iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa
GPS: -27.635910921179, 32.582712360283
Meaning “miraculous place” in Zulu, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park lives up to its name. It is one of the few natural sites on the planet that combines such a great biological diversity in one area. Together with Lake St. Lucia, this protected area forms the largest network of estuarine lakes on the African continent and is home to a multitude of wildlife species.
The 3,320 km² iSimangaliso Wetland Park stretches along the Indian Ocean to Mozambique and has a coastline of 220 kilometres. Its location in a transitional zone between tropical and subtropical Africa gives it a scenic beauty. This includes the highest forested dunes in the world, prolific seabeds, large stretches of some of the most beautiful beaches in South Africa, marshes and swamp forests, and the three lake systems of Kosi Bay, Lake St Lucia and Lake Sibaya. The many interconnected ecosystems of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park generate an abundance of wildlife and biodiversity. According to some authorities, this natural site concentrates more terrestrial and marine animal species than any other protected area in Africa. In any case, it was the first South African site to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the early 2000s.
Renowned for the variety of its natural environments, the park is home to the greatest diversity of birds and amphibians on the African continent, as well as the highest density of black rhinoceros in the world. Adored by birdwatchers, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is also popular with divers and fishermen for the richness of the marine life on its coral reef. In addition, the coastline of the Maputaland region serves as a nesting site for many sea turtles (loggerhead and leatherback species) at the foot of the coastal dunes of Sodwana Bay. Since 2001, and the successful reintroduction of elephants in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, it is even possible to see the Big Five (including lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant) and humpback whales. Rarely visited by tourists, unlike the Kruger National Park, this land of abundance offers an amazing experience and adventure in the wild.