Visitors planning a trip to the iSimangaliso World Heritage Site this summer are in for a host of exciting new facilities to enhance their holiday. During the past year, several attractions have been finalised and opened to the public. Here are some of the new attractions:
Eastern Shores: Kwasheleni Tower
This original fire tower harks back to the days when the Eastern Shores section was under commercial forestry. Today, a well-stocked game park and the tower has been completely rebuilt and designed to maximise the outstanding 360-degree views of this stunning section of the Park, looking out from the high vegetated dunes over the ocean, and inland towards the Western Shores. On a clear day, the spectacle is breath-taking and unmatched. If you only visit one new iSimangaliso site, make this the one! (Find the sign marking Dune Loop on the way to Cape Vidal).
St Lucia Estuary precinct
The parking area at the end of Albacore Street towards the St Lucia Ski Boat Club and Sugarloaf campsite has also had a facelift, resulting in a very attractive parking area for visitors to indulge in some authentic craft shopping, or to begin the scenic stroll along the Estuary Boardwalk to the beach. New public ablutions have been built and the area is large enough to accommodate the parking and turning circles of tour busses. The aesthetics are now in keeping with the rest of the Park’s new infrastructure, forming a great entrance hub for tourists to explore this magical area before heading off to the Ski Boat Club for some nourishment and refreshments.
Western Shores: Charters Creek day visitor site
This beautiful, peaceful spot on the western side of Lake St Lucia has also been overhauled for visitors with a brand new wooden jetty and ablution facilities. Truly one of the most scenic and restful places to while away a summer’s day on the water’s edge, with the high vegetated coastal dunes on the horizon, while looking out for a great variety of birds, especially waterfowl like flamingos and pelicans. Patience may be rewarded with sightings of antelope, buffalo, zebra or even elephant making their way down to the lake for a drink, and fishing is permitted here (but no swimming please, due to the presence of crocodiles and hippos.)
uMkhuze: kuMalibala Hide and Fig Forest Aerial Boardwalk
If you haven’t already popped in to see the rebuilt kuMalibala Hide, put this on your list for your next trip to the ‘Big 5” uMkhuze section of the Park. It’s situated facing westwards towards the Lebombo Mountains (and sunset), with a winding path through natural vegetation sporting tree labels along the way. A couple of hours at this tranquil hide could offer some wonderful game and bird viewing.
A perennial favourite that was repaired after fallen trees caused damage, the Fig Forest Aerial Boardwalk offers a guided walk (to protect against our 100-strong elephant herd, lions, buffalo and other potentially dangerous game) through a magical landscape of soaring, ancient sycamore figs and other riverine forest species. It is an absolute gem of a spot and the perfect place to indulge in some African shinrin-yoku (the Japanese term for forest bathing, a proven antidote to stress and technology) while enjoying a continuous chorus of birdsong.
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