Earlier this month I was strapped into my airplane seat on flight MN701, about to take off. I was Durban bound with kulula.
Keenan and I had been invited to experience kulula’s awesome Romance #madeeasy package, which includes flights to Durban, two nights accommodation at Zimbali Lodge and car hire.
Keenan had to work on Friday, so his flight was a little later than mine.
My flight was right on time and within 90 minutes we were coming in to land, flying low over the lush hills of Natal. Looking down at the intense green, I was reminded why growing up, my family, along with thousands of other GP number-plated families, flock to the shores of Natal every summer holiday. The warm water, hot and humid climate and wild green foliage do something special for the soul.
As I stepped off the plane, the smell of holidays, rich soil and mangoes hit me. But I may have been imagining it.
Arriving at Zimbali Lodge I was greeted with warm smiles and “hello, how are you?” from every member of staff who could catch my eye. Do you know how friendly people are in Durban? I mean, it’s borderline weird! My car was valet parked and my bags were taken up to my room by a porter while I was free to freshen up with a cold towel and stare at the view of the Indian Ocean through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the hotel lobby.
Our room overlooked the property all the way to the sea and a bottle of bubbly was waiting on ice. I wrapped up a few last emails and by 3pm I was next to pool with a G&T in hand. Despite being a five star property, there’s nothing pretentious about Zimbali. It’s got that typical laid-back Durban vibe and kids splashed around in the pool while I breathed in the coastal air.
I picked Keenan up just after 7pm and we headed to the highly-recommended Fiamma Grill in Ballito for dinner. Unfortunately I had succumbed to the allure of room service and ordered a truffle pasta dish at around 5pm so I basically only had room for a starter portion of carpaccio (it was delicious). Keen ordered the fillet steak with no sides (?) and I managed to fit in a couple of bites. If you’re looking for somewhere for dinner in the area, this place is a great option.
I feel like we need to talk about the price of food and drink in Durban, because everything is really well-priced. Starters at Fiamma are around R50 -R60 and mains around R90. A bottle of Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel is listed at only R110 even at the hotel’s poolside bar. I’d say everything is at least one third cheaper than Cape Town, which was a nice surprise.
On Saturday morning we were up early and on Ballito beach before 10am. Oh sweet, warm, Indian Ocean! We spent ages in the sea, basically just ecstatic at being in water warm enough to actually swim in. Later, we had a really delicious lunch at Mo-Zam-Bik. Think piri-piri chicken and Laurentina beer. I am craving it as I type this. The rest of the afternoon was spent just chilling by the hotel pool.
By Sunday we were relaxed but so sad to say goodbye to Durban. I would have loved to spend more time swimming and eating my way along this gorgeous coast. Next time I go I really want to go cycling along the promenade and surf without a wetsuit! And also eat bunny chow on Florida Road.
For more info on the current kulula promos, click here.