Going ashore in Durban

Durban

Located on the East Coast of South Africa and belonging to the KwaZulu – Natal Province, Durban is one of the country’s leading seaports and a very popular summer destinations. Blessed with a long and mild summer, Durban attracts mostly South African tourists who are coming here for the long white beaches and for a wide range of sport and fun activities connected with them.

Unfortunately, not so many foreigners choose Durban as a holiday destination because the city is known to be one of the most dangerous places in the country, with a high criminality rate – targeting especially the white people.

This warning was given to us the minute we arrived in the port – first by the pilot who brought the ship in, then by the agent. Everybody was advised to be cautious when going out, to keep all precious things under constant surveillance – especially the documents – not to engage in any contradictory discussions with the locals (in the restaurants, in the shops or anywhere around)  and to avoid walking the streets at night time. Extra vigilance was required from the white members of our crew and officers, as a long lasting hatred is known to exist between the blacks and the whites in this country which sometimes turn into real street fights, with white people becoming victims, mostly for no reason at all.

I am a huge admirer of Mahatma Gandhi and I do not agree with violence as a way of showing a point or of drawing attention towards any problems the local black community might have. I know Gandhi wouldn’t agree with violence as a response to anything, but probably the concept of passive resistance he was advocating during his 20 years in South Africa can no longer apply today. People get more and more violent nowadays – regardless the colour of their skin – and during this ‘war’ only the innocent ones are to suffer.

With all these warnings in mind, I was quite excited about my arrival to Durban and willing to take the risks in order to experience the South African thrill. I had visited more dangerous places before – for example, Karachi in Pakistan – and I just hoped to find a driver who would take us around the city of Durban and allow us to have a stroll along the beach. It was my first ever arrival on South African soil and I was looking forward to adding a new country on my visiting list.

This had been my plan before arriving, but it was cancelled the minute Immigration came on board and denied me the shore leave permit, due to a visa issue. A slight hope of receiving the permit was offered instead, if we were willing to talk to a certain lady – who was some kind of a boss in the Immigration office and would probably grant me the permit if … if …

I certainly don’t like these things and would never accept to take advantage of my ‘privileged’ position on board – as the captain’s wife – and be offered ‘escape’ solutions like those offered to me in the port of Chennai (India) or Pusan (South Korea). I refused them then and I refused them now as well. One thing I know, for sure. Next time I come to South Africa, my passport will hold a valid visa – if there will be time to apply for one – and I will be as excited as now to explore the city, but with all legal papers on hand.

Our port stay in Durban lasted for seven days and it was the longest port stay ever for both me and my husband. We didn’t go out, but most of our crew’s members and officers did it, despite the rainy weather which stayed with us almost the whole period. So, after talking with the guys about their visit and seeing the photos they took while in town, I decided to write everything down and share it with whoever might be interested. Thank you, guys, for all the tips and infos you gave me and for the photos, as well.

Going out of the port

*Walking inside the terminal is not allowed, although walking on pier – close to your vessel – is permitted with the obligation of wearing the personal protective equipment – helmet and high visibility vest.

*In order to reach the first exit gate, you will need to rely on the shuttle bus service – which can be called upon. In less than ten minutes, you arrive at the first gate from where you have to pick up a taxi to take you to the city. The taxi driver will first take you to the second gate, to the Immigration Office where your passport will be stamped, then he will take you to the city for no more than 20$.

*If you intend to go out more than one time during your stay, you will have to stamp your passport only once upon exit and only once upon returning, in your last day. You must not stamp your passport everyday, but make sure that you stamped your passport for entering the port at least 5-6 hours before your vessel is leaving the port.

*If you visit only the Seaman’s Mission, you do not need to go to the Immigration Office to stamp your passport.

*Places of interest:

Open Market

Durban

uShaka Marine World

Durban

Durban

Waterfront

Durban

 

Recommend:

*John Dory’s Fish and grill Restaurant

Durban

 

 

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