Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park

This nature reserve spans a diverse range of coastal, lake, savannah and wetland habitats teeming with hippos, leopards, elephants, antelope, whales and turtles.

Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, or iSimangaliso Wetland Park, is a UNESCO World Heritage site on Kwazulu-Natal’s east coast. It encompasses three different lakes, the bright coral habitats and sand beach of Sodwana Bay, the Lubombo Mountains and swamp forests. Dive with whale sharks, take game and bird watching tours, kayak on the lakes, and angle for Marlin. 

Take a game tour around the Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park for close encounters with hippos, rhinos, lions, cheetahs, elephants, crocodiles and hogs. Observe nocturnal animals on a late night safari through hippo territory. Mhuze Falls Private Game Reserve offers accommodation in the heart of the habitat of lions, rhinos, buffalos, leopards and elephants. 

Bird lovers will enjoy taking long walks around the lakes, where you can spot hundreds of species of waterbirds. See flamingos, predatory eagles and scrub dwelling songbirds. Take a boat tour around the wetlands to spot waterbirds and their crocodile predators. 

See crocodiles feeding and in their infant stages at the park’s Crocodile Centre. The zoo also keeps snakes, tortoises and alligators. 

Come to Greater St. Lucia in November to see loggerhead and leatherback turtles laying their eggs in the soft sand beaches. About 60 to 70 days later hatchlings emerge and can be seen scurrying towards the water. Turtle season runs from November to March. Sign up for a tour for the best chance to see the turtles with a guide.

Relax after your wildlife adventures on the beaches along the coast. Cape Vidal and Sodwana Bay are good swimming beaches and surfing spots, where dolphins and whales can sometimes be seen off the coast. Go scuba diving on the coral reefs off Sodwana Bay to see sharks, tropical fish and turtles. 

Plan to spend a number of days in Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, as there is much to see and do. There’s accommodation throughout the park to suit most budgets. Many lodges and hotels can help book tour operators and rental equipment. The park is roughly 170 miles (275 kilometers) from Durban, and is accessible by car. Rent a 4-wheel drive to enjoy picturesque drives along the beaches.  

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