Exploring iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Having a growing number of travellers preferring cities and urban spaces for leisure and holidays, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park offers a unique country life experience to nature travellers.
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a protected area situated on the east coast of KwaZulu-Natal. It attracts thousands of tourists a year and was proclaimed as South Africa’s first World Heritage Site in 1999.
This place offers activities such as diving in Sodwana Bay, whale watching in St Lucia, night-drives on the eastern and western shores, snorkeling at Cape Vidal, Aquarium Reef and a boat cruise at the Lake St. Lucia.
The area has many activities happening, the Lake St Lucia boat cruise seems to be one of people’s favourite activities. The cruise is a two-hour estuary boat cruise in the shallow waters of the lake. While on the cruise, you get to experience therapeutic sight-seeing along the way.
The lake is a natural habitat to a large number of hippos, crocodiles, and birds such as fish eagles.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park’s Marketing & Brand Officer, Thandi Shabalala, said that the Lake St Lucia boat cruise is an unforgettable experience.
“Cruising on the Lake St Lucia, means that you are cruising on the largest estuarine system in South Africa and Africa as a whole. It is also a Ramsar site, meaning it is a wetland of global importance. As you cruise on the lake, there is a guaranteed sighting of hippos, crocodiles and different water birds,” she said.
Thandi further said that, “There are over 800 hippos in the lake itself, and the reason why they are in such large numbers is that the lake is kept natural, protected and shallow. Hippos can’t swim and that is why they prefer the lake.”
With everything that is offered by areas such as iSimangaliso Wetland Park, there is still a question of whether local people are interested in country life traveling. Here are some of the responses:
“I prefer going to both urban and natural spaces because I get to experience different things. I am a natural lover of cities because I grew up in the city of Johannesburg, so it has made sense for me to experience other city lives. I am not a nature lover, but I love seeing its beauty-hence the remote natural spaces make sense too”.
“I prefer traveling to urban spaces, mainly because I hate being on the road for so long. Remote areas such as game reserves require some serious driving to get there. So I am all for places closer to airports”.
“I am a huge fan of nature, simply because I am fascinated by nature photography and the love I have for open spaces. I spend my spare time in countryside spaces”.
“I am a shopaholic, so I prefer travelling to other cities in different countries. There isn’t a culture of shopping in remote nature spaces and that is why I always opt for international urban traveling”.
iSimangaliso’s Thandi Shabalala said that numbers show that people who visit iSimangaliso Wetland Park are mostly people from outside countries compared to people from the neighbouring countries and South Africa.
“There are more people from outside countries visiting and that it is due to different reasons, one of them is culture. I think as South Africans, we still need to get into this thing of travelling,” she added.