Or, by it’s proper name as of 2007: iSimangalisa Wetland Park.
ISimangalisa is what is known as a ‘transfrontier park’ that spreads across international borders, as its name suggests, and spans 3280 km2 of ecosystem (land and water) in South Africa, Swaziland, and Mozambique. The park is South Africa’s third-largest nature reserve as well as its very first World Heritage site.
Known for its aquaphilic wildlife, iSimangalisa is home to hippos, crocodiles, flamingoes, ducks, waders, and dozens of coral reef fish. Between June and November, whales can be spotted off the coast; loggerhead and leatherback turtles can be found nesting on-shore between November and March. Of course, we arrived in April when the largest animal attractions are seasonally elsewhere. Other highlight stops among the 10 Jewels feature big game – buffalos, elephants, rhinos, leopards, giraffes, and (since December 2013) lions. We were holding out for Kruger Park, however, to see these landlubbers. It was water we were after.
After pulling up at long last to the Saint Lucia Estuary and Cape Vidal, our team took a quick trek to the sea. Yet as a massive storm rolled in, and the park hours threatened to close, our wildlife spotting was limited to this small band of pelicans against the gathering clouds.
Better luck next time. This is only a Taster Trip after all.