St Lucia Wetlands Park
Turtle Tours and Diving
The 260,000 hectares covered by the St Lucia Wetland Park is home to a diverse number of habitats and wildlife. The Park stretches along the coast from Sodwana Bay in the north to the Mapelane Nature Reserve in the south.
Coastal beaches and sand dunes, wetlands, bushveld, coastal forests and mangrove swamps are all here, as well as South Africa's most southernmost coral reef off the Sodwana Bay coastline, a diving and snorkelling paradise and home to an extremely large number of colourful tropical fish species.
Although the Sodwana reef system may be a mere fraction of the size of the more famous Great Barrier Reef, it is estimated to contain more the two-thirds the amount of fish species - 1,200 in Sodwana as opposed to 1,500. Sightings of whale sharks, ragged tooth sharks, mantas and dolphins are also part of the diving experience here too!
Several local operators offer Turtle Tours. Only 2 breeds of Maputaland turtles lay their eggs on these shores, namely the Leatherback and Loggerhead. Enjoy an evening searching for them returning to their birthplace to lay their eggs and later in the season see the hatchlings making their dash for the ocean. These tours operate from November to February/March only, and are subject to availability and favourable weather conditions.
The Park also incorporates the 38,000 hectare Lake St Lucia, a vast expanse of lake, estuaries and islands. Swimming in the lake is prohibited due to the presence of over 1,500 crocodiles, the largest population in South Africa. Boat trips and cruises are a popular way to sight these formidable creatures, swimming or basking in the sun on the lake shores. There are also nearly 1,000 hippos in the lake as well, and occasionally black fin and Zambezi River sharks can be seen.
Further north along the KZN coastline, on the border with Mozambique, is the Kosi Bay Nature Reserve. Where seawater and fresh water mix, there is an abundance of nutrition for countless species of fish and an equally impressive variety of birds.
Lodge / Inn
Guest Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 based on 4 ratings
Umilo Lodge is a 4* guest house situated in St Lucia, in the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park (also now known as the iSimangaliso Wetland Park). The accommodation consists of 11 air-conditioned en-suite rooms all equipped with refrigerators, hair dryers, tea and coffee making facilities as well as 10 TV channels.
Lodge / Inn
The stunning stone and thatch hilltop lodge offers comfort and hospitality with tastefully decorated rooms and suites that pay tribute to the region's magnificent ethnic heritage.The lodge offers 40 deluxe air-conditioned rooms, all en-suite with separate bath and shower.
Lodge / Inn
Guest Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 based on 3 ratings
12 thatched chalets are dotted around a magnificent indigenous garden, and all are air-conditioned, and have a private balcony overlooking the indigenous garden or bush.There is a network of well lit paths connecting the rooms to the main lodge.
Lodge / Inn
The thatched bush suites are raised on a wooden deck with a beautifully appointed bedroom, and are carefully positioned to provide guests with privacy and an intimacy with the peaceful surroundings.The romantic en-suite bathrooms are open-air, giving guests a truly unique experience.
Guest Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 based on 2 ratings
The camp is set back in and shaded by the sanctuary of the lush coastal forest that covers the ancient dunes that make up the edge of South Africa's north-east coast. It is about a 15 minute walk down to the beach.