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iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa
Fast Facts
Scuba Diving
Wildlife Park
Market / Fair
Waterway Cruises
Points of Interest Nearby
Family Travel Tips

Kosi Bay


Photo by Maputaland.net

iSimangaliso Wetland Park, formerly Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, is a must see in KwaZulu-Natal. Not only is this World Heritage site home to five distinct ecosystems, marine park meets game reserve at this unique conservation area. Explore Africa's southernmost coral reef. Watch humpback whales from shore. Observe sea turtles - Loggerhead and Leatherback - nest and hatch. Bird in a mosaic of wetlands. View wildlife from a launch, open-air jeep or back of a horse. Spy on nature both day and night. Day hike in subtropical forests, grasslands and lily-covered pans. Trek the multi-day Emoyeni Trail. Fish in just about every way. iSimangaliso Wetland Park may be smaller than the Kruger, South Africa's largest park, and Botswana's Okavanga Delta but it has nothing to envy.
Getting There
iSimangaliso Wetland Park is located in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal. The park stretches 220km (136 miles) along the Elephant Coast from the Mapelana Nature Reserve north to the border with Mozambique. The park spans 234,566 hectares (579,623 acres) and encompasses 13 distinct nature reserves. The village of St. Lucia, the focal point of the park, sits roughly 80 km (50 miles) from Richards Bay and 240 km (150 miles) from Durban. Both major carriers and local low-cost airlines fly to Durban from Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Port Elizabeth. South African Express and South African Airways connect Johannesburg and Richards Bay. The Hluhluwe Tourism Association website provides information on road transfers from both airports. iSimangaliso Wetland Park is accessible from the N2 between KwaMbonambi and Mkuze. A car is necessary to access remote areas of the wetland. A high clearance vehicle is required on some park roads; a 4x4 is a must in the far reaches of iSimangaliso.
Getting Around
This World Heritage Site offers ecotourists a broad range of outdoor experiences. iSimangaliso Wetland boasts two top dive sites; Sodwana Bay and Kosi Bay. The hiking trails at Mission Rocks range in length from 1.5 to 65 km (3 - 40 miles). The mountain bike trails at False Bay and St. Lucia Estuary are all graded green (easy). They vary in length (15 - 25 km or 9 - 15 miles) and surface (sand tracks, dirt paths, gravel and tar roads). Birding is phenomenal throughout the wetland.
When to Travel
The climate in iSimangaliso Wetland Park is subtropical. Summers are hot and humid. Winters are mild and dry. iSimangaliso boasts 300 days of sun. Rain is possible from December to February. Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles hatch and nest on the park's northern sand beaches from November to March. Humpback whales can be seen off the coast from June to December. Scuba diving is possible year-round but conditions are best from April to September. The peak season (December, January, April, and July) coincides with South African school holidays.
Health & Safety
iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a malaria risk area. Precaution is warranted. Swimming is prohibited in all lakes and estuaries and is restricted to rocky coastal areas. Crocs inhabit the inland lakes and estuaries; there are no shark nets on this stretch of the coastline.
  • Malaria & Travelers
Things to Keep in Mind
Take only photographs and memories. An entrance fee is charged to all areas except St. Lucia village. Not all park gates are open 24 hours. Pets are not allowed in the park.
Travel Trivia
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