Maputaland Marine Reserve, KwaZulu Natal
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park, known as one of the 'jewels' of South Africa's coastline and a UNESCO declared World Heritage Site, is an incredible assimilation of beaches, coral reefs, wetlands, swamps, lakes, woodlands, coastal forests and grasslands that used to be known as the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park (renamed in 1997) and stretches from Cape St Lucia in the south to Kozi Bay in the north, on the north-eastern coast of KwaZulu Natal.
Within the park's boundaries (the third largest protected area in the country) lies Lake St Lucia, the Coastal Forest Reserve, Kosi Bay Natural Reserve and the St Lucia and Maputaland Marine Reserves. This unspoilt coastline is famous for a handful of incredibly beautiful and virtually wild areas the St Lucia Wetlands, Sodwana Bay and the Maputaland Marine Reserve.
Whilst Maputaland Marine Reserve lies within the park, it is also part of Maputaland, a biodiversity hotspot and a sizzling, humid, abundant wilderness that lies in the extreme northeast of South Africa right up against Mozambique's border.
The Maputaland Marine Reserve extends from roughly 11 kilometres north of Jesser Point all the way to the Mozambique border. The main reason for its existence is the preservation of a large number of leatherback turtles nesting in the area, which were dwindling in number because of exploitation. Within the reserve only rural people living the Kosi Bay area may harvest intertidal invertebrates, no one else may make use of the resources in the area.
Within the Maputaland marine Reserve lies Sodwana Bay, the only scuba-diving area along this strip of coastline and regarded as one of the top dive sites in the world with a 50 kilometre reef complex and visited by some 35 000 scuba divers a year.
game and nature reserves in kwazulu natal