St Lucia Wetland Park (iSimangaliso Wetland Park) is located approximately 275 km north of Durban, along the east coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal. The beautiful area is known for its phenomenal diversity and boasts of being South Africa’s third largest protected area, covering an impressive distance of 280 km of coastline.
The region incorporates the St Lucia and Maputaland Marine Reserves, Lake St Lucia, the Kosi Bay Nature Reserve and Coastal Forest reserve. St Lucia Wetland Park tours are the perfect way to appreciate the expansive area, which encompasses 328 000 hectares of breath-taking scenery. The park is predominantly synonymous with its incredibly diversified habitats, ranging from coastal forests to marine eco-systems. Gaze out over extensive fresh water marshes and explore the beauty of the ancient woodlands.
Due to its transitional location, in the southern end of the Mozambique coastal plain, the area supports an abundance of vegetation, including many endemic species of plants. As well as flora, the region also hosts a wealth of fauna, including one of South Africa’s largest populations of hippopotami and in excess of a thousand crocodiles.
Look out for magnificent herds of African elephants that roam the plains and hide in the fragrant forests. Apart from elephants, you can also expect to see rhino, zebra, eland, buffalo and kudu, along with majestic humpback whales, at certain times in the year. One of the best ways to explore the park is to hop on a horse and view the area from a different perspective, getting remarkably close to the other animals in the reserve.
Bird lovers will be in paradise as the area supports in excess of 500 bird species, include a number of rare wetland and marine varieties. Keep a look out for charismatic Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles and at night, listen to the frogs as they serenade the incandescent moon. This is a place where active souls will feel at home – there are plenty of activities to fill your days, including fishing, boating, scuba diving, hiking and camping.
The park is an ideal hot spot for scuba divers as the area hosts unspoilt reefs which teem with vivid marine life – look out for some of the sea’s most renowned visitors, including graceful whale sharks and camouflaged octopuses. This Natural World Heritage Site is well worth the visit – tours to St Lucia Wetland Park are always popular and when you visit the untamed wilderness, you will soon see why.