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Greater St Lucia Wetland Park South Africa
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park (formerly known as the St Lucia Wetland Park) is a vast watery wilderness that consists of a large amount of individual reserves, that include South Africa's largest freshwater lake, four wildlife reserves, a coastal forest reserve and a marine sanctuary, where scuba divers get to enjoy the marine life under the surface of the water.
Covering an area of over 2600 sq kilometers (1000 sq miles) just 2 hours from Durban in South Africa it begins at the Maphelane Nature Reserve and moves northwards up the Natal coast to Kosi Bay, with sections right on the border with Mozambique.
The varied habitats, consisting of at least five biomes, each able to support their own unique animal and plant life as well as providing a different wilderness experience means that almost anyone can find what they are looking for.
The wildlife reserves of Phinda, Mkhuze, Ndumo and Tembe will satisfy even the most demanding of African wildlife enthusiasts on safari. Elephant, Lion, Cheetah, Leopard, Buffalo, Rhino, Vervet and Samango Monkey and a whole lot more call these great game reserves their home.
With 526 recorded bird species (at the last count) that include iconic species like the Greater Flamingo, African Fish Eagle, Giant Kingfisher and the Trumpeter Hornbill, it is an excellent location to visit, even if you are here for the birdwatching.
Scuba Diving in South Africa
Sodwana in the northern part of St Lucia is probably the best scuba diving location in South Africa and there are many that put it almost on a par with the Great Barrier Reef in Australia (for scuba diving).
Either out on the sea, testing your strength against the bluefin tuna, on the rocks with the sea spray in your face or the tranquility of fishing in an estuary or lagoon. Fishermen (and women) love to coming to St Lucia.
Hiking & Wilderness Trails
There are also plenty of places to go hiking, with trails of only an hour long to those that take days to complete, spending the nights out in the bush. Guided as well as un-guided options are available, perfect for all types and levels of nature lovers.
Mziki Hiking Trail
The main St Lucia hiking trail is known as the Mziki hiking trail, a three day trail, which is made up of three circular routes, each returning to the trails base camp at Mount Tabor, not far from Mission Rocks. For more see the Mziki Hiking Trail on the Lake St. Lucia Page >>
St. Lucia Estuary Boat Cruises
One of the ways to explore the estuary is by boat with 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.
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, for more information take a look at Canoe Safaris on The Lake St. Lucia page.
Visit the St Lucia Croc Centre
Costs R35 (£3) per adult and R20 (£2) per child
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
For accommodation at the St Lucia Wetland Park, take a look at the individual reserves:
- Accommodation at Lake St Lucia
- Accommodation at Cape Vidal
- Accommodation at Sodwana Bay
- Lake Sibaya Accommodation
- Accommodation at Mkhuze Game Reserve
- Accommodation at Phinda Game Reserve
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 park and other points of interest in the surrounding area.
Phinda Resource Reserve:
Tembe Elephant Reserve:
Tel: +27 (0)31-2670144
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Lake St Lucia
Forming part of the Greater St Lucia Wetland reserve, Lake St Lucia contains a wealth of wildlife, including South Africa's largest population of hippopotamus, crocodiles and more than 530 species of birds. Take a cruise on a boat or stay in a lodge on it's shores.. 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 >>
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 >>
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After your camera, a good pair of binoculars is crucial in getting the most out of your Safari Holiday. So what is a good pair of binoculars? Here is my binocular guide and recommendations >> Binocular Reviews
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