Stretching from St Lucia in the south to Kosi Bay in the north, across the Lubombo Mountains in the west and including the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Game Park is The Elephant Coast. A destination which is not only home to the Big Five, but also to all that the iSimangaliso Wetland Park offers. From whale sightings and protected reefs all framed by a pristine, protected coastline to being home to some of the oldest elephants in the country.
Regarded as an eco-tourism hotspot particularly because of its access to Africa’s largest estuarine system, subtropical forests, swamps, wetland system, magnificent beaches, The Elephant Coast includes Kosi Bay, Cape Vidal, Sodwana Bay and a large number of game reserves.
“Nelson Mandela Stated: the Isimangaliso Wetlands Park, must be the only place on earth where the world’s oldest land mammal (Rhino) and the world’s biggest terrestrial mammal (elephant) share an ecosystem with the world’s oldest fish (coelacanth) and the world’s biggest marine mammals (whales).”
This is a complete holiday from start to finish with so many different experiences you can easily think you’ve crossed borders, yet all of these activities are within a short drive of each other.
From a Big 5 HluhluweuMfolozi game drive on one day to birding the Mkuze Fig Forest on the next. Then you can be off to dive the Sodwana Bay coral reefs followed by Tiger-fishing on Jozini dam. This region of KZN is nothing short of spectacular. With a stunning coastline which you can explore on horseback or on board a kayak. This extraordinary combination of unique terrestrial and marine eco-systems makes not just for an adventurous escape from the city but also an experience unlike any other right here on our doorstep.
*The Isimangaliso Wetland Park, is South Africa’s first world heritage site as declared by UNESCO in December 1999, has more animal species than Kruger.’
Kosi Bay with its four large interconnected lakes and an estuary which opens to the sea is especially diverse. The area has a vibrant, tropical island feel that cannot be found anywhere else in South Africa. The estuary with its shallow water coral reefs with hundreds of brightly coloured fish species and excellent water visibility makes this a snorkeller’s dream. Spot devil fire fish, honey comb eels and much more.
Ocean enthusiasts can enjoy just about every kind of sea adventure in this beautiful area, with everything from kitesurfing to sea turtle tours. If getting wet is not really your thing, you can enjoy quad biking or a leisurely walk through nature at its best St Lucia & Cape Vidal:
Be enchanted by some of the most vegetated sand dunes in the world. Not to mention that if you plan it right and make your trip there somewhere during the months of June to November you may be treated to the spectacular sight of the migration of the mighty Humpback whales.
As mentioned before the area has more animal species than the Kruger National Park and you are spoilt for choice as to where you can view them. From private lodges to beautiful hotels there are many to choose from. Wake up early and enjoy one of the many wildlife expeditions available to you.
Expect to catch a glimpse of the elusive leopard, numerous hippo and rhino and of course the mighty elephant. Tembe Elephant Park, is unique with it’s Sand Forest habitat, and is also known for having Africa’s largest tuskers.
Africa’s oldest Game Reserve, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, is one of many reserves in the area where you can experience the splendour of the Big 5, and yes, this does mean lions too. One of our firm favourites has got to be a stay on board the Shayamanzi on Jozini Dam, where you can experience the thrill of the wild from the comfort of a luxury yacht.
Mkuze and Ndumu Game Reserves are recognised as two of Southern Africa’s birding hotspots, boasting some 600 species of birds. For avid enthusiasts this is a dream come true, with an opportunity to spot the Golden Pipit and other rare vagrants such as the Buff-breasted Sandpiper.
Where else in the world can you get to experience so much variety within such close proximity to each other and best of all so close to the city?
The people of the Elephant Coast have one thing in common, a deep and abiding love for the area. From the proud Zulu to the Thembe, who migrated from Mozambique sometime in the 16th century to the many missionaries, adventurers and hunters who have settled here. Spend some time engaging with them, talk to them and you will soon be just as enthralled as we were.