St Lucia, about 240 kilometres from Durban in northern
KwaZulu-Natal, forms part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, and
its estuary has one of the highest concentrations of hippos and
crocodiles in southern Africa. What also makes this area magnificent
is that the park is South Africa’s first World Heritage Site and includes
nine per cent of the country’s coastline.
The beautiful beaches, lush coastal forests, dunes, savannas, wetlands,sunsets
over the lake or even the leatherback turtles laying eggs (in summer),
but also the extensive game, birdlife and fascinating scenery.
Eight things to do in St Lucia this Easter Holiday
There is no question that KZN is, and has always been, a year-round preferred beach holiday destination. Northern KZN in particular, with its seemingly endless expanses of golden beaches, warm Indian Ocean, unrivalled snorkelling and diving spots, and close proximity to Big 5 game reserves, really is the holiday destination of choice.
The small coastal town of St Lucia is at the heart of the myriad activities in the region, many of which take place within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
So what can you look forward to while on holiday in St Lucia?
Well, there really is something for everyone.
If it is a quiet, tranquil holiday you have planned, then look no further than Maphelane, the southernmost jewel of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
Its self-catering log cabins and campsites offer a measure of relief from the other, more freely accessible places.
Apart from the beach, Maphelane’s dense coastal forest offers scenic walks and trail running options, including the Sand Dune Trail.
This trail takes you to the high viewpoint which offers sweeping views towards St Lucia in the north.
Where the hippos hog the roads
Within St Lucia town there are many accommodation establishments from which to choose including numerous BnBs and the Sugarloaf campsite at the estuary. From St Lucia there is so much to do and see, that you can pick and choose activities to suit your mood or the weather.
Need to rest?
Wanting for that perfect place to reconnect with yourself? Then we have the place for you! Our Guest Chalets are situated a few kilometers from the N2, on the North Coast of Natal – South Africa; close to the beautiful town of St Lucia. A magical little place named Monzi.
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St Lucia Estuary
Estuary boat cruises are one of the many popular activities in St Lucia and offer close-up sightings of the estuary’s resident crocodiles (of which there are more than 1 200) and hippos (of which there are about 800). These cruises must be booked through one of the tour operators offering this activity.
Because of the presence of crocodiles and hippos, swimming in the estuary is prohibited.
Turtle tours run from November to March, while boat-based whale watching tours are operational between June and late November. Again, these must be booked through one of the tour operators offering these activities.
Hippo and Crocodile Estuary Cruise in St Lucia, South Africa
100% GUARANTEE on HIPPO SIGHTINGS or you get ALL your money REFUNDED!!!!
The best way to explore the St Lucia Estuary is aboard the luxurious double decked passenger ferry, Advantage Cruiser, a legal concession holder within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
Snorkelling at Cape Vidal
For those glorious beach days, a trip 30km north to Cape Vidal is a must. But don’t think it’s just another beach trip for which you can set aside half the day. A full day dedicated to this excursion is essential because you will be driving through the Eastern Shores section of the wetland park, which is a ‘must do’ activity in itself.
From the well maintained tar road towards Cape Vidal are a number of loops and routes taking you through forest areas, skirting around the pans, to viewpoints including Catalina Bay overlooking the Lake St Lucia estuary system and Mission Rocks overlooking the sea.
There are also some hides along the route which provide ample opportunity to spot some of the many resident game and visiting bird life the area has to offer.
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Trail running or walking through glorious coastal forest
Free to do in St Lucia without a guide is the Igwalagwala Trail, which is ideal for birders and photographers. A walk along the St Lucia boardwalk, which takes you along the banks of the estuary, through a forested section and delivers you onto Estuary Beach, offers peace and tranquility, with only the sounds of birdsong and hippo grunting filling the air.
Nature trails in the game park section of the Eastern Shores is ideal for those with a keen eye for flowers, creepy crawlies or just wanting to stretch their legs.
Short walks from Mission Rocks to Bat Cave or Perriers on the Eastern Shores are possible for visitors of all ages, while there are also longer walks requiring more stamina.
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More game in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Just a short drive out of St Lucia is the Dukuduku gate into the Western Shores section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which also boasts excellent game and bird viewing. Here, the uMthoma Aerial Boardwalk leads you through the forest onto a suspended deck overlooking the lake narrows.
Several other viewing decks require a lot less energy to reach, but offer great views and rewarding seasonal game sightings. For those wanting to make sure they don’t miss out on anything to learn about the area, there are specialist birding guided walks offered by some St Lucia tour operators.
Other activities in St Lucia include horse safaris, which can take you either onto the beach or through the game park area, and an educational visit to the
St Lucia Croc Centre.
The Croc Centre houses numerous crocodile species from all over Africa, as well as alligators. Visitors can enjoy a slow walk through the Croc Centre at their own pace or join the educational tour at a minimal cost.
How about a Big 5 experience?
For those wanting to venture a little further afield, about 60km from St Lucia lies the world-renowned Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park. This Big 5 game reserve offers magnificent big game sightings, including elephant, buffalo, lion and rhino, as well as the less frequently seen animals that are high on everyone’s bucket lists, like cheetah and wild dog. If you’re fortunate, you may even spot a lion catching a snooze in a tree.
This trip can be done either as a self-drive day trip, an overnight trip or as a guided trip with one of the tour operators based in St Lucia.
If you opt for the guided day trip, an early start to the day will be well worth it, as you enjoy a beautiful Zululand sunrise over the game reserve. You could also catch some of the nocturnal species making their way back to their dens, while the others make the most of the cool early morning. Breakfast, tea, coffee and a braai lunch are included in the day trip.
If you opt to stay over at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi’s Mpila camp, be sure to take your own supplies as this camp offers only self-catering accommodation and the shop stocks only basic supplies. With only a single strand electric fence to prevent elephant from entering the camp, Mpila is essentially unfenced and all other species traverse it at will.
Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park has magnificent big game sightings, including elephant, buffalo, lion and rhino.
Escape the crowds at Catalina Bay & Mission Rocks
Beautiful sunsets to round off your day. Despite the east coast having the most beautiful and picturesque sunrises, sunsets are also magical and some of the best places to enjoy a northern KZN sunset areSunset Jetty on the St Lucia estuary, Catalina Bay lookout or Lake Bhangazi, both on the Eastern Shores.