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Maputaland & Isimangaliso Wetland Park
Why Travel Here?

“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).”— President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela​

  • Formerly known as the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, the park stretches from Cape St Lucia in the south to Kozi Bay in the north on the north-eastern coast of KwaZulu Natal. 

  • Considered one of the jewels of South Africa, the park was aptly renamed Isimangaliso Wetland Park in 1997, which means “a miracle” or “something wondrous” in Zulu.

  • It is South Africa's third-largest protected area, spanning 280km of coastline and made up of around 3,280km2 of natural ecosystems.

  • A UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • The original home of the Tsonga people who have lived here for over 1,000 years.

  • Rich biodiversity is created by the great variety of unique ecosystems in the park, ranging from coral reefs and sandy beaches to subtropical dune forests, savannas, wetlands, lakes and swamps. 

  • Famous for a handful of incredibly beautiful areas: St Lucia Wetlands; Sodwana Bay; and the Maputaland Marine Reserve. 

  • The Maputaland Marine Reserve is a biodiversity hotspot of abundant wilderness that extends to the Mozambique border.

  • The reserve preserves a large number of leatherback turtlesnesting in the area, which were dwindling in number due to exploitation.

  • Sodwana Bayis the only scuba-diving area along this strip of coastline and is regarded as one of the top dive sites in the world, with an impressive 50km reef complex.

  • The large underwater reefs are home to colour-changing octopuses and squid.

  • Animals occurring in the wider park include: elephant, leopard, lion, black and southern white rhino, buffalo, hippo, crocodile, whales, dolphins and occasionally, gigantic whale sharks can be seen gliding through the water.

  • The summers are hot and humid and winters mild and pleasant, making the park an ideal beach destination almost all year round. 

Some recommended places to stay
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How to get there

By air
There are regular flights to Pilanesberg airport from Johannesburg. 

By road
Approximately three hours from Johannesburg.

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