KwaZulu Natal Tourist AttractionsCharters Creek
Where? Charters Creek, Western Shores, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Elephant Coast, KwaZulu Natal
How? Call +27 (0)35 590-1633
Charters Creek lies on the Western Shores of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park on KwaZulu Natal's Elephant Coast. This section is a recent addition to the St Lucia collection, opening to the general public only in December 2013.
Before that only a few privileged guests, on heritage tours and safaris with specific tour operators, were allowed to visit this section.
Over eight years the park has been actively rehabilitating this easily accessed portion of iSimangaliso, removing alien trees to restore 25 000 hectares to its former natural landscape, and reintroducing historically occurring game such as elephant, serval, giraffe, white and black rhino, buffalo, zebra and wildebeest.
The numerous pans and wetlands of the Western Shores now boast choice herds of waterbuck, reedbuck and kudu, hippos, crocodiles and a particularly diverse waterfowl collection.
Charters Creek reserve, opposite Mission Rocks, well known for its beautiful coastal sand forest, is a favourite spot with fishermen and birders. It has two walking trails (Isikhova and Umkumbe) that are great for spotting birds, as is the lake shore.
There are no fewer than 300 bird species at Charters Creek, which lies on a bluff overlooking Lake St Lucia, including a string of grassland and wetland specials. At the moment it is open only to day visitors and allows fishing from the shore and by boat.
The Western Shores include new game drives - the uMphathe Loop (the Kweyezalukazi lookout is worth a stop) and uMdoni Loop, which takes you to the uMthoma Aerial Boardwalk through the forest to overlook Lake St Lucia's narrows with views as far north as Cape Vidal, and south to Maphelane.
The eMgadankawu Hide allows for bird spotting in comfort, and the uBhejane picnic site is perfect for lunch stops.
This part of the park has fewer visitors than the Eastern Shores, and the daily number of cars is limited to 120. One seldom has to queue and there is the option of two gates – Nhlozi gate is close to Hluhluwe and the Emdodeni Wildcat Centre, whilst the Dukuduku gate is closer to the town of St Lucia. One can easily enter by one gate and leave by the other.
Include the Kwelamadoda pan for birds and the amazibu water lilly, and the Kwelezintombi pan for hippos.