South Africa’s first World Heritage Site, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, turns 20 this year. The town of St Lucia has the privilege of being right inside it – surrounded by wilderness and water. If you are based in St Lucia here are some walks worth doing.
1. iGwala Gwala Trail
This free 1,5km circular walk on the edge of town passes below a forest canopy where samango monkeys squeak from the foliage and noisy turacos (after which the trail is named) flash their colours
between the boughs. Birders can also look out for purple crested turaco, yellow-rumped tnkerbird and the goldentailed woodpecke and Woodwards’ batis.
2. Dune Trail
This walk gives you access to SA’s highest vegetated dune, and the best views in town (over St Lucia and the estuary). Park at the Ski-Boat Club, follow the boardwalk and cross Estuary Beach, heading south. The
trail is at Maphelane Resort, a roughly 7km return walk.
Don’t be surprised if you come across cyclists following the Indian Ocean shorline, using fatbikes to tackle the sandy stretch between St Lucia and Mphelane.
3. Eastern Shores section self-guided nature trail
In a fenced-off area, this bush walk skirts croc and hippo territory. You will also see antelope, blue wildebeest and zebras and although you’re not that likely to stumble across them, leopard and hyena are found on the opposite side of the fence. Look out for birds such as the southern-banded snake eagle and the rufous-bellied heron.
This walk takes about two hours and the park fee is R56 per person.