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iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Travel Guide Africa South Africa Kwazulu-Natal iSimangaliso Wetland Park

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Introduction

iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a park in the South African province of Kwazulu-Natal. It is the country's third largest protected area, covering 3,300 square kilometres of natural habitat. The park was previously known as the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, but was renamed effective 1 November 2007. The word isimangaliso means "a miracle" or "something wondrous" in Zulu. The name came as a result of Shaka's subject having been sent to the land of the Tsonga. When he came back he described the beauty that he saw as a miracle. The park is due to be integrated into atransfrontier park, the Ponta do Ouro-Kosi Bay Transfrontier Conservation Area, straddling South Africa, Mozambique, and Swaziland. This is in turn planned to become a part of the greater Greater Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area.

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Geography

The park extends over highly varied terrain and areas, with several smaller provincial and private game reserves and farms included within its boundaries.

iSimangaliso is well known for its extensive wetlands, sand dunes and beaches, with large herds of game, visiting whales in the winter months (May to October), rafts of hippopotami and sun-basking crocodiles.

Mammals and reptiles that are regularly seen include Lion, African Wild Dog, Elephant, Green-backed Turtle, Leather-backed Turtle, Hippopotamus, African Rock Python, Mocambican spitting Cobra, Gaboon Viper, Forest Cobra, Water Monitor, Nile Crocodile, Leopard, Spotted Hyena, Samango monkey, White or Square-lipped Rhinoceros, Black or Hooked-lipped Rhinoceros, Cheetah, African (Cape) Buffalo, Waterbuck, Kudu, Nyala, Bushbuck, Grey duiker, Steenbuck, Red Duiker, Suni Antelope, Four-toed Elephant Shrew, Common Reedbuck, Blue Wildebeest, Burchells (Plains) Zebra, Giraffe, Water Mongoose.

Over 526 bird species have been seen. For bird-watching tourists some of the special birds include Great White Pelican, Pink-backed Pelican, Rufous-bellied Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, Yellow-billed Stork, Lesser Flamingo and Greater Flamingo, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, Southern Banded Snake-Eagle, Crested Guineafowl, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Lesser Jacana, Caspian Tern, Livingstone's Turaco, Green Malkoha, Swamp Nightjar, Mangrove Kingfisher, African Broadbill, Eastern Nicator, White-throated Robin-Chat, Brown Scrub-Robin, Bearded Scrub-Robin, Rudd's Apalis, Woodwards' Batis, Short-tailed Pipit, Rosy-throated Longclaw, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Neergaard's Sunbird, Green Twinspot, Pink-throated Twinspot, and Grey Waxbill.

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Sights and Activities

Most importantly for tourists, iSimangaliso Wetland Park provides opportunities for self-managed activities and guided activities by local service providers, lodges and guides. For budget or cost conscious travellers, most terrestrial activities can be done without assistance, including driving and walking safari's in the various parks and reserves within the boundaries of the Greater Park region. This includes day walking trails, swimming at the various beaches and overnight or multi-day hiking trails.

Areas with dangerous game (the Big-5 plus hippopotamus and crocodile) are sign-posted and walking activities may be restricted. Remember to check with the relevant park authority.

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Opening Hours

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Cost

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Getting There and Around

Follow the N2 from Durban northwards. You will have to turn right after around 250 km, 50 km before the town of Hluhluwe. The town of St Lucia is more or less the entrance to the park.

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Eat/Drink

The town of St Lucia offers a number of restaurants.

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Sleep

Plenty of camping nearby at Cape Vidal and in the town of St Lucia.

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This is version 5. Last edited at 11:10 on Sep 12, 17 by Utrecht. 6 articles link to this page.

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