Durban’s focus has become greener over recent years, and the city and its outskirts now boast a plethora of sustainable projects, businesses, heritage sites and green spaces for locals and visitors to explore.
A legacy of 2010, and a project still going strong, this NGO, Asiye eTafuleni, promotes the development of informal trading in Durban. 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. Details: 031 309 3880.
Westville Country Club Eco Trails
A piece of paradise in the middle of Westville, WCC Eco Trails has become a popular walking, trail running and Mountain Bike route, with something for all family members. The pristine forest has a diverse selection of fauna and flora, and the removal of alien vegetation has opened up the area for bird life. With partners such as Westville Conservancy and Durban Green Corridor, they are able to continue the ongoing process of alien eradication, maintenance and development of the trails while focusing on conservation and the environment as well as empowerment for the community. Details: 031 266 1391 or [email protected]
Giba Gorge MTB Park
Nestled in a lush green valley alongside the N3 freeway just outside Pinetown lies Giba Gorge MTB Park – a place for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether it is the kids scooting around the BMX track, the avid mountain bikers and trail runners making use of the single track trails, the adrenalin-fuelled downhillers or the families and couples choosing to picnic on the lawn or relaxing in the outdoor restaurant, there is something for everyone of all ages. The park’s location has also largely led to its design as a sustainable environment through low impact eco-practices. Details: 031 769 1419.
I Heart Market
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 from 9am to 2pm) held at The Hay Store on Durban’s up-and-coming Point Waterfront, that serves as a platform for local design, artisans, craft, fashion and food. Details: 083 871 4991.
Pigeon Valley Nature Reserve
Perched on the rise of Glenwood, Pigeon Valley Nature Reserve is another relatively unknown and unexplored green space of Durban. A natural heritage site which boasts an original coastal climax forest in which many of the forest giants, particularly the Natal Elm survive, the reserve is a good birding spot, for rare forest birds in particular, and enjoying a casual weekend stroll through a beautiful space. The Friends of Pigeon Valley – a group that undertake to clear the reserve of alien plants, have a monthly walk at 7.30am on the second Saturday of each month. Details: f[email protected]
The Green Hub
A legacy of one of the greening projects from 2010, the Green Hub (off Athlone Drive at Blue Lagoon) is the head office for The Durban Green Corridor, a project that aims to bring local people in touch with nature through eco-tourism and adventure sports like 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. The venue also boasts the Green Hub Café that serves a mean cup of coffee and a really affordable toasted sandwich. Details: 31 322 6026.
Urban Management Zone’s Rooftop Garden
A legacy project of COP17, Urban Management Zone’s Rooftop Garden, across the road from the ICC at 77 Monty Naicker Street (Old Pine Street), is so worth the visit. Serving as a showpiece for how to grow food without space, it’s flourishing thanks to 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. Details: 031 3228280 or e-mail [email protected]
Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve
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) is a 26-hectare green lung boasting lagoon, wetland, sandy shore and dune forest. Most people use it as a means to access a more private beach for picnics, but the reserve has the remains of the prehistoric shell midden, walking trails that span the lagoon and great birding opportunities. Details: 031 205 1271.
Shongweni Farmers’ and Craft Market
For most stall holders at the Shongweni farmers’ market, organic isn’t a buzzword, but a way of life. Their commitment to their products, the environment, and their pride in the provenance of their wares means there are few better or more convivial places to shop for hormone-free meat and free-range chicken; farm-fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses, cream, milk, butter, olive oils, and home-made pickles, conserves, bread and cakes. Vendors are chatty and generous with their tasting samples, recipes, and advice. Crafts include handcrafted wooden furniture, jewellery, clothes, hats, bags, paintings and water colours by local artists and ornamental metal and stone sculptures from Zimbabwe. Open every Saturday from 6.30am to 12.30am. Details: 031 777 4686