Focus, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa

Upmarket, quiet, scenic and convenient are the best ways to describe this peaceful seaside area. Located between Durban North and Umhlanga, La Lucia is not only central, but also boasts its own features and amenities that draw people to visit from the neighbouring areas.

This includes the up market La Lucia Mall, with its extensive range of shops where you can find anything from the most mundane household item to exotic jewellery and esoteric delights. It also boasts its own pubs, cinemas, restaurants and the ever popular Virgin Active Health Club.

Accommodation offered in this area stretches from the quiet, immaculate beach up into the more hilly suburban settings, with none further than a few minutes drive from all the amenities of La Lucia itself or the offerings of neighbouring Umhlanga and Durban.

By: www.umhlanga-coastline.co.za

iSimangaliso Wetland Park (Greater St Lucia Wetland Park)

iIsimangaliso Wetland Park (The Greater St Lucia Wetland Park) declared a World Heritage Site in late 1999 - is an aggregation of numerous, singular natural wonders deemed crucial to the future of the global community. Each offers its own unique features and activities for those in love with the Great Outdoors.

Hippo - iSimangaliso (Greater St Lucia) Wetland Park
Photo: Uthungulu District Municipality

Hutted accommodation and a camping site within the southernmost Mapelane Nature Reserve allow easy exploration of the fascinating, pristine Umfolozi Swamp forest.

Just across the Mfolozi River, self-guided trails reveal the beauty of the St Lucia Estuary, beginning on the southern shore with the Umphafa game trail. The short Gwalagwala Trail takes in many bird and animal sights as it wanders through coastal forest on the estuary's edge. A little longer at 5km, the Mvubu Trail skirts crocodile and hippo territory as it passes through mangrove swamps.

St Lucia Game Reserve has two short trails starting from the campsite at Iphiva the 1.5km iHlati Trail through dune forest, and the 4km, circular Iphiva Trail that skirts a beautifully situated pan abundant with bird-life. From Charter's Creek, meanwhile, indigenous trees highlight the 7km Isikhova Trail, and families of warthog and bushpig dot the slightly shorter Umkhumbe Trail. Excellent bird- watching features on two walks from Fanie's Island - the 2km Umboma Trail, and slightly longer Umkhiwane Trail that incorporates coastal forest and bush. Stronger legs - and a backpack - are called for when embarking on either of the trails traversing St Lucia's Eastern Shores. The 3-day Mziki Trail begins 2km from Mission Rocks...flanking the ocean, then passing through open grasslands, dense forests and coastal dunes for the next 38km. Spectacular views of the ocean and lake- system are complemented by likely sightings of leopard, antelope, hippo, crocodile and bush pig. Birding delights are guaranteed! Overnight accommodation is provided at a hut on Mount Tabor.

Crocodiles - Greater St Lucia Wetland Park

At 65km, the Emoyeni Trail involves five days and four nights of serious hiking by parties of eight people or less - well worth the effort considering it takes you through some of the park's most glorious areas. Besides antelope and other small mammals, you may well encounter black rhino, buffalo, leopard, crocodile and hippo. Tewati Wilderness Area presents another 4-day trail with the likelihood of spotting leopard, rhino and herds of buffalo but operates only between April and September. The first and last nights of this expedition are spent at Bhangazi base camp near Cape Vidal the site of several daylong walks. You'll see wildebeest, impala, zebra and reedbuck on the 2km, circular...iPhotwe Trail hippo, buffalo and waterbuck on the slightly longer Imboma Trail many animals and birds in the dune forest and lakeside of the 7km Mvubu... Trail...plus majestic ocean dwellers along the short, beach- hugging Whale Tower Trail.

False Bay Park on the western shores of Lake St Lucia offers three easy walks averaging about 8kms each. All leave from the Main Gate passing through lush, indigenous forests and alongside the lake's edge.

Fishing at False Bay
Photo: Uthungulu District Municipality

Continuing north beyond the abundant - but controlled - fishing grounds off the vast Ozabeni, Mfabeni and St Lucia Marine Reserve, scuba diving at Sodwana Bay is regarded as among the world's best. Underwater visitors are invited to marvel at a coral garden, glimpse a shadowy, giant Manta Ray and swim alongside a surprisingly amenable Ragged-tooth or Whale-shark. For landlubbers, a 5km walk through various habitats is named after its destination the coastal lake of Mgobozeleni. This marks the beginning of the Maputaland Marine Reserve, which every summer hosts the heart-warming spectacle of enormous, endangered Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles emerging unmolested from the ocean to lay their eggs in the frontal dunes. Our country's largest, natural expanse of fresh water - Lake Sibaya - lies just beyond the tall dunes, and can be enjoyed via a 3km walk through the forest at the water's edge. The lake is home to many species of fish and 'patrolled' by crocodiles and hippos.

You can also catch the 'miracle' of turtle breeding along our northernmost stretch of coastal paradise - Kosi Bay Nature Reserve. This delightful wilderness offers easy trails to 'turtle beaches' , through Raffia-palm forest and to the mouth of Kosi Bay itself. The local folk are famous not only for their ingenious fish traps, but also for their Raffia-palm wine. A supply of this home- brew might come in useful along the tough Amanzimnyama Trail a 4-day trek from the northwestern shore of Lake Nlange through Malangeni Forest to the Shaida River!

From Cape St Lucia to Ponto do Ouro at the Mozambique border - via all points in between - the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (Greater St Lucia Wetland Park) presents nature in all its glory for the enjoyment of everyone. Here lie ecotourism experiences par excellence... amid a wealth of life, in all its forms, and a legacy of priceless value. Welcome to our World Heritage Site and your cherished memories of a lifetime!

It is important to note that the Mkuzi Game Reserve is now also part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (Greater St Lucia Wetland Park).

For more information make use of the KZN Wildlife website or contact them at:
General Enquiries: (033) 845 1002
Reservations Office for hutted accommodation and wilderness trails
P.O. Box 13069
CASCADES,3202
Telephone: (033) 845 1000
Fax: (033) 845 1001

Article by: www.elephantcoast.kzn.org.za