iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Top choice in The Elephant Coast

Cape Vidal, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, KwaZulu Natal Province, South Africa

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iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a sprawling, diverse ecosystem comprised of hundreds of kilometres of beaches, lakes, wetlands and forests to explore. The size of the park can be intimidating, but it is well worth taking the time to explore this verdant wonderland from top to bottom.

Loggerhead and leatherback turtles nest along the park’s shores; whales and dolphins can be spotted offshore and the park is occupied by numerous animals, including antelopes, hippos and zebras. The ocean beaches pull big crowds during the holiday season for their beach and water activities, from diving to fishing.

Within the park, Lake St Lucia is Africa’s largest estuary. Despite its past healthy water levels, the area is currently being ravaged by drought. Efforts to revitalise Lake St Lucia have been successful, with a large portion of the lake being filled in with fresh water in 2017, but the battle is ongoing. Drought conditions have caused some attractions in the wetlands park, including Fani's Island, to close, so call ahead before planning your visit.

iSimangaliso means ‘Miracles’ and indeed, given its extraordinary beauty, it’s an appropriate title.

There’s a wonderful range of accommodation, from camping to private lodges and excellent options managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. These must be booked at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife with 48 hours’ notice. Less than 48 hours before, try your luck ­directly with the lodges and campsites.

Separate sections of the park have their own opening hours and entrance fees.