Durban Port is huge and due to grow as they are building a new harbour where the old airport was. All in all it's not the same city she remembers, plus to make matters worse their old house hasn't been looked after particularly well which didn't go down well with her at all.
After our trip down memory lane we headed down for the beach and U-Shaka marine park. U-Shaka is a bit like a Disney World water park with huge slides, river rapids, shops, restaurants and the Southern hemisphere's largest aquarium housed inside an enormous ship. They also have Dolphin and seal shows and penguin feeding so you can see their marine animals performing.
We watched them feed the penguins and then checked out the aquarium which was very impressive with huge glass walls to see all the marine life that they have there. The Dolphin show showcased eight dolphins and was done in a similar style to Seaworld in Orlando but on a lower budget. It was amazing to see four of the huge bottle-nosed dolphins jumping in unison to the music and doing their tricks. They are amazingly intelligent and really beautiful animals, and these ones were way bigger than the ones we swam with in New Zealand
From Durban we then spent the entire day on the BazBus, leaving Durban at 7am and arriving into Port Elizabeth at 10pm. The journey was nowhere near as bad as we expected as there was lots to see along the way. Our driver told us all about Durban and what we could have done there (bit late as we were leaving) and then headed towards the Transkei and the Wild coast. He warned us to expect anything and everything in the Transkei because he has been doing this job for over 20 years and no two journeys are the same and you never know what you might see along the way. 
The Transkei used to be an independent country of sorts until Nelson Mandela became president in 1994 and his homeland became another province of South Africa. The Transkei is really beautiful but ruined a bit with the number of run down properties dotted all over the hills. It used to be an area of very successful farming but hasn't been able to keep it up as many of the new farmers don't work the land as successfully as their predecessors. 

 You could tell you were in Mandela land as everything there is named after the figure-heads of the ANC... Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Oliver Tambo. Schools, roads, buildings, university's, you name it! We even got to go by Nelson Mandela's village where he grew up and we saw his Transkei house. Weirdly within that complex, Nelson had an exact replica built of the house where he was held under house arrest after he was moved from Robben Island. 

 Apparently he said it was the best house he had ever lived in and he was very happy there, so wanted a replica to live in now.

 So, yeah it was actually a nice journey and now we make our way from the Eastern cape to the western cape where we will be staying in Knysna and exploring South Africa's stunning garden route.
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