KwaZulu Natal DestinationsMtubatuba, Elephant Coast
Initially established as a railway siding in 1903 in a swampland of reeds and papyrus, the town Mtubatuba was almost swept away in 1918 in one of the worst floods the area had seen in over 100 years. It was only in the late 1920s that efforts to drain the swamp began and Mtubatuba became an official village in 1950.
Responsible for much of the town’s battle with water, the Mfolozi River meanders across swampy plains before reaching the sea within metres of the St Lucia Estuary. However, it joins with the White and Black Mfolozi rivers on the boundary of the Umfolozi Game Reserve, potentially more than doubling its strength and explaining its capacity for flooding. The flip side of this same coin is the fertility of the Mfolozi Flats, giving rise to sugar farms and a mill.
Mtubatuba has made its way onto the map of South Africa largely because of its proximity to Lake St Lucia and the Hluhluwe and Umfolozi Game Reserves. Mtubatuba provides a key stopover for tourists and travellers heading inland or to the coast.
This is the land of sugar cane and forests and, further north, a mountainous ridge along the coast that culminates in a series of giant forested dunes. The highest of their kind in the world, they provide the backdrop to the medley of rivers, lakes, freshwater pans and swamp forest that is Lake St Lucia.