KwaZulu Natal Game and Nature ReservesThe Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park
The Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park - now known as the iSimangaliso Wetland Park - was declared South Africa's first Natural World Heritage Site on 1 December 1999. It is considered South Africa's third largest park and extends from Mapelane (Cape St. Lucia) in the South, to Kozi Bay Nature Reserve in the North.
The iSimangaliso / Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park incorporates Lake St Lucia, the St Lucia and Maputaland Marine Reserves, the Coastal Forest Reserve and Kosi Bay Nature Reserve.
The park has 280km of near pristine coastline and comprises of 328 000 hectares of magnificent scenery. Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park encompasses an immense mosaic of habitats ranging from marine systems (coral reefs and beaches) and coastal forests (from salt and fresh water marshes to the open estuarine waters of Lake St Lucia itself) from lush coastal plains to the drier woodland areas. This is a remarkably beautiful place in South Africa.
The park is situated in the southern end of the Mozambique coastal plain near the towns of St Lucia, Mtubatuba, Hluhluwe, Mkuze, Mbaswana and Manguzi. This is a transitional zone in terms of fauna and flora between the temperate forms of the south and the tropical forms in the north and many species are endemic to this coastal plain. The protected area is home to the largest population of hippopotamus and approximately 1,000 crocodiles as well as a wealth of plant and animal life.
The largest mammal found in the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park is the humpback whale and on land the African Elephant. In 2001 Elephant was introduced into the wetlands system and this has brought this area closer to "big five" status and has re-introduced a key ecological vector. Other mammals include Buffalo, Rhino, Zebra, Eland and Kudu. Wildlife Safaris on horseback is an extraordinary experience as the game see you as part of the horse and don't frighten easily which affords you the opportunity to get up close to the animals.
Of great interest is the staggering array of birdlife to be found in the St Lucia Wetlands. Over 500 different species of birds are resident or pass through the wetland system annually and comprise of marine, wetland and forest birds.
The park has one of the most diverse variety of frogs and their choruses can often be heard at night and on dull rainy days. The highly endangered gaboon adder and a large variety of other snake species reside in this subtropical coastal dune forest.
Other reptiles, such as the marine turtles, the Leatherback Turtle and Loggerhead Turtles utilise the protective beaches of the St Lucia Wetlands Park to breed in November of each year.
The St Lucia Wetlands Park is a popular destination and offers a wide range of activities. Fishing, boating and bird-watching, scuba-diving, hiking and camping are all on offer and the region offers marvellous photographic opportunities to the amateur and professional photographer alike.
Popular Activities in Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park
iSimangaliso Marine Protected Area
Where? St Lucia
iSimangaliso Wetland Park is the largest marine protected area (MPA) in South Africa. Up until February 2016 the country conserved roughly 21 Marine Protected Areas, when an announcement by the government outlined its intention to add a further...
More info and contact details: iSimangaliso Marine Protected Area
Kayak on the St Lucia Estuary
This guided kayak safari takes place on the St Lucia Estuary, where the tidal waters are home to a large variety of fauna and flora. Paddle around the mangrove-covered islands and spot basking crocodiles and fishing water-birds. Hear the cry of the...
More info and contact details: Kayak Safari on the St Lucia Estuary
Beach Rides on Horse Back
We take the horses out along Iphiva Beach at the northern end of St Lucia where there are many kilometres of clean white sand with the Indian Ocean rolling in alongside. During the whale season (May to November) we sometimes see humpbacks breaching...
More info and contact details: Beach Rides on Horse Back
Whale Watching in St Lucia
When you think of whale song, you think of the sound that the humpback whale makes. Their collection of moans, cries and howls can continue for hours and have made them rather famous. St Lucia, on the elephant coast, has boat-based whale watching trips...
More info and contact details: Whale Watching in St Lucia