St. Lucia Wetlands Park
World Heritage Site
23-30 November 2001

Entrance to St Lucia

Ferries for Estuary Cruises

Viewing hippos in the sunset

Hippos in the Estuary

Closeup of hippos

Beautiful ferns growing wild

Pavement fruitsellers

Upside down piggyback!

The Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park, South Africa's first Natural World Heritage Site is situated along South Africa's East coast (see map). Considered South Africa's third largest Park, it comprises 328,000 hectares with an impressive 280 km of coastline. It starts south of the St Lucia Estuary and stretches north to Mozambique.  Situated in the tropics, on the southernmost portion of the Great Coastal Plains, St Lucia is considered the most definitive Eco-tourist experience.
Lake St Lucia, an 85km Estuarine lake, is filled with over 1000 hippo, several thousand crocodiles, 114 species of fish and 526 species of birds. For some migratory birds, St Lucia is the end of their route, having flown over 18,000km to get here.
St Lucia village, where we went to, is nestled between the Indian ocean and the St Lucia Estuary. This is a fisherman's paradise with daily deep-sea fishing charters in operation. Accommodation facilities can cater for up to 4,500 guests and up to 2,500 campers.
St Lucia was first named in 1554 -"Rio de la Medaos do Ouro" (River of of the sands of gold) by the survivors of the Portuguese ship Saint Benedict.
In 1822 a British expedition under leadership of a Lieutenant Vidal named Cape Vidal, to the north of St Lucia, we also drove up there for a visit.
The ecological significance of the area was realized in in 1897 and on 27 April the area was declared a Nature Reserve.
Although the December-February period is usually quite humid, we were lucky to have quite a few cloudy days with some rain, so the humidity was not unpleasant. We were up and about early every morning going for long walks along the estuary watching the fishermen launch their boats, either to fish in the estuary or head for the deep sea for a day's outing.
We were fascinated by the variety of wildflowers and I made a point of taking pics whenever we saw a different variety.
A highlight of our holiday was the two hour Estuary Cruise where we spotted varied birdlife, hippos and crocodiles
One day we took a drive up to Cape Vidal where 4x4 vehicles with the necessary permits are allowed to drive on the beach and the owners can test their driving skills. Other than that, fishing is the main pastime with some great snorkeling available there as well, with the snorkelers protected by a reef.
We also made the trip to the nearby Hluhluwe Umfolozi Park which is well worth the visit and is heartily recommended...it is not as large as the Kruger Park and the wildlife is more concentrated, we managed to get some great rhino pics...
All along the coastline are sand dunes exceeding 180m in height, these are regarded to be the highest vegetated sand dunes in the world.
This was out first visit to St Lucia, if you are a keen fisherman a holiday here would be the ultimate experience, otherwise, just enjoy the scenery, take long walks and get that much needed rest...
On the way back home we took a detour and visited the Blood River Monument, the site of one of the bloodiest battles between the Zulus and the Voortrekkers or "frontiersmen"

Boardwalk to the jetty

South African Christmas trees

Local fishing boat used for deepsea fishing

Where we stayed, Lakeview Cabanas

Zulu kids singing for the tourists

Guess who???

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