St Lucia, an island in the midst of wilderness
Arriving in St Lucia town is like taking a step back into the wild Africa of old. In this little town the boundaries of development and wilderness are blurred in the most spectacular way. Pedestrians give way to hippos in the streets, cheeky troops of vervet monkeys patrol the neighbourhoods and gardens are fashioned around ancient milkwood and fig trees that attract all manner of hungry birds, while shy duiker or bushbuck peek timidly from the undergrowth. This uninhibited encroachment of natural life into the town is not surprising when one considers that St Lucia is bordered on all sides by expansive wild lands. Lake St Lucia's sinuous reed-lined estuary forms the boundary to the west and south, the town is fringed by the warm Indian Ocean to the east, and to the north, the big game area of iSimangaliso Wetland Park's Eastern Shores section. A veritable Eden.
Things to do in St Lucia
Hippo & Crocodile Boat Safari
The big 6 of the water are all found here: Hippo, Crocodile, Pelican, Flamingo, Fish Eagle and Goliath Heron.
The two hour boat trip cruises slowly on the St. Lucia Estuary 3 to 4 times daily and is equipped with a bar.
Sun-downer cruises are most popular as are morning tours after breakfast.
Night Game Drive Safari
Leopard, African Elephant, Buffalo and Hippo are some of the highlights on a Night Drive Safari.
The park offers the visitor an opportunity to see a variety of animal life associated with a Wetland eco-system as opposed to the bush and grasslands normally found in big 5 game reserves.
The tour departs at 8:30pm and returns at approximately 11:30 pm.
Whale Watching (June - November)
St. Lucia has the highest recorded boat-based whale sightings in South Africa.
The tours are either early morning or later in the afternoon. From June to the end of November the whales frequent the warm waters of the Indian Ocean where mating takes place before calving in the colder waters of the Cape.
Turtle Tours (November to March)
Witness this miracle of nature where the Leatherback and Loggerhead Turtles return to lay their eggs on the very same beach they were born.
The tour includes a night drive in iSimangaliso Wetland Park and is tide dependant.
From November through to mid-January for nesting and thereafter the hatchlings returning to the ocean can be seen for a few months afterwards.
Zulu Cultural Village
En-route to the Hluhluwe game reserve is the Dumazulu Cultural experience. This "living museum" has the distinction of being the only Zulu village that has the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelitini's stamp of approval. The village has approximately 50 Zulu inhabitants which live on the premises and each guided tour has demonstrations of Zulu customs, from witchdoctors to homemade local beer being offered for taste. The highlight is a spectacular Zulu dance which is awesome and vibrant. Lunch is served with a blend of both traditional South African and Zulu cuisine. There is a bar facility as well as a great variety of curios in a well stocked shop.
This magnificent unspoiled beach lies 32 km out of St. Lucia with easy access on tarred road. En-route to Cape Vidal you travel through the iSimangaliso Wetland Park on the Eastern Shores of Lake St. Lucia which abounds in game, especially Rhino close to the road. See the world's highest vegetated sand dunes and walk through sand dune forests with a tremendous variety of birdlife. Snorkel at Cape Vidal in the warm Indian Ocean, sunbathe on clean beaches or try your hand at some surf or fly-fishing. Arrange for a picnic style take-away breakfast with your lodging as tours leave early.
Big 5 Game Reserve Safaris
Depart St. Lucia for a mere 55 minutes drive to the adjoining world famous Hluhluwe/iMfolozi game reserve. Here you can expect to see the big 5 (Elephant, Rhinoceros, Buffalo, Leopard and Lion) especially Rhino, up close, as these reserves have the biggest population of rhino in the world. Enjoy either a South African braai (barbecue) for lunch at a picnic spot in the park or dine at the Hilltop restaurant in Hluhluwe with full bar facilities as well as curio shopping.
Birding in St. Lucia
More than two thirds of South Africa's entire bird population is found in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Early morning or late afternoon outings to explore birds which are rarely sighted in other parts of South Africa are arranged with competent guides. The bird species found in St. Lucia cover a variety of habitat ranging from fauna, flora, wetlands, grasslands, Lake St. Lucia, coastal, forest and migratory. The surrounding nature with abundant birdlife makes St. Lucia a paradise for birding.
Horse riding on the Eastern Shores of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is led by experienced ride-guides. Get close to animals on horseback while exploring nature in a conservation area off limits to the general public. Enjoy bush trails or opt for some beach riding when available. Bhangazi Horse Trails offer rides on the Western Shores of St. Lucia in the False Bay area including overnight horse trails with accommodation which is set up for you in tents along the trail. This outdoor camping experience in a World Heritage Site status park with prolific animal and birdlife is a must for outdoor enthusiasts.
World Heritage Tour
World Heritage Tours on the eastern shores of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park which is situated between Lake St. Lucia and the Indian Ocean. This is a very interesting and detailed ecological tour of the Park which explores the various species in relation to world heritage site status granted to the Park. The tour also takes you to Cape Vidal for some swimming, snorkelling and a traditional braai (barbecue) for lunch. The whole ecology of the park as well as the relation between different species is discussed in detail. Part of the tour is spent game viewing and birding.
Deep-sea fishing in the warm, tropical waters off St. Lucia or Cape Vidal is always an exciting experience with game fish like Dorado, Wahoo, Tuna, King and Queen Fish, King and Queen Mackerel in abundance. Or experience the thrill of hunting Big-game fish like Marlin, Sailfish as well as Shark. Alcohol is not permitted, arrange own sun tan oil, snacks and drinks for the day.