Durban day trip Archives - Tim Brown Tours

Drakensberg tour

Drakensberg tour – 20th July 2015   We began our Drakensberg day tour just outside Durban from my home as I was taking my cousins and wife up the Sani pass into Lesotho. It had been 13 years since I had seen my cousin so I was pretty happy about showing off my beautiful country to them and having my wife come with us as well.   I did the usual covering some of the history of the area of Durban, KwaZulu Natal and South Africa before we arrived in Underberg and changed over vehicles into a 4×4 to go up the Sani pass.   Lesotho is an amazing country with the Drakensberg mountain as its border. In Zulu we call it Ukhahlamba which means the barrier of spears and the word “Drakensberg” means dragons peak!   The view up the Sani pass in the Drakensberg was lovely today as it was a clear day.         Drakensberg tour, View up the Drakensberg Drakensberg tour, View up the Drakensberg                               We had a very lucky day on our way up to Lesotho and in Lesotho itself, we spotted a host of Jackal Buzzards and Pied crows… As well as Dassies(Rock Hyrax), Eland antelope and Reebuck. We even spotted some Ground Woodpeckers.         Drakensberg tour, Ground Wood Pecker Drakensberg tour, Ground Wood Pecker                               The Eland are the Bushmen or San peoples totem animal and these people were the original South Africans that were sadly killed out by every other group of people that are in South African today. The Eland had special powers for the San people and they would use it to communicate with there ancestors.         Drakensberg tour, Eland Drakensberg tour, Eland                                 On route up the Drakensberg on our day tour into Lesotho we came across a small waterfall up Sani Pass called Lovers Cascade. It is believed that here the San people would come to drink the fresh water and which would give them eternal life…         Drakensberg tour, Lovers cascade! Drakensberg tour, Lovers cascade!                                 We then stopped at the South African border post before we continued the 8 kilometers to Sani top the highest pub in Africa and of course the Lesotho border post. We got the passports stamped and I got a picture of my cousins.         Drakensberg tour, My cousins at the South African border post Drakensberg tour, My cousins at the South African border post                               As we made our way into Lesotho we noticed that there was snow in the mountain and some of the hairpin bends were which has waterfalls were frozen over. It was about 9 degrees up the sani pass but mostly due to to cold breeze. It was now time for us to visit the Basotho village and to enter one of the huts to learn more about the Basotho people and taste some lovely home made bread.         Drakensberg tour, Snow in the Drakensberg Drakensberg tour, Snow in the Drakensberg                               After the great hospitality we continued our Drakensberg tour and made our way to the Highest pub in Africa, Sani Top. It was here we had some lunch and enjoyed the great views as well as the warmth of the Pub as it was so cold.           Drakensberg tour, Highest pub in Africa Drakensberg tour, Highest pub in Africa                                 After lunch it was time to begin the journey down the Sani pass and enjoy the spectacular views of the Drakensberg mountain leaving Lesotho behind us.   It was a beautiful decent down the Drakensberg mountain and we arrived back at the bottom at about 15:30.           Drakensberg tour, View down Sani pass in the Drakensberg Drakensberg tour, View down Sani pass in the Drakensberg                               Once we got to the bottom we stretched our legs after the “African Massage” on the bumpy dirt roads and made our way back home after what turned out to be a very long but enjoyable day.   Our Drakensberg day tour ended back at our home where we enjoyed some food and a special drink my cousins brought for us. It was a special day!   If you would like to do this tour into the Drakensberg click the below link:   Drakensberg day tour

Durban day tour

Durban day tour – St Lucia estuary – 17th July 2015     We began our Durban day tour in Durban city. After introductions and a briefing on how the day would run we headed up to St Lucia 2.5 hour away up the North coast of KwaZulu Natal. St Lucia is South Africa’s first world heritage site and is a one of a kind place. At St Lucia you can come across, Hippos, Crocodiles and Zambezi Sharks! Where in the world can you get this combination? This is not all, seasonally Whales frequent the coastline and well as Sea Turtles to lay their eggs on the shoreline. If this wasn’t enough surrounding St Lucia is Isimangaliso wetland park a 30032 Hectare game reserve home to four of the Big five!   If you are ever in the Durban area this is right up there as one of the best places to visit  and can be done in a day tour from Durban with Tim Brown Tours.   Back to the day itself!   After covering a lot of the History of Durban and KwaZulu Natal   we stopped for a coffee and toilet break before the final hour to St Lucia, Isimangaliso Wetland park. After arriving and enjoying some of the warning signs that St Lucia has about Hippos crossing at night we visited the Crocodile center. These amazing creatures have been around for millions of years with a design that is floor-less however we have noted a decline in recent years in their numbers. This is one of the reasons for the Crocodile center to educate people and to get some of these creatures back to the wild.           Durban day tour; Warning sign on St Lucia estuary beach Durban day tour; Warning sign on St Lucia estuary beach                               I took my clients around the center and told them about the Crocodiles, Hippos and a range of other things. It was then time to head down to the Estuary of St Lucia for our 2 hour boat cruise.   We began and there was Hippos every where what was really good on this day tour was that we also saw a lot of Crocodiles which in not a guarantee.           Durban day tour; Big pod of Hippo Durban day tour; Big pod of Hippo                                 It is only due to the fact that boat have traversed these rich waters of St Lucia for many years that we have the privilege of viewing the amazing dangerous animals so close without incident. The Hippos in this sections of 8 kilometers of river are used to the boats and this enables us to enjoy amazing sightings of them. We always have to remember that Hippos are wild animals and kill around about 3000 people per year in Africa!         Durban day tour; Crocodile hiding Durban day tour; Crocodile hiding                               The above picture was a Crocodile we found near the shoreline of St Lucia and it was so well hidden in the long grass! So lovely to see it though! We did see better Crocodiles but this picture just looked amazing.   As we continued up stream we came across a wide range of Bird life which is something else St Lucia estuary has to offer visitors. St Lucia is am idea place for birders to come and spot special birds they do not see every day. We spotted this Goliath Heron fishing near the shoreline, this is the tallest heron in the world!         Durban day tour; Goliath Heron Durban day tour; Goliath Heron                               A bit later on we managed to spot some Hippos on the shore and two of them had a little fight with one another. It was one of those moment you don’t expect so you miss most of it when you get you camera ready but it was amazing!           Durban day tour; Hippos fighting Durban day tour; Hippos fighting                                 As we continued our Durban day tour we spotted more birds and I am sure birders would always be happy to see this one, the Giant Kingfisher! If you are interest we can offer birding tours of KwaZulu Natal from Durban.         Durban day tour; Giant Kingfisher Durban day tour; Giant Kingfisher                               We began our way back to the jetty and on route spotted more Hippos and Crocodiles and had a special sighting of baby Hippos out the water on the shore resting. It is always amazing to see this but even more special when it is babies so I had to also make a little video.       Durban day tour; Baby Hippos out the water Durban day tour; Baby Hippos out the water                               Video: Hippo babies at St Lucia wetlands during our Durban day tour           We almost got to the dock and we spotted some Pink backed Pelicans which we don’t see very often this far up the estuary so it was a real treat. If we had birder on this Durban day tour they would have loved to see these birds. Maybe will have to start a KwaZulu Natal birding tour.         Video: Pink backed Pelicans at St Lucia estuary during our Durban day tour                 After docking the boat at the St Lucia jetty we made our way into St Lucia town to enjoy the vibe of this beach resort at the back end of school holidays. We stopped for some lunch which was great and then made our way to the Estuary board walk where we would walk down onto the estuary beach and enjoy the views as well as seeing Maphelane the second highest vegetated sand dune in the world.           Durban day tour; St Lucia estuary Durban day tour; St Lucia estuary                               We continued with our Durban day tour to St Lucia wetlands and got onto the beach and down to the Indian ocean which was looking amazing on this particular day! With Maphelane in the back ground it made for a beautiful picture. This is a special place for me and I love visiting St Lucia, maybe you should too!   Join the St Lucia day tour from Durban click here!      

Durban midlands tour

We began our KwaZulu Natal midlands tour in the Durban area and made our way up to the Nelson Mandela Capture site near Lions river. It would be here where our historical tour would begin! In 1962 on the 5th of August the late Nelson Mandela was captured on his way from Johannesburg to Durban where he was meeting Chief Albert Luthuli who ironically had won the noble peace prize in 1960! Mandela had been plotting to overthrow the Apartheid government. On the one side of the road the plaque commemorates this day.

Durban city tour

We began our Durban city tour north of Durban in an area which used to be covered with reeds, Umhlanga!(Zulu for reeds). We took the old road into Durban the M4 and crossed over the Umgeni river where the Blue Lagoon is now and made our way towards the NMR(Natal mounted rifles) passing the Suncoast casino and visiting the Moses Mabida stadium. This stadium was built for the 2010 soccer world cup that South Africa hosted and was named after one of the many freedom fighters, fighting against the apartheid government for the liberation of all.

Drakensberg tour

I met my client in Umhlanga north of Durban for his Drakensberg private day tour and it was an early start. I was there at 05:30 for 6am and we then drove to Underberg in the Southern Drakensberg and where the temperatures dropped to 0 Degrees Celsius. It was going to be a cold day!

Durban private tour

I met my client from Scotland at his hotel in Durban for his Durban private tour to Tala game reserve and the Valley of 1000 Hills. On route we chatted about some of the History of Durban and KwaZulu Natal but mostly chatted about general things that we are going through as a country as we would be spending 4 days together.

Tala day tour

We began our day tour in Durban where I met me clients and we made our way up to Tala game reserve 45 minutes outside of Durban city. On route I covered the history of Durban and KwaZulu Natal, as well as answering any questions my clients had for me. We reached Tala game reserve and began with our Safari part of our tour from Durban and as Tala is so highly populated with animals it is really easy to find the animals if you know where to look.

Durban private safari

Durban private safari 20 June 2015     I met my client in Durban where we began what was to be a day where we would mix up two tours, the Hluhluwe day tour and a visit to the cat rehabilitation center.   We left just before 7am and but 09:30 we were at the cat rehabilitation center where we arranged a private tour around the center before the main group at 10:30. We interacted with the four species of Endangered cats and of course the Cheetah was the best as well as the cubs! It is always great on a Safari from Durban to interact with these amazing animals.   Durban private safari; Cheetah Durban private safari; Cheetah                               At this time we left and made our way into Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve to begin our Durban private safari side of the tour. We had immediate luck as we spotted Zebra and Warthog before a quiet period.         Durban private safari; Zebra Durban private safari; Zebra                             We made our way to the Hluhluwe river in the hope of finding Elephants but we only found Nyala and Buffalo which was also great to see so we had now seen the first of the Big 5.         Durban private safari; Herd of Buffalo Durban private safari; Herd of Buffalo                               We continued and found some more Nyala and then looked over the Hluhluwe river where we had a different sighting of 2 Egyptian geese fighting probably over a female!         Video: Durban private safari; Eqyptian geese fighting       After this we continued and managed to find a herd of Elephants they were slowly making their way towards the road and we managed to get two crossing the road. The others just took way too long so we moved on to see what else we could find on our Durban private safari.         Durban private safari; Elephant playing on road Durban private safari; Elephant playing on road                             We managed to get this one bull Elephant dust bathing and playing with a tuft of grass which was great to watch.         Video: Durban private safari; Elephant playing on road           After this amazing sighting we were very lucky again as I spotted a Rhino and Buffalo together! The only trouble for us was it was so thick that we had to settle for picture of Rhino from a distance as we could not see this ones horns through the long grass.         Durban private safari; Rhino Durban private safari; Rhino                             We even then got lucky with a couple of Water buck males crossing the road in front of us before we made our way down South to the Nyalazi gate for a restroom break.         Durban private safari; Waterbuck Durban private safari; Water buck                               Before we could get down to the Nyalazi gate we found a Nile Crocodile resting in one of the river beds which was awesome and then we began to spot lots of Impala and Nyala. Eventually we spotted some Giraffe but they were very far away. Sadly all our sighting of Giraffe until we were heading out of the game reserve of Hluhluwe Imfolozi were from very far away. We would have to settle for this below picture.       Durban private safari; Giraffe Durban private safari; Giraffe                               We stopped at the Centenary center for some curio shopping and quickly grabbed some food before we headed off again.    Having seen 3 of the Big 5 during the day we were not unhappy at all but we really wanted to have a better sighting of Rhino! Sadly we did not and had to settle for what we saw. It was 4pm and we departed the Hluhluwe Imfolozi game reserve the oldest game reserve in African back to Durban.   Having mixed up the day we had a great selection of animals and this had been a great day safari from Durban having seen a few interesting things!    

St Lucia day tour

St Lucia day tour 11th June 2015     I met my client from Durban where we would begin our 2.5 hour drive up to St Lucia the Isimangeliso Wetland park. This area is full off Hippo and Crocodiles and is the largest lake/estuarine system in Southern Africa.   St Lucia named after St Lucy and founded in 1554 by Portuguese sailors who were ship wrecked there and named the river “Rio de Areias de Ouro” meaning River of the sands of Gold. It is an amazing place full of ecological beauty and South Africas first proclaimed world heritage site is a must visit on either a Day tour from Durban or on an overnight safari from Durban.   After covering some of the interesting history of the area and the scenes on route we arrived and settled into a 2 hour boat cruise on the St Lucia estuary. The cruise in St Lucia is really relaxing and very beautiful. I have traveled with my wife to Zimbabwe and the the great Zambezi river which is in my opinion nothing near as good as St Lucia for viewing of Hippos and Crocodiles!         St Lucia day tour; Raft of Hippo St Lucia day tour; Raft of Hippo                                 One of our first sights was the above picture of a massive pod or raft of Hippo which were just resting after a long night of feeding on grass. Hippos can consume 15 -90 KGs of grass in a night and return to the water as they do not have sweat glands to cool themselves down so have to keep cool using the water.      We also spotted a fair number of Crocodiles and lots of Bird Life.         St Lucia day tour; Crocodile in Estuary St Lucia day tour; Crocodile in Estuary                               These amazing creatures have anything between 66 – 72 teeth in there mouth and can have up to 45 changes of teeth if they break in a fight of eating of food. They are cold blooded hence we can see them basking on the sand banks warming up their body temperature.     We managed to see a African fish eagle on the St Lucia day tour as well as Kingfishers and Herons.           St Lucia day tour; African Fish eagle in flight St Lucia day tour; African Fish eagle in flight                               The best was the above picture of the African fish eagle on this estuary boat tour at St Lucia were it flew right above us and I some how managed to capture it in a photo.   After we had nearly completed the 2 hour St Lucia boat cruise we spotted some Hippos standing outside the water and 2 young babies. This was an amazing scene for my clients!           St Lucia day tour; Hippos on shore St Lucia day tour; Hippos on shore                               We then heading of to the Crocodile park and I showed my clients some of the Historical things about the area and of course the Crocodile breeding program. St Lucia is a lovely quaint little town and after enjoying looking at the ancient Cycads, Crocodiles, Alligators, Snakes and a few other things we stopped for some lunch in the town.   The food was great and we relaxed before heading down to the board walk to the Estuary mouth where at times you can see Hippos and Crocodiles right on or next to the beech.   On route you always spot a few interesting signs like this one warning us of what is one the beach!         St Lucia day tour; Estuary board walk warning sign St Lucia day tour; Estuary board walk warning sign                             Believe it or not the Bull sharks are found in the estuary and can be aggressive so even they feature with the Hippo and Crocodile on the warning board. The board walk on the St Lucia tour is very enjoyable and it leads you onto the Estuary beach we you can see Maphelane, the second largest vegetated sand dune in the world at about 187 meters above sea level.           St Lucia day tour; Indian ocean and Maphelane St Lucia day tour; Indian ocean and Maphelane                               The Indian ocean with is the one we find in on this eastern part of South Africa is a warm ocean and is lovely to dip you feet into to at least say you have done it!   After a good walk on the beach we made our way back to the vehicle and slowly made our way back to Durban were I would be returning my clients after a very good St Lucia day tour.    

Sani Pass Tour

Sani Pass Tour into Lesotho 10th June 2015     I met my clients in Durban and we began the 2.5 – 3 hour drive up to Underberg where we would be ascending into the mountain kingdom of Lesotho via the Sani Pass. It was a very cold day and on route to Underberg we actually saw the mercury drop down to 1 degree Celsius which was quite something for South Africa and KwaZulu Natal, but it was our winter! As we drove I chatted about some of the interesting history but as my client we Lawyers they were keen on hearing my opinion on the state of the Nation.   We arrived in Underberg and it was around 5 degrees. After fulling up the paper work it was time to get into the 4×4 vehicle and we made our way slowly up the pass climbing over 1500 meters in a couple hours. We always stop to look at the amazing view on these Sani Pass tours so we can get some great pictures.         Sani Pass Tour; View up Sani Pass Sani Pass Tour; View up Sani Pass                                 The Drakensberg or Ukhahlamba in Zulu meaning Barrier of Spears is South Africa’s second World heritage site behind St Lucia or Isimangeliso wetland park where we would be going the following day. These majestic mountains cover over 250 kilometers and rise up to about 3500 meters which is the highest point south of Kilimanjaro. We reached the South African border post and got out at passport control and stretched the legs.         Sani Pass Tour; South African border post Sani Pass Tour; South African border post                               We then continued out Sani pass tour and arrived at the Lesotho boarder post and the temperature was 9 degrees we were all sure it was less as it was freezing.   Here at the Sani Top you have the highest pub and Africa which we had lunch at and some interesting shops.         Sani Pass Tour; Shop in Lesotho Sani Pass Tour; Shop in Lesotho                               The Chinese have just finished tarring the road from the top of the pass to the nearest town which made our drive really easy to the Basotho village where we met a couple Sesotho people and entered into one of the ladies huts for a taste of her free pot bread. It was as always lovely!         Sani Pass Tour; Basotho pot bread Sani Pass Tour; Basotho pot bread                               We also got to see some pigs which sound crazy but the mother pig had babies and they were actually cute. They even started sucking while we were there and this was a sight to behold as they gorged themselves! Sani pass is really a lovely way to access Lesotho if you have a 4×4 and is well worth the visit. We had learned more about the Basotho people and their culture so after a final picture of the Basotho hut we made our way back to Sani top to have lunch at the highest pub in Africa situated at 2874 meters above sea level!           Sani Pass Tour; Basotho hut Sani Pass Tour; Basotho hut                                 The lunch was great and we enjoyed the views down the mountain and Sani pass before getting back into the vehicle and making our way down from Lesotho leaving the majestic Sani Pass behind us and re-entering South Africa.           Sani Pass Tour; View down Sani Pass Sani Pass Tour; View down Sani Pass                               The hairpin bends at the last section of Sani pass are something you have to witness to believe and they views on this Sani pass tour are amazing. Words cannot describe the area, you have to visit this amazing area on a Durban day tour.   We arrived safely back down in South African and made our way back to Durban arriving home before 7am. The next day would be the St Lucia day tour.