ISimangaliso Wetland Park is situated on the east coast of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, about 275 kilometres north of Durban.
This is South Africa’s third-largest protected area, spanning 280 km of coastline, from the Mozambican border in the north to Mapelane south of the Lake St. Lucia estuary, and made up of around 3,280 km² of natural ecosystems, managed by the iSimangaliso Authority. The park includes:
Lake St. Lucia
St. Lucia Game Reserve
False Bay Park
Lake Etrza Nature Reserve
St. Lucia Marine Reserve
St. Lucia Marine Sanctuary
Sodwana Bay National Park
Mapelane Nature Reserve
Maputaland Marine Reserve
Tewate Wilderness Area
Mkuze Game Reserve
Previously known as the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, Isimangaliso was South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, declared in recognition and celebration of its superlative natural beauty and unique global value.
The name itself means “wondrous” in Zulu which aptly describes this unique place. 275 km north of Durban the park covers 280km² of pristinely breath-taking Indian Ocean coastline.
Isimangaliso has incredibly diverse offerings for visitors – from coastal forests, some of the most beautiful and well-preserved coral reefs left in the world, endless sandy beaches, savannahs and wetlands.
The park is home to a healthy Nile crocodile population of around 1200 crocs, more than 800 hippos and in 2013 African Lions were reintroduced to the park as part of the rewilding project.
In addition to these remarkable creatures giant Leatherback turtles, black rhino, leopards, and a vast array of bird and marine life are also thriving in what is the third largest protected area in South Africa.
The wetlands also provide the spectacular backdrop to the beauty of 20 000 greater flamingos, 40 000 lesser flamingos and large flocks of pelicans.
Isimangaliso Wetland Park is ideal for the avid eco-tourist with a thirst for adventure, wildlife and pristine natural surroundings.
Boat based whale watching, night time turtle tracking, game drives, croc and hippo spotting from a boat cruise on Lake St Lucia, canoeing, bird watching and horse riding – to name only some of the amazing adventures that await.
The sublimely beautiful coastal waters also offer perfect opportunities for diving, snorkelling, fishing and spotting dolphins playing in the surf.
The park stretches from Kosi Bay, close to the Mozambican border in the north, down to Cape St Lucia in the South. Some of the world’s highest forested sand dunes are sandwiched between the warm Indian Ocean coast and the St Lucia estuary.
From game reserves to exploring dazzling coral reefs, lakes and estuaries to lazy beach days – Isimangaliso is an African paradise that will take your breath away.
Where to stay
Thonga beach lodge
This intimate, luxury lodge is nestled on the pristine coast of Northern KwaZulu-Natal, within the Isimangaliso World Heritage Park. It’s clear, warm waters offer superb snorkelling and unspoiled off-shore scuba diving, arguably the best in South Africa.
Air conditioned suites, mouth-watering cuisine, and romantic candlelight dinners on the beach and relaxing Sea Spa treatments. Guided forest walks, kayaking, sun downers and seasonal turtle tracking.
Makakatana bay lodge is the only privately owned lodge set on the banks of Lake St Lucia, KwaZulu Natal, SA within the Isimangaliso Wetland Park world heritage site. It is 3 hours’ drive North of Durban & easy driving. The Lodge has 6 rooms with only 12 guests, offering guests privacy & intimacy during their stay at Makakatana.
The full day boat safari is the benchmark activities offered at the lodge where guests are take on a private boat to experience the Estuary seeking out hippo, crocodile & incredible birdlife.
After the boat trip guests enjoy a picnic lunch & game drive enroute home. The other activity that is a must is the Beach safari & exploration of the Eastern shores reserve.
Mseni Beach Lodge is nestled along the pristine coastline of Sodwana Bay. We offer a restaurant with sea view and in season, Humpback Whales can be seen splashing about, whilst you enjoy a delicious meal or cocktail.
Many activities are available in the area snorkelling, scuba diving, beach walks and visits to the surrounding game reserves. Mseni means “place of happiness” and our friendly staff are ready and waiting to make your holiday a memorable one.
Sodwana Bay Lodge comprises a host of privately owned thatched lodges including 2 and 4 sleeper, non-self-catering serviced units.
The lodges include DSTV, Aircon, Bar Fridge and en-suite showers. On-site facilities include; fishing whale watching scuba diving, restaurant, swimming pool and bar. Accommodation rates include dinner, bed and breakfast and generally exclude lunch and other extras.
Bayala Private Safari Lodge and Camp is a newly renovated family oriented lodge situated 3 hours’ drive north of Durban’s King Shaka airport. Bayala is nestled within non-malaria, Big 5 private conservancy of close to 30,000 ha of unspoiled wilderness.
View lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo and rhino amongst beautiful zebra, giraffe and various other plains game with one of our experienced rangers on an open safari vehicle. Bayala Safari Lodge and Camp are within a short drive of each other.
Safari Lodge and Camp each have 24 comfortable thatch-roofed en-suite rooms decorated with neutral bushveld colours throughout.
Safari Lodge boasts a beautiful and restful lounge, a rustic bar and relaxed, informal dining inside or outside, where our chefs produce a line-up of dining experiences, from a traditional “braai” under the stars to delicious hot and cold full English breakfasts and lunches served in the lodge or on the veranda.
Anew Hotel Hluhluwe & Safaris – Luxury Set in the Heart of The Zulu Kingdom. Rich in natural ambience and with a distinctively African rhythm, Protea Hotel Hluhluwe & Safaris treats guests to luxurious accommodation, tantalising cuisine, and a world-class service with friendly staff who live the motto “hospitality is our game”.
The Protea Hotel Hluhluwe & Safaris encourages visitors to leave the modern world behind and to embark on a discovery … The untamed beauty of Kwazulu Natal’s Elephant coast and the neighbouring wildlife reserves have created a vibrant eco-system of unrivalled diversity.
Soak up the sun at the swimming pool terrace and feel the cultural richness in the evenings whilst sipping on a refreshing sun downer and watching the Zulu dance shows beneath the magnificent Umkanyakude (Fever) Tree.
At Anew Hotel Hluhluwe & Safaris, you’ll discover the wild nature of Africa, rejoice in the luxury and revel in the friendly warmth of one of Africa’s most welcoming hotels!
Ghost Mountain Inn
At the foot of the legendary Ghost Mountain lies the privately owned 4 Star Ghost Mountain Inn, a perfect setting for taking time out to relax and experience the charms of Africa in comfort and style.
This intimate and beautiful hotel is in the heart of South Africa’s Zulu Kingdom and is the ideal location from which to explore the array of wildlife and coastal reserves in northern KwaZulu Natal. Relax in one of tastefully appointed, en suite bedrooms or take in the golden African sunset from your very own garden patio.
The Inn provides good food and friendly service either in the air conditioned restaurant or on the terrace overlooking the expansive grounds and indigenous gardens.
Nature enthusiasts will appreciate the abundance of wildlife and the scenic splendours of this rich and diverse region, either as a self-drive or In the company of Ghost Mountain Safaris’ knowledgeable rangers.
Safari offerings include game drives and hikes in Mkhuze and Hluhluwe game reserves to see the big five, boat cruises and tiger fishing on Lake Jozini, Zulu cultural excursions and acclaimed birding in one of Southern Africa’s top birding destinations with over 450 species. Escape and be pampered at the Ghost Mountain Spa.
Offering a range of treatments utilising organic eco certified African skincare products, a steam room, relaxation area with private plung pool, healthy lunches and an exercise facility for the more actively-inclined.
For those travelling to southern Mozambique, or between Kruger Park, Swaziland and Durban, Ghost Mountain Inn makes an excellent stopover or memorable getaway.
Zululand tree lodge
Set in the cool, whispering tranquillity of a fever tree forest, the Tree Lodge is a truly special retreat where you will be accommodated in luxurious stilted chalets.
Enjoy the quiet lounge, observation deck and a sunny pool area where you might be visited by a family of warthog, a shy Red Duiker or a pair of Purple-crested Loeries.
Accommodation at Zululand Tree Lodge consists of thatched chalets raised above the floor on stilts, set in the cool tranquillity of a fever tree forest.