iSimangaliso Wetland Park
World Heritage Sites in South Africa

© Roger de la Harpe

iSimangaliso at a Glance

‘The Wetland Park must be the only place on the globe where the world’s oldest land mammal (the Rhinoceros) and the world’s biggest terrestrial animal (the Elephant) share an ecosystem with the world’s oldest fish (the Coelacanth) and the world’s biggest marine mammal (the Whale).’ - Nelson Mandela

Cape Vidal in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a KwaZulu-Natal institution. Offering a unique bush, beach and town combination, it’s a family favourite.

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park was declared South Africa’s first World Heritage Site in 1999 and recognizes its global value as a place with great natural beauty, important biodiversity and a site of vital ecological processes.

The 332,000 hectare park contains three major lake systems, eight interlinking ecosystems, a 700-year-old fishing culture, most of South Africa’s remaining swamp forests, Africa’s largest estuarine system, 526 bird species and 25,000-year-old coastal dunes.

The park is managed by iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority in conjunction with Ezemvelo KZN which administers the various tourism components and the conservation element, as well as local stakeholders, such as the Bhangazi community, the original inhabitants of Eastern Shores. It is a complicated arrangement that seeks a balance between conservation and benefits to the local communities. As such, it’s a model for how many parks in Africa will be run in the future.

The development of iSimangaliso is ongoing. More than 14,000 hectares of commercial plantations have been removed and the land rehabilitated. Game species such as elephant, black and white rhino, buffalo, cheetah and wild dog have been reintroduced. iSimangaliso means ‘miracle and wonder’ in Zulu. It’s not difficult to see why.

By Justin Fox

Cape Vidal

Where else in the world can you see dolphins early in the morning while sipping your coffee; hippo, rhino and graceful giraffe during your game drive...more

iSimangaliso Wetland and Lakes

The park has excellent biodiversity, containing marine, coastal, lake, estuarine, forest, wetland, savanna and grassland ecosystems, interwoven with all the Wildlife That goes with them – from sharks and crocodiles to eagles and rhinos....more

Isimangaliso Wetland Park Accommodation

The accommodation in iSimangaliso Wetland Park, like the area itself is very varied, from idyllic beach lodges raised on stilts, romantic suites, family get-togethers, fishing buddy retreats to plush luxury camps....more

iSimangaliso Wetland Park Loo with a View

The Mziki Hiking Trails’ overnight hut in iSimangaliso Wetland Park originally built as an observation and radar post by the U-boat-hunting Catalina squadron, based here during WWII....more

iSimangaliso World Heritage Site

The Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, now the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999....more

Kosi Bay

The fact is that the locals, when referring to Kosi Bay, in fact mean a region known as Nkosi’s (or The King’s) Bay. The closest town is eManguzi, a bustling border town just 25 kilometres from the actual coast....more

Sodwana Bay National Park

Sodwana Bay is situated in one of South Africa’s Marine Protected Areas. Located approximately 500 kilometres north of Durban on the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal...more

St Lucia

St Lucia is situated 75 km north of Richards Bay on the KwaZulu-Natal’s Elephant Coast. The town’s claim to fame as Africa’s largest estuarine system plus that it boasts no less than 220 km of non-stop beach...more