5 Hidden gems in Durban

Posted on 21 August 2023 By Tsoku Maela

Sometimes the most remarkable treasures lie right within your reach, particularly if you’re a resident of Durban. For those planning a visit to this coastal city, there’s a wealth of attractions beyond the stunning beaches that await your exploration. Here, we present five captivating destinations that aren’t too far off the beaten path.

KwaZulu Natal South Africa. Picture:  Getty Images

Coedmore Castle

It may surprise you, but Durban boasts its very own castle—Coedmore Castle. Nestled within the heart of the Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve, this elegant stone manor is enveloped by towering Yellowwood trees. Constructed by Dering Stainbank in 1885 as a family residence, the castle remains a cherished piece of South African history. Located just south of Durban’s city centre, Coedmore Castle has remained in the Stainbank family for four generations. Inside, you’ll find original 19th-century furniture, ancestral portraits, and antique silverware. While it was donated to the state by Kenneth Stainbank, the family currently oversees its management. Today, the castle is open to the public for guided tours, school trips, and the rental of its grounds for intimate weddings, events, and photography.

Coedmore Castle is nestled within the stunning Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve, boasting various mountain bike trails, hiking paths, excellent birdwatching opportunities, and regular guided walks. This hidden gem is a must-visit spot for those seeking an authentic Durban experience. Prior booking is essential for castle tours. For contact details, click here.

Emalangeni Hill

Durban residents often catch glimpses or hear tales of spots where they can witness the rare sight of snow-capped Drakensberg mountains and the nearby ocean simultaneously. Emalangeni Hill, located near Durban Green Corridor’s Isithumba Adventure Centre, is surprisingly accessible—even reachable by sedan and less than a half-hour drive from Botha’s Hill. The area treats visitors to breathtaking scenery within the Valley of a Thousand Hills. The journey to the hill’s summit takes you through captivating rural landscapes, past welcoming taverns, deep gorges, cascading rapids along the uMngeni River, and exceptional birdwatching opportunities. Along the ascent, you’ll also enjoy sweeping views of Nagle Dam, Inanda Dam, and the confluence of the Duzi and uMngeni rivers. Adventurous souls can even attempt a hair-raising 4×4 descent down one side of the hill, leading to the Mfula Store area. Without a doubt, a visit to Emalangeni Hill offers a genuine introduction to the Valley of a Thousand Hills’ true allure.

Durban’s Rasta Caves

The Mzinyathi Gorge is home to a unique cultural enclave—the “Rasta Caves.” Within these caves reside a community of Rastafarians, many of whom maintain regular jobs and return to the caves for weekend worship. Accessing the caves requires navigating a hidden path, and within the caves, you’ll find small, well-constructed stone chambers made from natural rock. A guided visit is essential and arranged in advance, offering a captivating opportunity to delve into the intriguing culture and history of this site. To organize a guided experience to the Rastafarian Caves, reach out to the Durban Green Corridor.

Mfula Store

Deep within the Valley of a Thousand Hills, approximately a 30-minute drive from Hillcrest lies a truly enchanting spot—Mfula Store. This historic trading store remains operational and offers wonderful overnight lodging amidst a lush, forested valley that seems worlds away. Just a short distance from Mfula Store, where the uMngeni and Mqeku rivers converge, you’ll discover one of the most tranquil and scenic picnic sites in KwaZulu-Natal. This community-managed area is ideal for a leisurely day out, allowing you to relax and savor the riverside surroundings. The picnic spot is adorned with captivating rock formations, including a natural water slide formed by the river. Additionally, Mfula Store is conveniently located near the iSithumba Adventure Centre, providing opportunities for mountain bike rentals and immersion in the area’s unique culture.

Beachwood Mangroves

Nestled near the uMngeni Mouth, adjacent to the Durban Green Corridor GreenHub, you’ll find the captivating Beachwood Mangroves. Spanning 76 hectares, this reserve is a mere five-minute drive from the city center. The area is recognized as a National Monument and showcases rare mangrove swamp forests and essential estuarine habitats near the Umgeni River’s mouth. A charming boardwalk winds through the mangrove forest, granting visitors glimpses of crabs and other mangrove inhabitants as they go about their daily activities. This haven offers a welcome escape from the urban bustle, and activities such as guided walks and canoeing can be organized through the Durban Green Corridor GreenHub.


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ALSO READ: Top 10 must-experience activities in Hartbeespoort


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