Sho’t left to KZN’s North Coast
Did you know that there were 332 thousand hectares of land filled with robust vegetation, flabbergasting views, and amazing wildlife, just up the North Coast of KZN?
iSimangaliso Wetland Park is the second oldest protected area in the world and South Africa’s 1st world heritage site. It was named after its superlative natural beauty, with a history so profound it never ceases to amaze.
The weather on the North coast complements the park in so many ways. With the whole landscape being bathed in the warm glow of the rising sun every morning, fresh air filling one’s lungs with an exhilarating finish. The site visit is breath-taking and captivating.
iSimangaliso is home to the Big Five, hippos, crocodiles, wildebeests, bucks, warthogs and many more, not forgetting humans too of course. It’s truly staggering how the relationship between the people of St. Lucia and the wild animals portrays unity, love, and understanding. The beauty of watching the gentle giants be in sync with the people is out of this world.
There have been very few incidents of animals attacking people but it always seems to be a case of a mere misunderstanding. This highlights the kind of affiliation shared between the animals and the people.
The marketing and brand officer of iSimangaliso, Thandi Shabalala, is one of the people who left the city life for the ‘bush life’. She took us on a journey through the park. Her aura, so gentle, so kind, much like all the people of iSimangaliso. Watching her so passionately unfold the history of the park-like trees blooming in spring is fascinating.
“When the park was proclaimed as a Heritage site it was called The Greater St Lucia Wetland Park and we couldn’t keep the name because there’s a St Lucia in the Caribbean already. The Park authority in consultation with the community decided to name it iSmangaliso,” said Shabalala.
The name iSimangaliso can be loosely translated to something miraculous and what a befitting name for such a beautiful and enchanting place.
Amongst the many aspects that make iSimangaliso unique, is the fact that it has some of the biggest sand dunes which are rich in minerals, mainly Titanium.
“Our sand dunes are rich in Titanium and years ago, big companies wanted to mine the dunes, but residents and other organisations opposed the idea. This park is a protected area, which means it must be kept as natural as it is so that tourists can also experience the beauty of this nature.”
Shabalala added that the people of iSimangaliso are big on conservation.
The place attracts tourists from all over the world who are mesmerized by the beauty of iSimangaliso.