Durban earned its place in history in the 1890s, when a young Mohandas Gandhi cut his teeth defending Indian immigrants from discrimination under the British government. Today it's a salty blend of working port and beach playground, and enjoys an idyllic climate: temperatures veer mildly between 10-28 degrees, giving it the second most congenial climate in the world after Hawaii.
Domestic tourists flock to Durban for the glittering beaches that stretch north and south along the coast, but Durban's most interesting sightseeing comes in the form of its markets. The Muti Market showcases traditional African medicine. Here you can consult a Sangoma (a healer who uses ancestral wisdom to perform holistic healing) or a traditional herbalist, and see all manner of weird and wonderful botanical medicines being prepared for sale. At the Victoria Market you'll find traders from Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and the Konkan selling saris, incense and pirated Bollywood CDs, as well as a bustling fish market downstairs.
This is the perfect place to try bunny chow, Durban's distinctive contribution to the culinary arts: take a loaf of white bread, carve out the fluffy insides, fill with mutton or chicken or vegetable curry, and put the scooped out bits back on top like a lid. The story goes that bunny chow was invented to get around Apartheid laws that excluded Indians from going to certain shops and cafés: the dish could be served secretively through the back window, and as long as you didn't sniff too closely, it could pass for a perfectly innocent loaf!
Sunny, welcoming and rich in stories, Durban makes for a perfect gateway to journeys along the wild coastline of KwaZulu-Natal, to the tribal villages of Zululand, and to treks in the rugged Drakensberg range.