iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Discover South Africa's amazing natural World Heritage site in the north of Kwazulu-Natal, the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, now known as iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Encompassing 5 ecosystems, St. Lucia boasts a form of biodiversity unique to South Africa. With such beauty and natural importance it is no wonder that Portuguese explorers first named St. Lucia “River of the Sands of Gold”. In 1999 Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park was declared by IUCN as a World Heritage Site. For the visitor, iSimangaliso Wetland Park offers a magical experience where you can truly get in touch with the natural world.
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park takes in a number of well-known reserves and tourist destinations such as Mkuzi Game Reserve, Kosi Bay and Sodwana Bay. Nearby is the Big 5 Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve which is home to the biggest rhinoceros population in the world. But why is the protection of St. Lucia so vital? Wetlands are considered the number 3 on the list of important life support systems. Abundant life thrives due to the sealine lake systems. Should the fresh water supply from the wetlands to the lake were to stop, the lake would stand a high risk of becoming a salt pan. This fresh water supply is of the utmost importance to keep the lake stable. As a natural paradise, St. Lucia is known for its diverse plant and animal life. The beautiful pristine coastline is edged by the crystal waters of the Indian Ocean. Exquisite vegetated sand dunes rise into the fresh air. Marine mammals such as dolphins and whales can frequently be seen swimming through the waves of the coastline. A vibrant collection of brightly colored tropical fish gather in the waters to feed on the coral reefs. Big game fishing is popular here and massive marlin are eagerly sought after. Between October and April is turtle breeding season when large numbers of loggerhead turtles crawl up the sands at night to lay their clutches. St. Lucia also supports an abundance of bird life. From Goliath herons fishing in the waters to pelicans soaring above, the wetland is a birders dream.
A number of exciting outdoor activities are available at St. Lucia. Self-guided walking trails will lead you through grasslands, sub-tropical forest and even pans filled with lilies. Game safaris are a great way to spot St. Lucia's fascinating wildlife species. Hop aboard one of the hippo cruises for a quiet, relaxing day on Lake St. Lucia. The glistening beaches are absolutely tempting. Spend the day sun bathing, enjoying a picnic or playing volley ball. Accommodation options also abound in and around the wetlands park. The iSimangaliso Wetland Park is an unforgettable experience with nature, a glorious meeting of the blue ocean with the verdant African landscape.