It was listed as South Africa's first World Heritage Site in December 1999 in recognition of its superlative natural beauty and unique global values.
It is undoubtedly one of the jewels of South Africa's coastline, with a unique mosaic of ecosystems - swamps, lakes, beaches, coral reefs, wetlands, woodlands, coastal forests and grasslands.
The park incorporates the whole of Lake St Lucia, the St Lucia and Maputaland Marine Reserves, the Coastal Forest Reserve and the Kosi Bay Natural Reserve
The 332 000 hectare Park contains three major lake systems, eight interlinking ecosystems, 700 year old fishing traditions, most of South Africa's remaining swamp forests, Africa's largest estuarine system, 526 bird species and 25 000 year-old coastal dunes – among the highest in the world.
Hey Sita, did you know that these waters also are graced by 20 000 greater flamingos, 40 000 lesser flamingoes, as well as thousands of ducks?
The park consists of five individual ecosystems. These ecosystems function totally independent yet fully integrated with each other.
The five ecosystems in the park are:
- Marine System
- Characterised by the warm Indian Ocean, containing the southernmost coral reefs in Africa, as well as sub-marine canyons and long sandy beaches.
- Eastern Shores
- A coastal dune system consisting of high linear dunes and sub-tropical forests, grassy plains and wetlands.
- Lake System
- Two estuary-linked lakes of St Lucia and Kosi Bay, plus the four large freshwater lakes of Lake Sibhayi, Ngobezeleni, Bhangazi north and Bhangazi south.
- Mkhuze and Umfolozi Swamps
- Swamp forests and extensive reeds and papyrus marshes.
- Western Shores
- Ancient shoreline terraces and dry savanna woodlands.
Marti wants to know what the name iSimangaliso means??
It means miracle and wonder, which aptly describes this unique place, dont you think?
Wow, there is so much to do from fishing, boating and scuba diving to hiking, horseriding, game viewing, whale and bird watching......and we find ourselves in the august company of Leatherback turtles, Nile crocodiles, Pink-backed pelicans; Humpback whales; hippos, – all gracing this South African World Heritage Site with their rare and esteemed presence.
You won't find it anywhere else in the world!!
'iSimangaliso must be the only place on the globe where the oldest land mammal (the rhinoceros) and the world's biggest terrestrial mammal (the elephant) share an ecosystem with the world's oldest fish (coelacanth) and the world's biggest marine mammal (the whale)' – Nelson Mandela