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25 Things about St. Lucia

St. Lucia, South Africa
  1. There are two St. Lucias in the world worth bothering about - one on the Atlantic Ocean, the other on the Indian. The Caribbean version - a small, lush, tropical-island gem nestled amidst the Lesser Antilles is no relation to our own unique jewel.
  2. Our St. Lucia, on the South African shores of the Indian Ocean, is Africa’s oldest nature reserve, having been designated as such in 1897, and is the largest estuarine system in Africa, spanning some 280km of coastline and some 290 000 hectares of natural ecosystems, including swamps, lake systems, beaches, coral reefs, wetlands, woodlands and coastal forests.
  3. Located on the north-eastern coast of KwaZulu-Natal, the park incorporates the whole of Lake St Lucia, the St Lucia and Maputaland Marine Reserves, the Coastal Forest Reserve and the Kosi Bay Natural Reserve, as well as the 40 0000-hectare Mkuzi Game Reserve.
  4. St Lucia was the first area in South Africa to be declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
  5. UNESCO’s website says of St. Lucia: 'The ongoing fluvial, marine and aeolian processes in the site have produced a variety of landforms, including coral reefs, long sandy beaches, coastal dunes, lake systems, swamps, and extensive reed and papyrus wetlands. The interplay of the park's environmental heterogeneity with major floods and coastal storms and a transitional geographic location between subtropical and tropical Africa has resulted in exceptional species diversity and ongoing speciation. The mosaic of landforms and habitat types creates breathtaking scenic vistas. The site contains critical habitats for a range of species from Africa's marine, wetland and savannah environments'. Phew.
  6. Former President Nelson Mandela put it rather better when he said, in 2001: 'The St. Lucia Wetlands Park is the only place on the globe where the world's oldest land mammal (the rhinoceros) and the world's biggest terrestrial mammal (the African elephant) share an ecosystem with the world's oldest fish (the coelacanth) and the world's biggest marine mammal (Blue Whale)'.
  7. The country now boasts six other such Heritage sites. Internationally, there are 812 World Heritage sites, in 137 countries. The other South African sites are Robben Island, the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape, the Cradle of Humankind, the uKhahlamba Drakensburg Park, the Vredefort Dome and the Cape Floral Region.
  8. The entire area, covering 842 square miles, comprises the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Area and is centred about 250km north of Durban on Lake St. Lucia itself.
  9. The town of St. Lucia as the tourism epicentre is approximately 30km to the east of the N2 north/south main tourist route.
  10. The area was named St. Lucia in 1575, when the Portuguese explorer Manuel Peresterello came ashore on the feast of St. Lucy. Over 25 000 years old, Lake St. Lucia is 21 kilometres wide and about 65 kilometres long and is only about two metres deep, yet is incredibly rich in its ecologically diversity and vitally important to the surrounding flora and fauna.
  11. With its lakes, lagoons, freshwater swamps and grasslands, St. Lucia supports more species of animal than the better-known Kruger National Park.
  12. The Reserve incorporates an astonishing variety of habitats ranging from the mountains to grasslands, forests, wetlands, mangroves and vegetated dunes, with magnificent beaches and coral reefs.
  13. The area is home to South Africa’ largest populations of hippopotamuses and crocodiles, and offers four out of South Africa’s famous Big Five mammals, as well as over 20 000 greater and 40 000 lesser flamingoes.
  14. The most dangerous animal in Africa? Surprisingly, not the lion or crocodile. In fact, more people are killed by hippos than any other wild animal, either by being trampled to death or having their boat capsized. These giant herbivores can weigh up to 3 200 kilos. Swimming in the Lake is naturally prohibited for obvious reasons.
  15. More than 529 species of birds also inhabit the wetlands and other areas of the lake region.
  16. Giant Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles breed here from October through April, and Southern Right whales can be seen from June to December.
  17. St. Lucia is also a legendary sport-fishing destination, offering game and bill fishing as well as rock and surf, fly and spear fishing.
  18. Tourists delight in the unique hippo cruises as well as the pristine walking trails, kayaking safaris and game viewing opportunities in this sub-tropical paradise, whilst the wide, unspoilt beaches protected by high sand dunes are perfect for more leisurely sun bathing, picnics, and relaxing walks.
  19. Accommodation options range from camping to private game lodges, and a mix of hotels, flats and chalets can be booked in St Lucia itself or nearby Cape Vidal, Charters Creek, False Bay Park, Fanies Island, and Mapelane by contacting the St. Lucia Tourism and Publicity Association,
    Postal: P.O. Box 3, St Lucia Estuary, South Africa.
    Phone: 27 (035) 590 1247
    Fax: 27 (035) 590 1560.
  20. One of my favourite places to stay is Makakatana Bay Lodge, situated within the Park itself. The privately owned and run lodge is set in dune forest that bursts out over a wetland onto the banks of the lake. Hippo and other wildlife often wander through the lodge, underneath the walkways. The accommodation is luxurious and sleeps 12 people in 6 individually set rooms with full amenities.
    Phone: 27 (035) 550 4189.
  21. Also try the self-proclaimed ‘gateway to the Elephant Coast’ (as Kwa Zulu-Natal now refers to this area), 'Hippo Hideaway', situated on the banks of the St. Lucia Estuary near the Greater Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve. It’s an idyllic luxury self-catering lodge comprising 20 luxury air-conditioned rooms, each with its own fully self-contained kitchen.
  22. There are four camping sites available in the Reserve and for bookings or enquiries there contact KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation,
    Postal: P.O. Box 13069, Cascades 3202, South Africa
    Phone: 27 (033) 845 1000
  23. Fancy some game viewing with a difference? Try a unique horseriding trail at Monzi, only 16km from the town of St. Lucia where a gentle ride through the grassy plains and dune foothills of the Eastern Shores of the St. Lucia lake system will enable you to encounter wild game well off the beaten track and away from the distractions of the vehicles and people.
    Contact Eastern Shores Horseback Safaris
    Phone: 27 (035) 550 4438 / 5036
  24. The human population is far outstripped by the animal population, and it has been estimated that there are only around 80 000 people living in the entire area.
  25. The South African government has announced its intent to prepare an integrated development and land-use planning strategy for the entire region. Under the Lebombo Spatial Development Initiative, the governments of South Africa, Swaziland, and Mozambique aim to create even more tourism to the area, using the St. Lucia Park as the core. Show your support by planning your next trip right now.

Article courtesty of South African Magazine Article by Michael Jackson

Car Hire St. Lucia

In order to meet all your rental requirements the Avis Richards Bay customer service centre will deliver your rental car to St Lucia for an additional charge.In order to meet all your rental requirements the Avis Richards Bay customer service centre will deliver your rental car to St Lucia for an additional charge.

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