Eyewitness Gabriel Sithole, Radio host and wildlife conservationist talks about Durban

Durban, on the Indian Ocean, in KwaZulu-Natal province, is a mix of African, Indian and English-Dutch culture and flavours. Surfing beaches, a tropical climate and hiking opportunities galore in the Drakensberg mountains are all just around the corner.

Gabriel Sithole, radio presenter, wildlife conservationist and photographer moved from his hometown Greytown to Durban. He co-hosts the morning show on Vuma 103 FM, a (mostly) Zulu language radio station. The program sounds fun, it “… looks for the silly in the serious, and the serious in the silly. The show is opinionated but accommodating… Be prepared to be provoked, tickled, persuaded...".

Gabriel Sithole

I met Gabriel through social media and the TravelChatSA community when I realized we share the love for travelling and the passion for our environment. He is a big fan of road trips and loves to spontaneously get into a car and finding a new place to experience and to enjoy the South African landscape and her spectacular scenery. That, by the way, made him the perfect Ford Wildlife Foundation brand ambassador. He now travels around South Africa in his Ford Ranger, taking photographs along the way and raising environmental awareness.

The Ford Wildlife Foundation is supported by Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa, with involvement in over 150 conservation projects. To give you an idea, the Black Rhino Project, for example, promotes conservation and growth of the black rhino population in KwaZulu Natal. The Enkangala Grasslands Project promotes the concept of biosphere reserves and the establishment and maintenance of a biosphere reserve for the high altitude moist grasslands of Mpumalanga, KwaZulu Natal and Free State Provinces of South Africa.

Lucky us, Gabriel Sithole found some time to tell us about Durban.

The Touristin: Three words that characterize Durban?

Gabriel Sithole: Chilled. Hot! Fun!

The Touristin: How do you get around Durban?

Gabriel Sithole: I drive around mostly, however in the CBD I travel from the heart of the city to either north or south beach in a taxi, at a cost of R5. Just R5!

The Touristin: What is the best-kept secret about Durban?

Gabriel Sithole: It is the best city in the Republic of South Africa in terms of all-around lifestyle. The cost of living is lower than in the rest of the country. Best quality of life for less.

The Touristin: What is your favourite borough/suburb/area in Durban and why?

Gabriel Sithole: My favourite part is Umdloti. It is small, tucked away and on the beachfront.

The Touristin: The best place for a hot chocolate or coffee in Durban?

Gabriel Sithole: The best place for a hot chocolate in Durban is Cacao Bar in the Gateway Theatre of Shopping.

The Touristin: What is one restaurant we must try out while in Durban?

The Unique Lifestyle Cafe at the Square in Umhlanga, where it is all about European versus South African food. Order a Shisha Nyama platter (braai aka bbq) together with focaccia. Very different from the usual Pap and vleis* tradition. *Pap and vleis: Boerewors (South African sausage) and Mielie meal (maize porridge).

The Touristin: Where would we meet you on weekends?

Gabriel Sithole: That’s a tough one. On Saturday mornings: I would most likely be along the beach walk, photographing the sunrise. In the afternoon, possibly catching a movie at the Musgrave Centre. In the evening, either at Growthpoint Kings Park or Moses Mabhida Stadium catching a game of rugby or football. On Sunday: I’m normally around People’s Park or Botanical Gardens, taking my two-year-old out for playtime.

The Touristin: Do you have a favourite museum/gallery we all have to visit when in Durban?

Gabriel Sithole: The Art Centre on Florida Road is amazing. Here you get an opportunity to see the work of upcoming artists.

The Touristin: What are some of your favourite places to shop for A) groceries and B) clothes in Durban?

Gabriel Sithole: A) Durban has a number of big food wholesalers, ideal for bulk buying. There are even meat wholesalers. My favourite though is Jolly Meats in Clare Estate.

B) Gateway Theatre of Shopping is the ultimate shopping experience. Too many shops, not enough time to get through all of them.

The Touristin: What souvenir shall we bring back from Durban?

Gabriel Sithole: There are too many to choose from. You could try: Zulu-sandals called “izimbadada (pron: eezi-mbar-dah-dah) or A calabash (a Zulu vase, which you could use as a pot-plant) or you could visit Mansell Road market, where the stalls sell strictly Zulu “everything and everything”…at extremely good prices.

The Touristin: Thank you so much for your time, Gabriel. I wish you all the best and great success and lots fun as the ambassador for the Ford Ford Wildlife Foundation. Keep up the good work.

And now go and meet Gabriel Sithole on Twitter and Facebook. Meet more locals from all around the world in the Eyewitness - City Guides series.