St Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal
The coastal village of St Lucia, named by the Portuguese explorer Manual Perestrello in 1575, is the gateway to the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park. In the early days this area was known as "River of the Sands of Gold" and its not hard to see why. This area achieved World Heritage status in 1999 and incorporates Mkuzi (a Big 5 reserve), Sodwana Bay (a world famous scuba diving destination) and Kosi Bay (a natural paradise).
Close by you will also find the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve, home to the Big 5 and the largest population of rhino in the world. This is one of the oldest Game Reserve's in South Africa and unusually for game reserves provides has a hilly terrain providing some useful vantage spots for game viewing. There are a number of dirt roads for visitors to drive around or perhaps more ecxitingly you could take one of the guided walks which last 2-3 hours.
There are ecosystems and a unique biodiversity which are found nowhere else on earth, it is not hard to see why the earliest name for St Lucia, given by Portuguese explorers, was "River of the Sands of Gold".
St Lucia boasts 300 sun-filled days a year the area with magnificent sub-tropical forests, grasslands and lily-covered pans which abound in animal life. Lake St Lucia has over 12km of self-guided trails extending all the way to the Indian Ocean. Visitors can explore these by means of a boat safari, bringing you into close proximity with hippos lazing in the waters and crocodiles basking in the sun on the estuary's banks. You can spot Pelicans and also Goliath Herons stabbing at fish in the lake.
The natural and unspoiled coastline has golden beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see, lapped by warm blue waters from the Indian Ocean and framed by the huge vegetated sand dunes. Its common to see whales and schools of dolphins off this beautiful coastline. This area is also the natural breeding habitat for the both the leatherback and loggerhead turtles. If you are into big game fishing then these waters are perfect as the much sought after marlin are landed here. The warm currents from Mozambique attracts an array of colourful tropical fish that feed off the coral reefs here.
Take a horse-riding trip along the stunning beaches of St Lucia which has literally kilometres of pristine white sand alongside the stunning Indian Ocean. Between May to November you have a good chance of seeing Humpback Whales breaching as they head up to their breeding grounds off Mozambique. However all year round you have a good chance of spotting dolphins or seeing hippos relaxing in the St Lucia Estuary.
Places to eat in St Lucia
The Ocean Sizzler - a family owned and run restaurant on the western shore very popular after dark. Serving a varied menu of greek dishes, seafood, meat and delicious cakes. Open for breakfast from 08h00 to 11h00 and for dinner from 11h00 to 21h30. Contact Details: +27 (0)35 590 1554)