The Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park or the iSimangaliso Wetland Park as it is now known can be found on the KwaZulu-Natal East Coast. This South African park is South Africa's third largest protected reserve and lies 275 kilometres north of Durban. In December of 1999, the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park becomes a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of the rich diversity of wildlife and fauna and flora in this area.
The word 'iSimangaliso' means 'a marvel' in Zulu and accurately describes the wetland areas which cover a vast area of sub-tropical paradise stretching 220km along the East Coast from Mozambique to the St Lucia Wetlands in KwaZulu Natal.
The Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park, iSimangaliso Wetland Park includes a variety of natural ecosystems including swamps, dunes, forests, sandy shores, reefs, mangrove swamps, grasslands, woodlands and of course wetland areas. Some activities can be enjoyed within the wetland park including game viewing opportunities and birding.
Animals that can be seen in the park include elephant, leopard, black and white rhino, buffalo, whales, whale sharks, dolphins, leatherback and loggerhead turtles, crocodiles and hippos. In the underwater reefs, a variety of brightly coloured fish and corals can be found.
Some towns and reserves can be found within the Great St Lucia area. These include:
Eshowe, Hluhluwe Game Reserve, Mkhuze Game Reserve, Phinda Game Reserve, Pongola Game Reserve and the town of Pongola, Richards Bay, St Lucia Game Reserve, False Bay Park, Kosi Bay, Sodwana Bay National Park, Mapelane Nature Reserve, Maputaland Marine Reserve, Tewate Wilderness Area and Mkuze Game Reserve.
Activities at Great St Lucia Wetlands Park
Within the iSimangaliso Westland Park visitors can enjoy great snorkelling experiences at Cape Vidal, Black Rock and Kosi Bay while Sodwana Bay is a popular South African diving destination.
Kosi Bay, KwaZulu-Natal also offers a fantastic hiking trail with a variety of terrain including grassland, beaches, mangrove forests and rivers. Horse trails are also provided in the plains or on the beach while dolphin and whale watching boat trips can also be arranged in the area.
- The Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park is now named the iSimangaliso Wetland Park
- The park covers a vast area of sub-tropical paradise
- The park stretches 220km along the East Coast of South Africa in KwaZulu-Natal
- The park is home to a wide array of natural ecosystems
- The park contains critical habitats for a range of land and marine species
- The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site