The iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a nature reserve in KwaZulu Natal that offers a magical and majestic landscape with beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife and a number of highly enjoyable activities.
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park is one of South Africa's top bird-watching locations with over 482 species of birds being found within the nature reserve. While there are abundant species of birds seen throughout the year, the best time to visit the area for bird-watching is late summer (February - April) as this is when vagrant shore and seabirds abound. There are a number of bird watching walks in and near to the town of St Lucia.
Lake St Lucia is Africa's largest body of fresh water and is home to over 1 200 crocodiles and 800 hippopotami as well as large flocks of water birds including flamingos, pelicans and ducks. Visitors can charter one of three daily 2 hour boat cruises out across the water where they will be able to sit back and watch the playful antics of the hippos splashing in the water. The tours also offer excellent sightings of crocodiles lying basking in the sunshine.
Located just short of 2 hours' drive from the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi safari park and the uMkhuze Game Reserve both offer game viewing of the Big Five of the African wildlife kingdom as well as over 90 other species of mammals. Visitors can enjoy a day trips to the reserves or choose to spend a night at a nearby game lodge.
The St Lucia Crocodile centre is located 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) from the town of St Lucia on the way to Cape Vidal. Home to a number of different species of Crocodiles including Nile, Dwarf and Long-snouted Crocodiles, the centre aims to teach visitors more about these reptiles while they visit the different ponds where the Crocodiles live. At specific times visitors can also watch the Crocodiles being fed.
There are a number of excellent snorkelling and scuba-diving locations in and around the iSimangaliso Wetland area including Cape Vidal, Black Rock and Sodwana Bay, which is rated one of the top ten diving locations in the world. Lake Sibaya offers exciting scuba diving and snorkelling expeditions. During the months from November through to February you can see giant Leatherback Turtles come ashore at night to lay their eggs in the soft white sand.
The Kosi Bay area is considered to be one of the world's top fly-fishing destinations. Other great fishing locations include False Bay. St Lucia is also a fantastic location to go deep-sea fishing and anglers can try their hand at catching marlin, sharks and sailfish.
There are a number of companies in the St Lucia area that offer horse riding excursions through the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Visitors can explore the area on horseback and may even be lucky enough to spot a few game animals.
Once every 15 - 20 years a loggerhead or leatherback female turtle will leave the security of the water and venture onto the shores along the iSimangaliso Wetland Park to lay their eggs. Each year between October and November visitors to the area can take guided game drives out across the beach at night in search of these magnificent animals. Watching these graceful giants manoeuvre themselves and lay their eggs when out of the water is an unforgettable experience.
Each year between June and November humpback whales pass through the area on their way down to the south coast of the continent. Visitors will enjoy spectacular sightings of the whales from shore and can also book a chartered boat out across the waves to get up close and personal with these majestic giants.