If you want to see giant sea turtles, subtropical corals, dolphins and saw tooth sharks, then the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park along South Africa’s north coast KwaZulu-Natal is a sublime destination. It is even on the list of world heritage sites.
Formerly known as the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, the name has since been changed to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
Here you will find coral reefs, beach and coastal forests, salt and freshwater marshes; open river mouths; lush coastal plains and drier forest areas.
Thick forested coastal dunes, some of which are among the largest overgrown dunes in the world, separate the sea from the land along the 280 km long coast. In this park you go back in time with the sand forests of the fossil-rich, western beaches of Lake St Lucia. Here the sedimentary rocks show an amazingly well-preserved collection of marine fossils of exceptional scientific and geographical significance.
Lake St Lucia
The gigantic Lake St Lucia is in the middle and is one of Africa’s largest freshwater lakes. Make a trip on the lake, find thousands of flamingos, pelicans, waders and other water birds. About 1,500 hippo crocodiles and 900 hippos also live here. It is the largest concentration of crocodiles and hippos in southern Africa. If you are visiting this part of South Africa, book a hippo & croc boat cruise or you may want to spot whales from the boat (whale season runs approximately from May to December).
Excursions in St. Lucia Wetland Park
The town of St Lucia is a popular destination and therefore floods with tourists during vacations. There is a variety of accommodation and other catering establishments. From the largest resort, St Lucia Estruary, various tours are offered to discover the park. North of this village is the Crocodile Center, the best in the country.
Cape Vidal is only 32 km north of St Lucia. This is a beach protected by rocks / stones and has tropical waters and a freshwater lake. Here you can swim, snorkel and scuba dive well. There are various hike options in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, especially in the Eastern Shores (Mfabeni). You can go out on your own or with a guide.
Note: the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a malaria area and there are many ticks and leeches. You must also watch out for crocodiles and hippos. The latter in particular can roam around at night and cause a lot of damage. You can encounter them in remote areas during the day. Then keep your distance and retreat as calmly as possible.