Apr 292009

South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal)

iSimangaliso Wetland Park (formerly known as Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park) is situated on the east coast of KwaZulu-Natal, and includes the St Lucia Game Reserve, False Bay Park, St Lucia Marine Reserve, Sodwana Bay National Park, Maputaland Marine Reserve, Cape Vidal, Ozabeni, Mfabeni, Tewate Wilderness Area and Mkuze Game Reserve.

Covering about 240,000 ha, with a further 84,000 ha in, on or under the sea, this is a large chunk of sub-tropical paradise stretching 220 km along the Indian Ocean coastline of South Africa, from St. Lucia to the Mozambican border.

Mphelane, the southernmost part of the park, is also the highest vegetated (185 m) sand dune in South Africa and the second highest vegetated sand dune in the world. The view from the top of this dune is exquisite and on a clear day one can see for miles. This area is very unique since it is the southernmost part of the Mozambique coastal plain and the Northern section of the Tugela shelve. This combination of habitats renders an exclusive natural experience from rivers, estuaries, carbonated sand stone rock and the beautiful splendor of nature at its best, untouched.

Sodwana Bay, in northern Maputaland, is home to some of the most southerly coral reefs in the world, courtesy of the Benguela Current that brings warm, clear water down from the tropics. As well as spectacular reef coral, you’ll find all the pretty little guys. And the lady raggies that were partying down on the South Coast come up here to chill in the warm water, gestate their little sharklets and – possibly – gossip. We have it on good authority they don’t knit or crochet. Sodwana is South Africa’s most popular (read a tad crowded) dive destination, but it’s great and the reefs are surprisingly untrashed. Further north, the reefs are no better than at Sodwana, but the diving is very uncrowded, very relaxed, very exclusive and a tad more pricey.

Mabibi is a magical place of tranquil swimming bays and snorkeling reefs, coastal forests, grasslands, bush, shimmering lakes and exquisite sandy beaches. Its crystal clear, warm waters offer unparalleled snorkeling and fantastic offshore scuba diving…

Late November and December is the best time to spot the turtles nesting. From February to March the tiny hatchlings will emerge and run the gauntlet of ghost crabs and sea birds to the ocean. After their mad dash they drift for a few years in the warm Agulhas regional current feasting on deliciously rich food – particularly jellyfish, bluebottles, bubble raft shells and the Portuguese Man-O’-War.

The Kosi system is situated in the northeastern corner of the Elephant Coast a mere 2 km south of Ponta do Ouro on the Mozambique border. Dr. George Campbell described it as “a wonderfull aquarium and most gorgeous aviary”. The system is about 18 km long, parallel to the coast. The Kosi Lake covers about 37 km². Kosi Bay is most famous for its traditional fish kraals, a network of reeds, placed in such a manner, they allow small fish through and only trapping migrating species. This dates back to the early Nguni tribes that moved down from central Africa. The Tsonga people have been using this practice for hundreds of years.

iSimangaliso Wetland Park - Cape Vidal



Location (from 28° 24′ 35.90″ S, 32° 25′ 21.15″ E to 26° 53′ 38.05″ S, 32° 52′ 50.55″ E)

about 275 kilometres north of Durban

View iSimangaliso Wetland Park in a larger map

service providers

Service Providers

Kosi Forest Lodge is the only private lodge in the Kosi Bay Nature Reserve – an unspoilt wilderness that is part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

Thonga Beach Lodge is a luxury lodge nestled on the pristine coastline of the St. Lucia World Heritage Park. Crystal clear waters offer superb snorkeling and off-shore scuba diving. Also enjoy forest walks, kayaking, sundowners & turtle tours.

Hluhluwe River Lodge is situated just 25 minutes from Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, overlooking Lake St Lucia. Adventures for up to 24 guests include horse riding, scenic mountain bike trails, hikes, boat trips and a unique cultural tour on quad bikes.

Makakatana Bay Lodge is the only privately owned safari lodge set on the banks of Lake St Lucia within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site. Officially rated 4-star, the lodge offers 6 suites for a maximum of 12 only guests. Activities include 4×4 open vehicle safaris, boat trips, beach safaris, the Big 5 of Hluhluwe/Umfolozi National Park and intimate contact with the rich culture of the Zulu people.

Advantage Tours & Charters in St. Lucia offer a number of exciting adventures including Deep Sea Game Fishing, Snorkel Safaris, Hippo & Croc Boat Tours, seasonal Turtle Tours, Horse Riding on the Beach, Birding Walks, Bicycle Tours and of course, being the holder of the only local whaling license, Whale Watching Cruises.

For next to everything, consult the central information & bookings website of the Elephant Coast Tourism Association covering iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve, Mkhuze Game Reserve, Lubombo Mountains, Ndumo Game Reserve, Tembe Elephant Park, Kosi Bay, Lake Sibaya and Sodwana Bay.

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