Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park is situated in the southern end of the Mozambican coastal plain, adjacent to the towns of St Lucia, Mtubatuba, Hluhluwe, Mkuze, Mbaswana and Manguzi. The park is considered South Africa’s third largest park, and stretches from Mapelane in Cape St Lucia in the south, to Kozi Bay in the north. In 1999, the park was granted World Heritage Site Status by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
In view of fauna and flora, the park serves as an intermediary zone between the temperate species of the south and the tropical species of the north. The wetland sanctuary is home to the largest population of hippopotamus and approximately 1,000 crocodiles; alongside numerous other species of fauna and flora.
The Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park incorporates Lake St Lucia, the St Lucia and Maputaland Marine Reserves, the Coastal Forest Reserve and Kosi Bay Nature Reserve. The park boasts 280km (175ml) of well-preserved coastline; and covers a surface area of 328 000 hectares.
Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park encompasses an opulent assortment of habitats; ranging from marine systems such as coral reefs and beaches; coastal forests such as salt marshes, and the estuarine waters of Lake St Lucia itself; and more.
The largest mammal found in the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park is the humpback whale and the African elephant on land. Other mammals include buffalo, rhinoceros, zebra, eland and kudu. Safari on horseback is an extraordinary experience for sighting wildlife.
Of immense fascination is the incredible array of birdlife hosted by the St Lucia Wetlands. Over 500 species of birds inhabit the wetland sanctuary on a permanent or transitory basis; among which are marine, wetland and forest birds. The park is also home to the most extensive variety of frogs, whose choruses usually resonate at night or on gloomy rainy days. The highly endangered gaboon adder and a large variety of other snake species reside in this sub-tropical coastal dune forest. Other reptiles, such as the marine turtles, the leatherback turtle and loggerhead turtles, utilise the protective beaches of the St Lucia Wetlands Park to breed in November of each year.
The St Lucia Wetlands Park is of considerable interest to visitors in Kwazulu Natal; and affords a lavish range of interesting activities; including boating and bird-watching, scuba-diving, hiking, just to mention a few. The park also affords formidable photographic opportunities.