I was excited to hear I was going to Richard’s Bay. My colleagues always raved about how beautiful it is and I was just waiting for my opportunity to see it. Finally, the opportunity arose. My travel form was submitted and the next thing I knew was on my way!
For those of you that don’t know, Richard’s Bay, it’s in the northern region of the Kwa-Zulu Natal province. From Cape Town, it is 1800 km in distance which according to Google Maps is a 21 hours drive.
Fortunately for me, my boss doesn’t hate me so a 21 hour drive was not on the horizon. I took a (less than) 2 hour flight to Durban and hired a car at the King Shaka Airport. I’ve never flown to Durban before (can tick that one off my list!). In fact, the last time I was in Durban I must have been 9 years old. I was the coolest kid in my class for like 4 hours when I showed up with the pink braid in my hair (a Durban tourist must-do in the 90’s).
I was a bit hesitant about driving alone from Durban to Richard’s Bay (approx 178km, about a 1h30 to 2h drive). I was really unfamiliar with the area so I brought along my trusty GPS. The only problem with my trusty GPS is that I have not updated it in years! Getting out of the airport proved to be a problem as my GPS kept leading me to a dead-end highway.
After driving in the wrong direction for at least 15 minutes, I pulled off, had a quick panic and prayed that my work’s S3 would be more reliable. Thank goodness – it was and I managed to find the road I was supposed to be on. Clearly, my GPS has not been updated since the 2010 World Cup!
To my utter embarrassment, it was sooooooo easy to find the road to Richard’s Bay! The N2 highway was also amazing to drive on. I could understand why so many of my colleagues said it took them an hour to drive there. It is very tempting to put your foot down and also easy to not notice that you are WAY over the speed limit. The trip still took me just under 2 hours to do (I was warned there were many speed traps on the road and I try not to speed in general). The only real hazard on the road were the many school kids walking along the highway at certain times during the day. Otherwise, I can confidently say that even your granny can do this drive.
Blue Marlin Guest House
The 4-star rated Blue Marlin Guesthouse was recommended to me. It was easy enough to find and checking in was a breeze. I was a bit disappointed with the decor – it looked a bit 90’s to me. But there was a chocolate on the bed and hey, chocolate always wins me over.
The room was spacious, had ample space to work and had a sliding door leading out to the back. My room did not have a fridge which is something I always find frustrating (I need my cold water!).
Richard’s Bay is really humid. Way too humid for a Cape Tonian like myself. The aircon in my room worked okay but it was so noisy! My colleague had a much more modern aircon in her room so if you stay there, ask about it!
We left so early in the morning, I cannot really rate the breakfast…
In addition, the staff were really nice and exceptionally accommodating. For reasons beyond my control, I had to stay an extra night and they sorted it out with the travel agent. I did not have to move rooms or check out.
Richard’s Bay and Nkandla
I didn’t spend much time in Richard’s Bay. I went to check out the harbour one evening and it was really pretty. Can’t say the same for my picture below – what can I say, it was a rough few days with a lot of driving!
We used Richard’s Bay as a base but we were actually driving around other areas. One of these was Nkandla (about 160km of fairly rough roads out of Richard’s Bay). The now world-famous Nkandla is known for President Zuma’s rather pricey homestead and related security upgrades. However, Nkandla is actually a rather vast and sparsely populated area. It is beautiful, lush and green.
It is also not very developed (outside of the town). As someone was saying, here the cows are your traffic lights / robots. Anyway, I heard from a source that this area is famous for the growing of Durban Poison. Apparently, the modest folk there don’t smoke it, they just grow it and use it as a way to secure a livelihood.
We drove past the president’s other home and I took this picture from the road. I personally thought it looked fairly modest…just lots of little hut-like structures.
Blue Marlin Guest House