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Lake St Lucia in South Africa
- Lake St Lucia Introduction
- Western Shores
- Eastern Shores
- Boat Cruises
- Canoe Safaris
- Mziki Hiking Trails
- Map & Location
- Contact Details
Lake St Lucia forms a part of the Greater St Lucia Wetland reserve on South Africa's east coast, about 150 miles north of Durban in KwaZulu Natal. For more on the whole area take a look at the Greater St Lucia Wetland Reserve.
The main lake of St. Lucia is around 40km in length, containing a number of islands including Mitchell Island, Fanie's Island Lane island and Bird island. At the southern end of Lake St. Lucia it narrows and into a 21km long channel in the south that goes past the village of St. Lucia and then becomes an estuary lined with mangroves as it enters into the sea.
The Western side of Lake St Lucia has a protected strip of land that follows the shoreline and that forms part of the St Lucia Park (St Lucia Game Reserve). It consists mainly of what is described as Savannah and Thornveld.
False Bay Park lies on the north western shoreline of Lake St Lucia, and runs from the Hluhluwe river in the south to the Mzinene river in the north. There are two excellent walking trails, Dugandlovu, which takes a full day and the Mpophomeni, which will take around 3 hours. There are also some basic accommodation options here consisting of thatched huts as well as a campsite (see accommodation below)
Also on the western shores you will find Charter's Creek with it's rustic thatched camp, right on the shore of the Lake. This makes an excellent place to stay (see details below) for those looking to do some fishing. There are also nature walks, great for spotting the wonderful birdlife as well as a possible encounter with the many smaller species of antelope in the area.
On the eastern shores of Lake St Lucia and separating the lake from the sea, you find wetlands, pans, swamps and the thickly forested dunes, that include Natal Wild Banana trees (Strelitza nicolai), White Milkwood (Sideroxylon inerme) and Natal Fig trees (Ficus natalensis). There is also plenty of wildlife, with good concentrations of Common Reedbuck, Red Duiker, Hippo, crocodiles as well as Elephant, Black Rhino and Leopard.
Probably the most enjoyable way to explore the estuary is by boat accompanied by a knowledgeable guide. The St Lucia boat cruises take around two hours and provide in-depth information on the fauna and flora. There are a few tour operators all who have similar programs and that run every day. You can make bookings at any of the tourism outlets in McKenzie Street or on the Santa Lucia cruiser for about R120 per adult (£12) and R60 per child (£6)
Tel: 035 590 1340/1
Go on a 2 hour canoe trip up the estuary between Lake St. Lucia and the Indian Ocean, this can be organised through St Lucia Kayak Safaris and costs around R250 (about £25) per person or for a full day safari that includes snorkelling and lunch R400 (about £40)
Tel: 035 590 1233
It is possible to organise a walking safari in this area and they range from two to three day guided trails, that take you along the shores of Lake St Lucia and Lake Bhangazi as well as around the Mfabeni swamp and into the Tewate Wilderness area.
The main St Lucia hiking trail is known as the Mziki hiking trail, a three day self-guided or guided trail, which is made up of three circular routes, each returning to the trails base camp at Mount Tabor, not far from Mission Rocks.
From the base camp at Mount Tabor you get a unique view of the St Lucia Lake in the west and the Indian ocean in the east.
Mziki Hiking Trail 1
South Coast loop is 10 km long and returns to the Mt Tabor base camp in the evening. The terrain consisits of open grassland, dune forest, beach, freshwater pans and hippo paths. Trees of interest includes the ornamental coral tree in the open veld, the long- lived milkwood tree of the dune forests and the rare forest fig.
Mziki Hiking Trail 2
This is the Lake loop that is 10 km long and returns to the Mt Tabor base camp in the evening. The lake trail or Mfazana Pan loop heads in a westerly direction through indigenous forest, past the Mfazana freshwater pan, where you see waterfowl, hippos and crocodiles.
Mziki Hiking Trail 3
This is the North Coast loop which is 18 km long, returning to the base camp in the evening (Mt Tabor). The trial heads northwards along the Mount Tabor Ridge, through some pine plantation and then drops down into the Bokkie Valley, through forested dunes and along 8 km of uninhibited coastline back to Mt. Tabor.
Accommodation is provided in the old radar station hut and it sleeps eight people. Beds and mattresses are supplied. Crockery and cutlery is supplied and there is a two plate gas cooker. Ablutions is in the form of a bucket shower and a long drop toilet. No fridge or freezer facilities are available.
You will arrive at Mission Rocks and park your vehicle in the allocated parking area, then make your way, on foot, to the base camp (approximately 2 km 40 min. walk). From there you may choose which trail they do each day of your stay.
For more information read our report on the Mziki Hiking Trails on the Safari Guide Blog >>
At the time of writing this trail was ubder the control of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Tel: (035) 590 9002
However it is soon to be handed over to the iSimangaliso Wetland Authority
Tel: 033 845 1002
The Kosi Hike
Hiking from Siyazenzela - The new Kosi Bay hike is a collaboration between Maputaland Bush Camp & Horse Safaris, Kosi Forest Lodge, Kosi Bay Lodge, Kwadapha community and Amanzinyama Camp. Some operators provide accommodation and others provide optional activities for slack pack hikers. Maputaland is also such a complex region, in every way imaginable, that slack packing the trail with guides and hosts is the way to go. The experience is enhanced by having someone explain the history, culture or the spectacular nature around a campfire evening.
There is a variety of accommodation types around the lake:
Charter's Creek Camp
Consists of 7-bed cottage, 2 bed self-catering chalet and thatched rondavels
Dugandlovu Rest Camp at False Bay Park
There is a campsite, as well as very basic thatched buildings with reed walls, with a communal kitchen area. There is a swimming pool as well as a platform that overlooks the Lake.
Too book any of these see KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife contact details below.
Fanie's Island Camp
Located on Fanie's island, there are thatched with a shared kitchen , as well as a campsite and swimming pool.
Tel: +27 (0)35-5501631
The St. Lucia tourist centre of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (previously St. Lucia Wetland Park): accessed from Mtubatuba on the R618. After crossing the estuary on a bridge, leave the traffic circle towards the right into McKenzie Street. Along this 500 metre long main road one finds basically all the shops and stores, supermarkets, Internet cafés and restaurants and many accommodation venues. If you go streight through the traffic circle, it takes you to the beaches.
Below is a map showing the location of the lake and other points of interest in the surrounding area.
Lake St Lucia forms only a part of the whole reserve, below are links to other sections within the Greater St Lucia Wetland Reserve.
The Parts that make up the whole of St. Lucia Wetland Reserve
Because of St Lucia's large size, individual reserves and diversity of habitats, to understand it properly I have decided to break it down into more manageable chunks.
All the areas below are within the Greater iSimangaliso Wetland Park:
- Lake St Lucia
- St. Lucia Village
- St Lucia Crocodile Center
- Maphelana Nature Reseve
- Mission Rocks
- Cape Vidal
- St Lucia Marine Reserve
- Sodwana Bay
- Lake Sibaya
- Mkhuze Game Reserve
- Phinda Game Reserve
- Ndumo Game Reserve
- Tembe Elephant Reserve
Phinda Resource Reserve:
Tembe Elephant Reserve:
Tel: +27 (0)31-2670144
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St Lucia South Africa
One of the seven World Heritage Sites found in South Africa, the Greater St. Lucia Wetland reserve has something for everyone: game viewing in any of the four game reserves, fishing, boating, scuba diving, hiking, horseriding, whale and bird watching. The reserve consists of a stunning variety of unique habitats: lagoons, swampland, mangroves, swamp forests, different types of thornveld and savannah, subtropical coastal forest, dunes and sandy beaches as well as coral reefs offshore.
Cape Vidal South Africa
Set in a sheltered bay and located in the north eastern section of the Greater St Lucia Wetland reserve, Cape Vidal is the perfect place sport fishing, snorkeling, long ealks on the beach and, birdwatching as well as easy access to the stunning wildlife on the easter shores of Lake St Lucia. more >>
Sodwana Bay South Africa
Part of the Greater St Lucia Wetland reserve and located within the Maputaland Marine reserve Sodwana Bay is the place to go Scuba Diving and snorkeling in South Africa... more >>
Mkhuze Game Reserve
Part of the iSimangaliso/Greater St Lucia Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, the Mkhuze Game Reserve is a place of great beauty and high contrasts. With more than 400 recorded species of birds, as well as both white and black rhino, buffalo, elephant leopard, hippo and many species of antelope... more >>
Phinda Private Game Reserve
Situated in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and bordering the iSimangaliso/Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, not far from Hluhluwe National Park is the Phinda Private Game Reserve, It's 7 different habitats shelter a vast array of wildlife including all of Africa’s Big Five as well as cheetah, many species of antelope and over 380 species of birds... more >>
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