Durban’s focus is a lot more green than one thinks and finding sustainable projects, green spaces, heritage sites and businesses with an eco core in Durban is not difficult.
The city’s major green focus in the build up to the Soccer World Cup 2010, followed by COP17 (the United Nations Climate Change Conference hosted in Durban in November and December 2011), resulted in a green legacy that has done anything but fade from the city’s agenda.
The good news, for those after a more responsible holiday when in the city of beaches, there is plenty to find and do, beginning with these 9 sustainable sites in the city (we’ve included a bullet point list of even more sites to visit, below).
Green Durban – 9 Sustainable Sites In The City…
A legacy of 2010, and a project still going strong, this NGO promotes the development of informal trading in Durban. Started by Richard Dobson and Patrick Ndlovu in 2008 (they worked together on the Warwick Junction Urban Renewal Project), Asiye eTafuleni’s (Zulu phrase meaning: ‘let’s go to the table’) main aim is making sure informal traders are considered in urban planning.
Their projects include the Markets of Warwick Tours, the Inner-city cardboard recycling project and a study on street furniture in Warwick Junction: the trestle table. The project does school tours, internships and project work. Contact them on +27 (0)31 309-3880.
DALA CITY WALKS
Explore Durban’s urban environment on foot with dala, who facilitate a window into the art, architecture, cultural expression and language of Durban. There is no better way to acquaint yourself with a city than by walking its streets. Really worth doing. Contact Doung at firstname.lastname@example.org. Minimum number of people on a walk is seven.
Durban’s International Convention Centre, besides hosting various international conferences, is also flawlessly green, with a string of ISO certifications behind its name, some of which are for the environment (others for safety and quality). Interesting greening projects, like using ice via the air conditioning unit to cool the building and save power, the disposal of food waste, which is processed or ground and then disposed of in the sewer system, the recycling of any waste and an emphasis on employee well being (work-life balance). Find the centre at 45 Bram Fischer Road.
I HEART MARKET
This is my all-time favourite market in Durban. It’s classy, vibey, and filled with original ideas when it comes to handmade, local, and vintage. The I Heart Market is a monthly market (first Saturday of every month 9h00 to 14h00) in the grounds of the Moses Mabhida Stadium in the heart of the city (no pun intended) and is both popular and busy (parking can be a problem, so get there early).
Find anything from clothing to handbags, jewellery, soaps, babies clothing and fine food stalls selling wonderful takeaways for lunch. Most of the market is positioned within large gazebos, which provide good shade from the sun.
PIGEON VALLEY PARK
Beautiful Pigeon Valley Nature Reserve perched on the rise of Glenwood is another relatively unknown and unexplored green space of Durban. This may have a lot to do with the fact that its gate on Princess Alice Avenue looks very closed (those who frequent the forest know to enter using the pedestrian gate, open between 07h30 and 16h00, just opposite Rhodes Avenue).
Right in the heart of a residential area one doesn’t expect this 10 hectare green space, but it is home to the rare indigenous Natal elm (walk the Natal Elm trail) and the spotted thrush. The park has no formal parking, so you will need to park on the street.
SRI SRI RADHA RADHANATH TEMPLE OF UNDERSTANDING
This ornate temple lies in Chatsworth, about twenty minutes’ outside Durban. Its opulence is awe inspiring. Designed with the lotus flower in mind, this is said to be the largest Hare Krishna temple in Africa. The front desk is usually manned by devotees, happy to explain to you the origins of the temple and their philosophy.
The temple restaurant, below the temple, serves incredible vegetarian dishes and is a major attraction for visitors. The impromptu menus, limited décor and reasonable prices are part of the temple’s ethos. The temple also has a Go Green campaign.
THE GREEN HUB
A legacy of one of the greening projects from 2010, the Green Hub is the head office of The Durban Green Corridor, a project that aims to ‘bring local people back in touch with nature through eco-tourism and adventure sports’ – canoeing, hiking, mountain biking, bird watching and cultural tours.
Fitted with rainwater harvesting tanks, solar panels and natural lighting and ventilation, the building in which the Green Hub operates is also green.
But its major allure is the young and enthusiastic team who work here and are keen to book you on any one of their tours or activities. Find the Green Hub just off Athlone Drive at Blue Lagoon. Open 7 days a week.
URBAN MANAGEMENT ZONE’S ROOFTOP GARDEN
A legacy project of COP17 we didn’t expect to find this rooftop garden flourishing, but it is more established now than when the project began in 2011.
The garden, on Monty Naicker Road, directly across from the ICC (it used to be called Priority Zone), is a wonderful mix of succulents, landscaped gardens, food gardens, vegetable and herb tunnels and recycled products – shoes, tyres, plastic containers – in which one finds yet more plants.
The project has a vermi-culture worm farm, rainwater harvesting, food tunnels, and a solar powered geyser. Contact Wendy Gibson-Taylor or Sylvia Burger for tours of the rooftop on +27 (0)31 332-0441. They welcome schools or gardening groups.
UMHLANGA LAGOON NATURE RESERVE
This is a delightful discovery. In the heart of Umhlanga’s hotel strip is a green lung about which few people seem to know. Just one of many nature reserves and parks in and around Durban, Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve lies just beyond Breakers Hotel on Lagoon Drive (drive to the end of the road, and turn right into a parking area where you can leave your car). The lagoon around which the reserve revolves is the mouth of the Ohlanga River.
Within its 26 hectares you will find lagoon, wetland, sandy shore and dune forest.
Most people use it as a means to access a more private beach for picnics, but the birding opportunities and the chance to glimpse the sea hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus), a gorgeous flower that flowers yellow in the morning and then turns peachy red before falling on the same day (quite incredible) in the forest, is a real treat. Put aside a good couple of hours as there is more to this reserve than meets the eye.
Other green sites to visit in Durban include:
- BAT Centre
- Jummah Masjid Mosque
- Krantzkloof Nature Reserve
- Giba Gorge Nature Reserve
- Ohlange Institute
- Shongweni Farmers’ and Craft Market
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