This is one of the few destinations where a visitor can see the ‘Big Five’ before breakfast, watch dolphins and whales before lunch, explore the depths of the ocean in the afternoon and go turtle tracking after dinner. Stretching from the iMfolozi River in the south to the Mozambique border in the north, this region is easily accessible from Durban as well as Swaziland, Mozambique and Mpumalanga. There are dozens of game reserves, beautiful beaches, deep sea fishing and diving on several reefs, mountain trails, cultural activities and historical sites. In addition to the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park there are several private game reserves in the region that superb safari experiences, many of them home to a number of species of antelope as well as large populations of elephant, buffalo and giraffe, and predators such as the lion, cheetah and the elusive leopard.
The Kosi Bay Nature Reserve is an unspoiled area surrounding the rare and beautiful Kosi Bay lake system and is a tropical paradise of crystal-clear water, marshland, swamp and coastal forests that is home to about 250 species of bird. The pristine beaches in the region are the nesting ground of sea turtles that come to shore between the months of November and January to lay their eggs – hatching occurs between January and March. This is a memorable sight and one that is closely monitored by resident researchers, fortunately there are several lodges in this area which offer guests this opportunity… as well as the privilege of being just a short stroll from beach or tucked into the coastal forest surrounded by bird calls.
The town of St Lucia, located on the shores of the St Lucia Estuary and surrounded by the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, is home to resident hippo that occasionally roam the streets as well as a wide diversity of birdlife. A walk along the iGwalaGwala Forest trail with a local birding guide (ask for Themba Birding) is a most rewarding birding experience and will have you adding numerous ticks to your birding list. With its lakes, lagoons, freshwater swamps and grasslands, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park supports more species of animal than many of the better-known parks and deltas in Southern Africa. Whale watching is a popular activity, when from June to November the humpback whales migrate from their summer feeding grounds close to the poles, to warmer water for winter breeding. Other activities include game viewing, lake cruises, walking trails, horseback trails and canoe trips.
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did you know?
The Zulu name for hippo is Imvubu which means ‘river horse’. This thick-skinned, hairless and barrel-shaped mammal grazes on water grass in rivers and lakes and on the lush grass on riverbanks and plains, much like the equestrian version. But unlike a horse the hippo is a dangerous animal killing an estimated 500 people per year in Africa.