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Is Durban Safe for Travel in 2023


Is Durban safe? This is a question many travelers and potential visitors to the South African city of Durban ask. Despite being a popular tourist destination, there are certain areas to avoid in Durban due to higher levels of crime.

With its sunny beaches and fascinating Afro-Indian culture, Durban is becoming a don’t-miss stop in South Africa. Take an hour’s flight from Johannesburg or a two-hour trip from Cape Town to explore this historic city in the KwaZulu-Natal province.

Durban is the third-largest city in South Africa and offers plenty of activities and sightseeing but tourists are interested in The Golden Mile and the beaches along the Indian Ocean.

In this blog post, we will explore six areas to avoid in Durban in order to ensure your safety and have a safe and enjoyable time in the city.

Durban, like any major city in the world, has its share of safety concerns, but with appropriate precautions, it can be safe for residents and visitors.

There are areas of Durban that have higher crime rates, such as the city center and certain townships, so it’s essential to be cautious when traveling in those areas.

Is Durban Safe in General

South Africa Travel Advisory

South Africa – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Is Durban Safe for Solo Female Travelers

Yes, Durban is generally safe for solo female travelers. The city is known for its friendly locals and vibrant culture, and the crime rate is relatively low compared to other cities in South Africa.

However, it is still important to take the usual safety precautions such as avoiding walking alone at night, being aware of your surroundings, and not carrying large amounts of cash.

If you’ve traveled alone in the past, you will have no problem navigating travel solo in South Africa.

It’s simply about understanding the rules and looking out for yourself that bit more than you would in stereotypically safe places like Mexico or Thailand.

As long as you’re safe and sensible, you’re going to have a fantastic time and Durban is the perfect destination for solo travelers.

Solo Travelers Safety Guide:

Durban can be a safe destination for solo female travelers, but it’s important to take some precautions to ensure your safety. Here are some safety tips for solo female travelers in Durban:

  1. Stay in well-lit and populated areas: When traveling alone, it is important to stay in well-lit and populated areas. This will help to reduce the risk of becoming a target for crime.
  2. Avoid walking alone at night: It is best to avoid walking alone at night, especially in unfamiliar areas. If you must walk alone, make sure to stay in well-lit and populated areas.
  3. Be aware of your surroundings: Always be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, it is best to leave the area.
  4. Don’t carry large amounts of cash: Carrying large amounts of cash can make you a target for crime. It is best to use a credit or debit card when possible.
  5. Don’t display expensive items: Avoid displaying expensive items such as jewelry or electronics. This can make you a target for crime.
  6. Don’t accept rides from strangers: It is best to avoid accepting rides from strangers. If you must accept a ride, make sure to get the driver’s name and contact information.
  7. Don’t leave your drink unattended: It is important to never leave your drink unattended. This can leave you vulnerable to being drugged.
  8. Don’t give out personal information: Avoid giving out personal information such as your address or phone number to strangers.
  9. Carry a whistle or pepper spray: Carrying a whistle or pepper spray can help to deter attackers.
  10. Let someone know where you are going: Before traveling alone, make sure to let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. This can help to ensure your safety.

 

Here are some safety tips to follow when in Durban:

  • Avoid walking alone at night, especially in poorly lit or isolated areas.
  • Keep your valuables out of sight and avoid carrying large amounts of cash or wearing expensive jewelry.
  • Use reputable taxis or ride-hailing services, especially at night.
  • Stay in well-lit and secure accommodation, preferably in a safe neighborhood.
  • Be cautious when withdrawing money from ATMs, especially at night or in isolated areas.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts if you feel uncomfortable in a particular area or situation.

Overall, if you take precautions and use common sense, you can enjoy a safe and enjoyable visit to Durban, South Africa. If you’re a U.S. citizen, visit the U.S. Department of State for details on the documents and South Africa Travel Warnings. 

You’ll also find information on currency restrictions and other important topics, such as health, safety, and security.

Safari Parks and Game Reserves near Durban

You don’t need to travel far from Durban, KwaZulu-Natal’s largest city and the country’s busiest port, to get to the bush.

The city, with its urban sprawl and idyllic coastline, is a good springboard to visit some of the province’s many safari parks and game reserves.

Maybe you would like to self-drive to Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, the country’s oldest game reserve, indulge in the 5-star treatment offered in Phinda or marvel at Tembe’s giant elephants. Here are some of my favorite and safest safari parks and game reserves near Durban:

1. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi

Hluhluwe-Imfolozi is one of South Africa’s most popular game reserves and is less than a 3-hour drive from the hustle and bustle of the Durban metropolis.

It was established in the 1890s as a sanctuary for what was then the country’s last remaining population of southern white rhinos.

2. Phinda

Phinda is the most well-known and prestigious private game reserve near Durban. Staying in one of the six luxury lodges is an experience in itself – understated elegance and fine dining is the game. 

Phinda prides itself on the quality of the guiding and a safari here is not only exciting but also hugely educational.

3. uMkhuze Game Reserve

uMkhuze Game Reserve is part of a mosaic of protected areas that comprise iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There is a network of roads to explore, but the thick coastal vegetation doesn’t make for easy wildlife viewing.

4. Ithala

Little-known Ithala is perhaps the most scenic of all the game reserves near Durban. Although not a Big 5 destination (lions are absent), there is a fair amount of wildlife around, including both black and white rhinos.

The mountainous terrain with associated cliff faces and rocky river beds is prime territory for leopards

5. Tembe Elephant Park

Tembe Elephant Park is a Big 5 reserve, but it’s really the elephants that steal the show here. Tembe was established in 1983 to protect what was then the last free-ranging population of elephants in South Africa.

The remaining herd consisted of 150 individuals, many of which carried huge tusks. The gene has obviously survived, as Tembe is still known for its massive tuskers.

Safest Areas in Durban

For those looking for the safest areas in Durban, it’s important to take into account the city’s crime rate. While crime is a concern throughout the region, there are certain areas of Durban that are generally regarded as being safer than others.

 

1. The Bluff 

The Bluff is one of the best places to go in Durban if safety is your top priority. It’s a residential neighborhood located on the southeastern edge of the city and it’s known for having very low crime rates.

 

This area is also home to many popular attractions like the Durban Botanical Gardens and Blue Lagoon Beach.

2. Umhlanga

Umhlanga is another great option if you want to stay safe while enjoying your time in Durban. This coastal town boasts a vibrant atmosphere and some of the best beaches in the city.

 

It’s a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike, so you can rest assured that crime rates here are low.

3. Berea

The Berea area is another safe option for travelers looking to stay safe in Durban. This residential neighborhood is located near the University of KwaZulu-Natal and features several popular attractions such as the Durban Art Gallery and Victoria Street Market.

4. Chatsworth

Chatsworth is another safe neighborhood located in northern Durban. It’s a predominantly Indian neighborhood and it has seen major economic development in recent years. Crime rates in Chatsworth are relatively low, making it an ideal choice for travelers seeking safety while in Durban.

5. Umlazi

Umlazi is a suburb located just outside of Durban, and it has become a popular spot for travelers in recent years due to its low crime rate and close proximity to the beach. It’s also home to many popular tourist attractions like the Umfolozi River Reserve and Umlazi World Heritage Site.

6. KwaMashu

KwaMashu is another suburb located near Durban and it’s known for being one of the safest neighborhoods in the city. This area features a vibrant nightlife scene and some of the best restaurants in the city.

 

Crime rates here remain relatively low, so it’s an ideal choice if safety is your main concern.

IS DURBAN SAFE

Do U.S. Citizens Need Visas

While U.S. citizens visiting Durban for tourism purposes do not need a visa for any stays shorter than ninety days, along with many other countries, some nationals do need a visa to enter South Africa.

Make sure your passports are valid for at least 30 days past your planned date of return from South Africa.

If you are not sure about your visa status, visit www.doyouneedvisa.com which will let you know whether or not you need a visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.

Cities in South Africa that are best avoided

South Africa has the dubious distinction of having five of its cities ranked among the ten most dangerous cities in the world, according to recent Numbeo data on resident experiences. These cities are:

  • Pretoria – a northern city that is one of the country’s three capitals, with a crime index of 81.78 and a safety index of 18.22, making it the second most dangerous city in the world after Caracas in Venezuela. Pretoria Central and Sunnyside are two of the worst areas for crime.
  • Pietermaritzburg – the city in the KwaZulu-Natal province ranked as the third most dangerous city. The Plessislaer precinct is the worst for crime.
  • Durban – the largest city in KwaZulu-Natal, with a high murder rate and 5th on the Numbeo study. Durban Central has recorded over 13,000 crimes in 2020.
  • Johannesburg – South Africa’s largest city, ranked 6th on the Numbeo study. Similar to Cape Town, the city has nice areas with high security but the neighborhoods around the city center have been plagued with violent crime.
  • Port Elizabeth – the largest city on the Eastern Cape and the 10th most dangerous city according to the data.

Safety and Security in Durban

Crime

Call the police (on 10111 or 112 from a mobile phone) at the first sign of danger. Mobile phone reception is generally good in major towns and cities but can be intermittent in more remote spots.

Crime increases in areas where large crowds gather, so be particularly vigilant if you’re attending sporting or other events that attract large numbers.

Violent crime

South Africa has a high rate of crime, including carjacking, house robbery, rape, and murder. The risk of violent crime to visitors traveling to the main tourist destinations is generally low.

The South African Tourism Police prioritize protecting tourists and are deployed in several towns and cities. However, you should always remain vigilant, as police resourcing can be limited.

The most violent crimes tend to occur in townships on the outskirts of major cities or in isolated areas, but violent crime is not limited to these areas.

Violent crimes, including rape, sexual assault, and robbery, can take place anywhere, including in public areas such as popular tourist spots and transport hubs.

Try to travel with a friend, or ensure that a friend or responsible person is aware of your itinerary.

Fraud and Scams in Durban

British nationals are increasingly targeted by scam artists. Scams can pose a physical danger and financial risk to victims. Scams come in many forms including romance and friendship, business ventures, and promises of employment opportunities or visa facilitation.

There is a high incidence of credit card fraud, fraud involving ATMs, and ‘card skimming’. Hide your PIN when withdrawing money from an ATM or making a card payment.

Be aware of potential fraudsters, for example, strangers offering to “help” when your card doesn’t work; or who try to lure you to an ATM.

Do not change large sums of money in busy public areas. Try to use ATMs in banks or secure shopping malls and be discreet when making withdrawals.

Protect documents containing details of credit cards or bank accounts and do not give personal or financial account information details to anyone.

Travel Advisory Levels

Information for Vaccinated Travelers

The CDC’s latest guidance on international travel for vaccinated people can be found here.

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

Critical Infrastructure in Durban

The South African Government has declared a state of disaster following ongoing power shortages nationwide. The national energy provider, Eskom, regularly implements scheduled power outages, known as load shedding.

Load shedding can result in areas being without electricity for numerous hours a day. In recent months, the frequency and length of such outages have increased.

These outages can affect private accommodations, shops, banks and ATMs, public lighting, traffic lights, security systems as well as some petrol stations.

Other aspects of critical infrastructure, including water provision and telecommunications, can also experience unpredictable outages due to periods of severe load shedding.

You should prepare in advance for prolonged power outages by following these tips:

  • Memorise or record important emergency contact numbers and carry a notepad and pen.
  • Have an emergency communication plan. Carry a power bank with additional charging cables for any electronic devices you rely on.
  • Carry portable lighting options with you i.e., torch, head torch, camping lights.
  • Ensure you have enough medicine and first-aid supplies for you and those you are traveling with.
  • Identify safe areas close by in case you need help, such as hotels, hospitals, and police stations that may have power.

Water restrictions may be applied within dry areas when water levels are critically low. These restrictions can include limiting daily water usage or banning of hosepipes and garden sprinklers.

Municipalities occasionally issue advice to avoid drinking tap water if there are concerns over water quality. You should follow the advice and rules of local authorities where restrictions are in place.

Public Transportation in Durban

The following transport options are generally safe and reliable in South Africa:

  • The “Gautrain” high-speed commuter train service runs between Johannesburg, Pretoria, and the OP Tambo International Airport. Walking to and from Gautrain stations after dark is not advisable.
  • The MyCiTi bus service in Cape Town. This bus service operates predominately in the CBD and Atlantic Seaboard and generally experiences less crime. Do not travel into townships by MyCiTi bus; there have been violent attacks on MyCiTi buses in Khayelitsha.
  • Airport shuttle buses through internationally recognized hotels.
  • Internationally recognized ride-hailing apps, where bookings are confirmed through the App only.

You’re advised not to use mini-bus taxis, Metrorail train services, or long-distance public train and coach services.

These services can be unreliable and there have been reports of criminal activity including theft of infrastructure and violence toward vehicles and passengers.

Top 5 Durban Beaches

Durban’s beaches rest along a part of golden sand known as the Golden Mile. Endowed with warm water, strong waves as well as apparently limitless extends of sandy beaches, you’ll soon realize why Durban (eThekwini) is everyone’s favorite beachfront playground.

Durban’s beaches provide public amenities, protecting shark nets, beacons to point out safe swimming, as well as lifeguards available for the whole day.

Below is the list of Durban’s 5 most famous beaches:

  1. North Beach
  2. Addington Beach
  3. Umhlanga Rocks beach
  4. Bay of Plenty
  5. South Beach

Water Safety in Durban

Beach conditions and local safety provisions vary and every year significant numbers of people drown due to the strong sea currents.

On beaches where there are no equipment or warning signs, you can speak to local people who are familiar with the conditions. If in doubt, do not enter the water.

On busier tourist beaches, follow instructions from lifeguards and any warnings that may be displayed. You can learn more about rip currents on the National Sea Rescue Institute website. In case of emergency call 112 or NSRI emergency line at +27 87 094 9774.

You can save the following contact numbers before you travel.

All emergencies from mobile cell phones 112
South African Police Service 10111
Ambulance & Fire 10177
National Sea and Rescue Institute (NSRI) +27 87 094 9774 or 112
Search and Rescue 10177 or 10111

Local Laws and Customs in South Africa

Always carry a copy of your passport data page and the page containing your visitor’s permit or residence permit for South Africa. South African officials may request identification and proof of legal residence at any time.

It’s safer to keep your passport in a hotel safe or another secure location rather than carry it on your person unless you need it for official identification purposes.

The use of cannabis for private consumption was legalized in 2018. While private use is legal, it is illegal to purchase or sell cannabis and its use in public remains prohibited.

Public and private use of Cannabidiol oils (CBD oils) is also legalized. The use, sale, and purchase of other drugs is an offense.

Entry requirements to South Africa

You can travel to South Africa for any purpose for up to 90 days without a visa. You should check the expiry date of your visa or entry stamp and make sure you do not overstay.

You may need to complete a health form to enter South Africa.

See the Visas and Passport validity sections for more information.

South Africa has lifted its coronavirus travel restrictions. You no longer need to present proof of vaccination status or a PCR test.

Check your passport and travel documents before you travel

Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Passport validity

If you are visiting South Africa, your passport should be valid for 6 months from the date you arrive.

Your passport should be valid for at least 30 days beyond your intended date of exit from South Africa, in line with South African immigration regulations.

However, some immigration officials still request that a passport should have at least 6 months of validity on the date of entry to South Africa.

To avoid problems at the airport on arrival, you’re advised to ensure your passport is valid for six months.

Your passport should have at least two blank pages when you arrive in South Africa.

Money in Durban

There are limits on the amount of currency you can bring into South Africa. For cash in South African Rand (ZAR), the limit is 25,000ZAR.

For combinations of cash in other currencies, the limit is US$10,000 (or equivalent). You should declare any amount higher than this on entry to South Africa.

What is the best time to visit Durban?

The best time to visit Durban is during the winter, from April to September. This is because the weather is dry and sunny and the temperatures are pleasant.

Durban is bustling with life and activities during this period, with the International Film Festival in July and the Good Food and Wine Show.

On the other hand, Durban has a tropical climate which is pretty hot and humid during the summer season from October to February. The city also witnesses rainfall during this period.

Things to Do in Durban?

Durban is a coastal city in South Africa that is known for its beautiful beaches, cultural attractions, and outdoor activities.

Here are some things to do in Durban:

  1. Visit uShaka Marine World: This is a popular attraction that features an aquarium, water park, and animal shows.
  2. Walk along the Golden Mile: This is a long stretch of beach that is perfect for walking or jogging.
  3. Explore the Durban Botanic Gardens: This is the oldest surviving botanic garden in Africa and features a wide variety of plants and trees.
  4. Visit the Moses Mabhida Stadium: This iconic stadium is a must-see for sports fans and offers great views of the city.
  5. Learn about Zulu culture at the PheZulu Safari Park: This park offers visitors the chance to learn about Zulu culture and history, as well as see animals like crocodiles and snakes.
  6. Go on a safari: Durban is located close to several game reserves, including Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, where you can see wildlife like lions, elephants, and rhinos.
  7. Visit the Durban Art Gallery: This gallery features a collection of contemporary South African art and is a great place to learn about the country’s art scene.
  8. Take a rickshaw ride: These brightly decorated carts are a unique way to see the city and learn about its history.
  9. Go surfing: Durban is known for its great surf spots, so rent a board and hit the waves!
  10. Explore the Valley of a Thousand Hills: This beautiful area is home to traditional Zulu villages and offers stunning views of the surrounding hills and valleys.

Cape Town vs Durban

Cape Town and Durban are both popular tourist destinations in South Africa, but they offer different experiences.

Cape Town is known for its stunning natural beauty, with iconic landmarks such as Table Mountain, the Cape of Good Hope, and the beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay.

The city also has a rich history and culture, with attractions such as the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Robben Island, and the colorful Bo-Kaap neighborhood. Cape Town is also known for its vibrant nightlife, with a variety of bars, clubs, and restaurants.

Durban, on the other hand, is known for its warm weather, golden beaches, and laid-back lifestyle. It has a rich cultural heritage, with a large Indian population and a thriving street food scene.

Durban is also a gateway to other popular attractions in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, such as the Drakensberg Mountains and the game reserves of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi and Phinda.

In terms of safety, both cities have their share of safety concerns, and it is important to take precautions to ensure your safety. However, Cape Town has a higher crime rate than Durban, particularly in certain areas.

Ultimately, the choice between Cape Town and Durban will depend on your personal preferences and what you are looking for in a holiday destination.

If you are looking for natural beauty, cultural attractions, and lively nightlife, Cape Town may be the better choice.

If you prefer a more relaxed, beach-oriented holiday with a strong Indian influence, Durban may be the better choice.

is durban safe

Johannesburg vs. Durban

Johannesburg and Durban are two very different cities in South Africa, each with its own unique attractions and characteristics.

Johannesburg, also known as Joburg, is the largest city in South Africa and the economic hub of the country. It is known for its vibrant nightlife, cultural diversity, and historical landmarks such as the Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill.

Johannesburg is also located close to several popular attractions, including the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site and the game reserves of the Pilanesberg and Madikwe.

Durban, on the other hand, is a coastal city located on the east coast of South Africa. It is known for its warm weather, beautiful beaches, and laid-back lifestyle.

Durban is also home to a large Indian population, which has contributed to its unique cuisine and cultural offerings.

The city is located close to several popular attractions, including the Drakensberg Mountains and the game reserves of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi and Phinda.

In terms of safety, both Johannesburg and Durban have their share of safety concerns, and it is important to take precautions to ensure your safety.

However, Johannesburg has a higher crime rate than Durban, particularly in certain areas.

Ultimately, the choice between Johannesburg and Durban will depend on your personal preferences and what you are looking for in a holiday destination.

If you are interested in cultural attractions, historical landmarks, and nightlife, Johannesburg may be the better choice.

If you prefer a more relaxed, beach-oriented holiday with a strong Indian influence, Durban may be the better choice.

Is Johannesburg Safe

South Africa Travel Insurance 

I think most people have questions about where to go for medical care in an emergency. First, I should note that if you’re on spring break, chances are slim that you’ll be needing emergency care.

Still, better safe than sorry! The good news is that some of the most beautiful views in South Africa—along with games drives, beautiful sunsets, wineries, and a great place to vacation for the whole family.

I can’t say this enough but please get insurance when traveling to South Africa! Even if you are only going on a short trip, you should always travel with insurance.

Have fun while visiting South Africa,  but take it from someone who has racked up thousands of bucks on an insurance claim before, you need it.

Make sure to get your insurance before you head off on an adventure!  I highly recommend Travelex Insurance.

Conclusion of Is Durban Safe:

As I stated earlier Durban, like any other city, has its share of safety concerns, and it is important to take precautions to ensure your safety.

While you are visiting Durban don’t buy drugs, venture off into areas that are unsafe, and practice the safety precautions you would while traveling to any other destination.

Be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for any suspicious activity or individuals and keep your valuables out of sight, particularly when in crowded areas or using public transportation and you will be fine.


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If you’re traveling to Durban are you worried about your safety? I would love to hear your thoughts so leave me a comment on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.

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