Things to do at St Lucia-iSimangaliso Wetland Park
St Lucia, about 240 kilometres from Durban in northern KwaZulu-Natal, forms part of the iSimangaliso/Greater St Lucia Wetland Park and its estuary has one of the highest concentrations of hippos and crocodiles in southern Africa. What also makes this area magnificent is that the park is South Africa’s FIRST World Heritage Site and includes nine per cent of the country’s coastline.
The iSimangaliso / Greater St. Lucia Wetland Reserve is protected by a number of rules and regulations. When visiting this pristine area, please observe all the necessary regulations, guidelines and notices. This will ensure your continued enjoyment for you and others visiting this magnificent area.
- Kindly observe gate times when entering and leaving any of the entrances in this World Heritage Site.
- Pets are NOT allowed into the iSimangaliso / Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park.
- St. Lucia is in a LOW RISK malaria region. For practical purposes, however, your doctor, pharmacist or local homeopath will be able to recommend a prophylactic.
- Do not litter.
- Do not feed any of the numerous apes or mongooses found in the Park.
- No Jet bikes or Jet skis are allowed in the Park.
- No fireworks allowed in the Park.
- BEWARE of crocodiles around body of fresh water or estuary (including the mouth). Do not wade - it is not safe.
- Sand dunes are ecologically sensitive areas. Please respect the vegetation and life on these dunes.
- All recreational fishing, bait collection, diving or harvesting of shellfish is regulated. Information is available at any Conservation office.
- St. Lucia is a popular deep sea fishing destination. Ensure your boat is properly registered and the necessary guidelines are observed and adhered to.
Birding & Bird Parks
A great variety of birdlife make their home in and around the iSimangaliso / Greater St Lucia Wetland Park and many can be seen on one of the many walking trails.
Situated just thirty minutes from St Lucia is Umfolozi River Lodge & Bird Park, home to large a number of indigenous and exotic birds.
Cape Vidal (Eastern Shores)
Do a day (self drive) or a guided night game drive at iSimangaliso Wetland Park‘s eastern shores. Soak up the sunshine with a day at Cape Vidal, excellent for snorkelling in the protected Rock Pools. View the vast Wetland Park from viewing decks within the park. Drive through the Park to get to Cape Vidal(30km’s), spot the Rhino, buffalo, Zebra, Buck, Hippo’s and many other wildlife in the Park. Carry a picnic, cold drinks and water. Braai facilities are available at Cape Vidal, carry your coal and meat.
Dukuduku Park (Western Shores & Charters Creek
You will find elephants, buffalo, rhino , leopard, giraffe, tsessebe and other antelope species – or sit back and enjoy panoramic views of Lake St Lucia and the Eastern Shore dunes. The following are key attractions at the Park: Picnic Site, Aerial Board Walk, note that fishing at Charters Creek is dependent on WATER LEVELS.
PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF GATE OPENING AND CLOSING TIMES.
Gate opening and closing times
- April to October – 06h00 to 18h00
- November to March – 05h00 to 19h00
Crocodile & Snake Park
The Crocodile Centre was first established to conserve the diminishing numbers of Nile crocodile, but has now expanded into an education centre with curio shop, restaurant, snake display, cycad garden and a variety of other crocodilians.
Guided tours are available with bi-weekly feedings being on Wednesday nights and Saturdays at 15h00. A curio shop and Restaurant is available for your convenience.
For many years St. Lucia’s economy was based on the thousands of anglers visiting the estuary, coast and deep sea fishing grounds. And still today, anglers flock to this paradise to try their luck. St. Lucia is ideal for both the novice and sport fisherman. St. Lucia also has a number of fishing tackle shops to assist in every aspect of angling.
St. Lucia offers anglers deep sea charters to catch game fish and reef fish, specialised fishing charters for marlin, sailfish and sharks and the "Big Five", boat-based spear fishing, shore angling to catch shad, grunter, rock cod and a variety of sharks, salt water fly fishing, kite fishing - July/August, estuary fishing (with or without boat hire) and guided fishing charters.
There is a wide variety of angling areas which stretch north and south of the estuary mouth and onto Lake St. Lucia. Most of the deep sea charters depart from the St. Lucia Ski Boat Club, whereas shore anglers can fish the Mapelane section, St. Lucia mouth to First Rocks, Mission Rocks and Cape Vidal. Estuary fishing is best at Honeymoon Bend and on the main Lake around Charter’s Creek, Fanies Island and False Bay.
Hippo & Croc Boat Cruise
St Lucia Estuary is the largest estuarine system in Africa. The two-hour, 10-kilometre boat cruise operates daily. Experience the beauty of the iSimangaliso /Greater St Lucia Wetland Park on a relaxing two hour boat cruise (three different daily departure times) along the St Lucia Estuary. Learn about the numerous birdlife, hippo and croc to be sighted with educational talks. The boats offer ample space to walk around in and comfortable seats from which to study the beautiful scenery, while being custom built to venture into shallow waters, excellent photographic opportunities are a given.
Horse Riding & Safaris
Explore the wetlands on horseback with a choice of guided horse trails through the iSimangaliso / Greater St Lucia Wetland Park.
Guided excursions are available on the Lake, the Estuary and the rivers. This is a truly unique way to explore the secrets of the Wetlands.
Midnight Tutrtle Tours
Once a year you can see one of nature’s many wonders unleashed when about 500 loggerhead and 150 leatherback turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. It has been perhaps 15 or 20 years since the turtle has felt solid ground beneath her half-tonne body. Her stay will be short but by the time she leaves, 120 eggs will be nestled beneath the sand for two months to recommence this fragile and miraculous cycle.
Entwined in this splendour is a tale of survival in its most brutal form. This delicate prehistoric species will hatch in its hundreds, a few will not even reach the ocean and only a handful will make it to maturity, an estimated 1 in 500 hatchlings.
The turtle nesting’s have formed the basis of a healthy eco-tourism exercise in the iSimangaliso / Greater St Lucia Wetland Park every year. Nature conservation officers and tour operators take tourists during the breeding season for an experience of a lifetime.
(1 June - 30 November)
No experience could be more satisfying than seeing the Humpback whale playfully and acrobatically thrusting its giant body clear out of the ocean - from as close as 50metres - during a well planned tour by Danie of Advantage Charter (SOLE PERMIT HOLDER and ONLY LEGAL boat based whale watching tour operator in St Lucia). The whale watching tour is an unforgettable, unique lifetime experience and not to be missed.
Trails include the Emoyeni-, Mfazana Pans-, Umvubu-, Igwalagwala-, Mpophomeni-, Dugandluvu trail and the Fig Forest Walk. Information on these trails is available at the respective local Wildlife offices and tours are available through the KZN Wildlife Mission Rocks office on Tel: +27 (0)35 590 9002.
Zulu Arts & Crafts
The iSimangaliso / Greater St. Lucia Park is rich in Zulu crafts. The Zulus or “People of Heaven” are famous in many respects. Within St. Lucia there are several markets and curio shops which sell a great variety of curios. These include baskets, mats, carvings, walking sticks, clay pots and locally produced fruit and vegetables, while the world-renowned Ilala Weavers is only a short distance away from town. These modern crafters produce stunning works of art, sought after the world over. Visitors can view the largest collection of Zulu baskets in the world, locally woven lamps and shades, craft manufacture and unique artefacts from across Africa. Shop to the rhythm of African music or enjoy a cold drink on the deck overlooking the yellow African fever trees. Bring your binoculars and view the birdlife, while the children explore the play area.
IsiphaphalaziI Butterfly House
See the displays of indigenous butterfly species and there are walking trails, an interpretation room, tea garden and plant nursery to enjoy while you’re there.
Chane’ Cheese Farm
Stop in at Chané Cheese Farm and Lodge (open Monday to Saturday 09h00 to 15h00) to sample homemade organic cheeses. There’s also a coffee shop that serves breakfast and light lunches and you’ll probably spend a while in the gift shop with its quaint wares. Kids will love the goat-milking opportunities and educational tour.
Horse Riding With Bhangazi Horse Safaris
Horse riding at iSiMangaliso Wetland Parkis a great way to explore the wildlife in the area. Rides take place in the south of the park where you could see zebra, wildebeest, bushbuck, warthog, duiker and impala. Beach rides are also available.
Go for a walk on the iGwalagwala Trail, close to the estuary banks and just a leisurely 1,5-kilometre stroll with a variety of bird spottings including fish eagle, kingfisher, terns and herons. There’s a number of guided trails in the iSiMangaliso Wetland Park and the Iphiva Trail at Iphiva Camp Site in St Lucia is also a favourite (3 hour-walk near the estuary).
Concierge Amanda Smit : 081 271 1576