Recently renamed the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, the St. Lucia Wetland Park covers 240,000ha, with a further 84,000ha in, on or under the sea. This large chunk of subtropical paradise stretches 220km along the East Coast from St Lucia all the way up to the Mozambique border.
As well as a mind-blowing range of natural systems, ranging from dune, swamp and coastal forests to rocky and sandy shores, coral reefs and submarine canyons, mangroves, savanna grassland, thickets, woodlands, and the largest protected wetland in southern Africa, it is a culturally fascinating area and - more importantly - has immense fun potential. Game viewing opportunities range from self-drive to luxury lodges, and the birding is awesome. You can paddle on the various lakes, checking out hippos, birds and game on the shore.
The snorkelling at Cape Vidal, Black Rock and Kosi Bay is great and, if you're a more serious diver, Sodwana Bay is still the most popular diving destination in the country. For a more exclusive dive experience you can head up to Rocktail Bay or Mbibi.
The hiking trail at Kosi Bay offers terrain ranging from grassland, beach and mangrove forests to mysterious waterways. You can do a short or multi-day horse trail, watch mama turtles laying eggs or baby turtles hatching on the beach, or go out in a boat to see dolphins and humpback whales.
Community run trails offer the opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the area, as well as get a handle on the history and culture of this fascinating corner of our country. You shouldn't miss out on seeing the traditional fish traps, which have been handed down from father to son for hundreds of years. There are also a couple of traditional villages and loads of craft outlets.
Note: If you are planning to travel to the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park and Kosi Bay, please be aware that this region is malarial. Consult your doctor or travel clinic for advice and refer to our article on malaria.
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