To Durban and back

Avid traveller and sports enthusiast Maneesh Shrestha recently discovered the joys of active vacations and uncovered a whole new dimension to travel — one that includes the usual thrill of international travel and adds the punch of pursuing your passions at the same time

A new dimension to travel

Travel has meant many things to me over the years: the thrill of brand new experiences, part of the joy of parenting, the perks of my working life and most recently, a way to express and share my passion for running with others.

I have found myself over the past two years doing day trips to Pondicherry in between moving house and catching 4 am flights to Mumbai to make it to these events. It’s a different kind of joy travelling to these destinations not for sightseeing, food or shopping, but purely for the thrill of the sport. Going around a city on foot gives you a real sense of the vibe, the people and overall culture of the place.

South Africa and the Comrades Ultra Marathon

Earlier this month I was in South Africa for the 90th edition of the legendary Comrades Ultra Marathon,widely known as the world’s oldest and largest ultra marathon. Spanning a distance of about 90km (between the capital of the Kwazulu-Natal Province of South Africa, Pietermaritzburg, and the coastal city of Durban) Comrades has come to exemplify the strength of the human spirit, camaraderie, dedication, perseverance and selflessness.

Getting there

This was my first time in South Africa and the whole trip was built around this race. I went with a group of friends who are also runners (we all participated in Comrades). We flew Emirates which was the most convenient route to Durban. I have to say, the airline was a disappointment- but from the time we landed, South Africa was won us over with its hospitality, diversity and warmth.

Durban, South Africa’s paradise

Durban is a charming little city along the stunning South African coast. We stayed in a four star hotel called Bellaire Suites, located in Durban’s beach front (Rooms: USD 73 / night).  We also hired a car for the duration of our stay (about USD 40 per person). With GPS to help with navigation, driving there was easy since they follow right hand drive too.For us runners Durban, with its expansive coastlines and beach-front cafes was a match made in heaven.

The prices in Durban surprised us — contrary to what we had expected, it was not an expensive city. The price of beer is always a good benchmark and even at the airport a pint of beer cost 25 Rand (2 USD) which is significantly cheaper than even cities like New Delhi!

In and around Durban

Durban is known for its diversity. The blend of African, Indian and Western influences is visible in everything from their accent to their food.

Blessed with natural beauty, Durban has everything from eclectic music festivals & world famous races to diving sites rich in oceanic life. There are also once in a lifetime experiences to be had at their bush and mountain reserves.

All in all, the year-round vacation weather, the warmth and hospitality of its people and the vibrant cultural life makes Durban a winning combination for travellers. Highly recommended!

A piece of the magic in Nepal

Every year people from all over the world travel to Nepal to experience the same spirit of camaraderie and pleasure of pursuing your passions in unforgettable natural surroundings that I experience at events like Comrades. From Annapurna 100 to Yak Attack and Himalayan Rush Triathlon people come to Nepal to experience the stunning beauty of the mountains, the challenge of tough trails and the joy of sharing their passion for sport with others. So whether it’s in South Africa, Cambodia or closer to home, I highly recommend you mix play and pleasure, travel and sport.

The author is the first Nepali to have completed the legendary Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa. In Nepal, he is the organiser of Himalayan Rush Triathlon, known as one of the best destination triathlons in the region.

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