What to do in Durban when it rains
This coastal town has more rainy days in December than in any other month. Fear not, there is still plenty to do, writes Shelley Seid
1. STOP TO PRAY
The Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple of Understanding, or the Hare Krishna temple, is located just off the highway in Chatsworth. Unbelievably ornate and designed in the shape of a lotus plant, this is the largest Hare Krishna ashram in Africa. It's well worth a visit. Have lunch at Govinda's vegetarian restaurant on the ground floor of the temple. Top-notch food at rock-bottom prices.
- 50 Bhaktivedanta Swami Circle in Chatsworth, near the Higginson Highway, 031 403 3328
2. ICE ICE BABY
Get into the Christmas spirit, put on your woolies and head to one of Durban's two state-of-the-art ice rinks. Both are open seven days a week, from morning till 10pm.
- Galleria Ice Rink, Galleria Shopping Mall, Amanzimtoti. Tel: 031 904 1156, Durban Ice Rink, 81 Somtseu Road, 031 332 4597
3. HAVE A COLD ONE
For a modest R20, you can take one of the daily guided tours of the Prospecton branch of the South African Breweries. You will see the brewing and packaging process and be invited to enjoy beer tasting and snacks in the brewery's pub after the tour. Tastings and appreciation sessions can be arranged.
- Contact Siza on 031 910 1111
4. GET WETTER
Drive two hours south to the Wild Coast Sun, where Wild Waves, a new water park costing about R80-million and boasting some of the most advanced rides in the world, has just opened. The "AquaLoop" will whizz you inside a capsule into a near vertical loop and the "Boomaranga" tube ride will rock you from side to side before letting you experience total weightlessness. Who cares about the rain?
- Contact the Wild Coast Sun on 039 305 2787
5. LET OFF STEAM
Catch the Inchanga Choo Choo, a fabulous, old steam train that travels through the Valley of 1000 Hills to the Inchanga station, where a craft market, tea garden and picnic area await. If you book upfront, you can also have lunch at the station master's house.
- www.umgenisteamrailway.co.za or phone Robbie on 082 353 6003
6. AND WETTER STILL
You came to Durban to swim, so head to the Kings Park swimming complex. The main pool, which is used for international events, is an Olympic-sized (50m), heated, indoor pool, complete with lanes, coaches and seriously buff swimmers. The 25m outdoor pool is also heated. Open seven days a week, the complex is directly opposite the Moses Mabhida Stadium, so after a decent workout treat yourself to a meal at the Keg and Spear or Nino's.
- 54 Masabalala Yengwa Ave, 031 312 0404
7. WATER ON THE BRAIN
Get thinking at the ScienCentre at Gateway, where 150 interactive science and technology displays will fascinate, excite and educate both kids and adults. Speak to someone on the other side of the room with the giant whisper dish or launch an air rocket.
- Gateway shopping centre 031 566 8040
8. STEAM CLEAN
Indulge in the ultimate pampering at the Oyster Box Hotel's spa with South Africa's only hammam, a sensual bathing retreat with its roots in Roman times. Indulge in a mist shower or try the cold- or the warm-water plunge pool. While you are at it, order something off the spa menu to restore your mind, body and taste buds.
- Oyster Box Hotel, 2 Lighthouse Road, Umhlanga Rocks, 031 514 5072
9. SINGIN' AND DANCIN' IN THE RAIN
There is nothing like a matinée on a rainy day. This holiday there's plenty of Durban theatre to choose from: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is on at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre until January 8. Cinderella is at the Playhouse until the end of the year and you can catch The Big Top at The Barnyard. Of course, Durban's infamous naughty adult panto - this year it's Alice in Wonderland - plays until New Year's eve. Bookings through Computicket.