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St Lucia: Undiscovered eco-jewel of the east coast of Southern Africa!

A "must" experience when visiting KwaZulu-Natal

Mtubatuba CTO is responsible to assist and monitor all tourism activities in the area. We are blessed with St Lucia town, the only town in the world which is totally surrounded by a world heritage site and what used to be named St Lucia wetland park now named iSimangaliso, South Africa’s first world heritage site.

Quote from Madiba
"iSimangaliso must be the only place on the globe where the oldest land mammal (the rhinoceros) and the world’s biggest terrestrial mammal (the elephant) share an ecosystem with the world’s oldest fish (the coelacanth) and the world’s biggest marine mammal (the whale)"

The name iSimangaliso in Zulu means ‘miracle and wonder’. There couldn’t be a more fitting name to describe iSimangaliso Wetland Park; it is simply miraculous and wondrous.

In December 1999, it was recognised as South Africa’s first World Heritage site, for its’ awe-inspiring natural beauty and unique value in global conservation. And the park is nothing short on unique: 332 000ha of indescribable beauty, containing three major lake systems, eight different ecosystems, South Africa’s largest estuarine ecosystem, some of the last remaining swamp forests in South Africa, 526 bird species and some of the oldest and largest coastal dunes in the world. Unique probably does not begin to describe it. The number of animal species in the park is also unrivalled. There are more than 3400 species including 120 mammals (including elephants, rhino, buffalo, wild dog and hyena), 526 birds, 128 reptiles, 50 amphibians.

The Area

International recognition of the area’s unique bio-diversity and scenic natural beauty resulted in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park becoming South Africa’s first natural World Heritage Site.

Its extent is second only to the Kruger National Park and it has the advantage of being situated on the sub-tropical East African coastline, washed by the warm Indian Ocean. With over three hundred days of sunshine a year, the climate is mild in winter and hot and humid in summer.

Its five main eco systems are very closely intertwined and house more plant and animal species than either the Kruger Park and the Okavango delta.

Little wonder that it was recently proclaimed as one of three destinations in the world with the best sustainable tourism policies.

The Weather

There are more than 300 days of sunshine a year, which means the odds are pretty high that the weather will be great - whatever time of the year you visit. Land temperatures vary between 12 and 35 degrees with humidity always playing a role. The Indian Ocean is always pleasantly warm with temperatures seldom dropping below 21degrees celcius, making baggies “in” and wetsuits “out”. We have prevailing north-east winds throughout the year with rain usually blown in from the south. Summer months can get hot and sticky and winters are normally relatively warm, dry and mild.

St Lucia Village

The quaint little village of St Lucia has more crocodile and hippo permanent inhabitants than humans. It’s home to less than a thousand residents and measures only ten kilometers in circumference. It’s unique in its own right, being the only privately-owned properties in the world that are completely surrounded by a RAMSAR-protected, UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Situated at the mouth of one of the largest estuaries in Africa, the village is nestled into the dunes and completely wrapped in a mixture coastal bush and climax forest. It offers a comfotable retreat and is strategically positioned to act as a hub for access to the many eco- attractions on offer in the region.

The village borders are naturally protected by Lake St Lucia’s estuary, pristine beaches and, if this was not enough, it is complely enveloped by the southern regions of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

The Zulu word “iSimangaliso” means “ place of wonder”. It may be difficult to pronounce but it very susinctly captures the vibe and natural beauty that sets this eco- destination apart. Fortunately, such unique bio-diversity and beauty was recognised internationally and, after a bitter fight over dune mining proposals, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority was established to protect the natural treasures and create a sustainable eco-tourism industry for local entreupeneurs. Ten years on, the site has been proclaimed one of the top three eco- destinations in the world with the best sustainable tourism policies.

In summary, St Lucia can be likened to a natural “chocolate box”, used for the preservation of the many exquisite natural “treats” that abound in the area. They are all individually wrapped and protected by a combination of mother nature and man, working in harmony to preserve our heritage – while at the same time, showcasing them to all who care to venture into our world. We recommend that you buy the whole “box” to experience the full “wonder” and learn to share our very special sense of “place”. The empty box can then be used to wrap your memories to keep them fresh for when you share them with friends and family back home.

Twelve reasons that set St Lucia village apart

  1. “Big Five” experience plus whales, turtles and pristine beaches.
  2. It is malaria-free area.
  3. Five overlapping, inter-dependant eco-systems.
  4. The highest vegitated sand dune in the world.
  5. South Africa’s first natural World Heritage Site.
  6. More than three hundred sunshine days in the year.
  7. Coastal rainfall enables greenery all year round.
  8. Warm ocean currant and kilometers of uninhabited beaches.
  9. A spotlessly clean village that is safe to walk about anytime.
  10. Hippos frequently roam our streets at night.
  11. Although remote, it is easy to access on tarred roads.
  12. Tourism is the only commercial activity in the village.

We are, argueably, the best eco-destination in Africa – if not the world!
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Mtubatuba Community Tourism Organisation