iSimangaliso: Outdoor Activities
Outdoor Activities and Things to do in and around St Lucia
We provide lots of information so that you can experience and enjoy this extraordinary, still wild, natural environment around us and share nature on our doorstep.
St Lucia Wilds and staff are not affiliated or endorse any activities, tours or tour operators mentioned. The information is purely advertorial and informative. We are not a booking agent.
St Lucia offers activities for all ages, the fit and the brave. It gets very hot, even warm days in mid winter, so always have sun protection cream, hats and water with you.
OUT of Town (but close)
St Lucia is excellent in summer with many visitors and breeding and very good in winter months too. Within a 35 km area we have 5 Hot spots with different habitat. You can access all the spots yourself or get a qualified local bird guide for a few hours to help with "specials". Our family, (including the dog Jack), are keen birders but also call on the guides for expertise. We have a growing garden bird list, the nearest hotspot is 50m. Visit www.birdlife.org.za for lists etc. and other birding information.
For more information on birding in KwaZulu-Natal, visit the BirdLife South Africa birding routes website .
Known as Hippo & Croc tours on Lake St Lucia. The big flat bottom ferry type boats are accessible to disabled persons, wheelchairs and small children. The tours are informative and educational for about 2 hours. Snacks and drinks for sale on large boats. There are smaller 15 person barge boats, excellent for small groups, serious photographers.
Crocodile and Reptile Park
In St Lucia, entrance fee payable. Open daily. It is an educational museum tour with live crocodiles of different ages and different types and cycad garden. Saturdays at 15h00 there is an educational talk with live specimens and they feed the big crocodiles. Curio shop and tea room (open sometimes.)
St Lucia offers a spot for most types of fishing. Sea, surf, rock, lake, fly-fishing etc. Ensure you have your permits and license on your person, also keep a list with minimum size and bag limits handy. Fishing kayaks may launch at Cape Vidal, it is safest there.
You need your Certificates of Fitness (for boat) and Competency (skippers license) to launch in the lake or sea at St Lucia and Cape Vidal. There are many skippers that offer deep-sea fishing at St Lucia.
There are 4 trails that you can walk without a guide that covers different habitats in and around the town. Ensure you have enough water and shoes that can get wet if you walk to the lake (marshland).
The trails vary from 15 minutes to 2 hours and you may encounter Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Impala, Warthog, Leopard if you are really lucky and many species of birds.
Do not cycle in the iGwalagwala Trail, as there are many blind curves and people walking. The other trails are safer to cycle in the nature reserve area.
You have to book a guide (one with a gun) if you want to hike inside the Wetland Park through KZN Ezemvelo/Wildlife. These hikes are between a few hours to a few days.
Drive yourself or go with a tour operator from St Lucia or meet another operator at the gates.
Game is most active at dawn and sunset, especially during hot days. Colder, cloudy, rainy days also provide good viewing all day. Ensure you have enough petrol.
Hluhluwe/Imfolozi Game Park has 2 entrances, Nyalazi gate about 60km and Hilltop gate about 90km. Entrance fees are payable at all the gates, domestic visitors take your id for discount. Gate times: Summer (1 November) 05h00-19h00/Winter (1 April) 06h00 - 18h00. Take your lunch and picnic (even braai) at one of the picnic spots.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park offer the Eastern and Western Shores game drives. Gate times: Summer (1 November) 05h00-19h00/Winter (1 April) 06h00 - 18h00. Entrance fee is per vehicle and per person. The area east of the lake is Eastern Shores and includes Cape Vidal and Mission Rocks with entrance at St Lucia. There are a number of game viewing roads (one-way loop roads), picnic spots and a water pans. The roads offer access to varied habitats like grasslands, lakes, pans and coastal dune forests. Speed limit is 60, drive slowly and do not kill the animals, birds and beetles that cross the roads or use it themselves. Beware of monkeys stealing your food, DO NOT FEED THEM. Be aware of Buffalo and Rhino when walking to hides.
Mission Rocks offers a lookout point atop a vegetated dune, picnic area, and toilet ablution and beach access. Best to go at low tide so the rocks are clear of water and the tidal pools are visible. There is a shady picnic area with ablution. No shops, take everything with you, beware of sharp rocks.
Cape Vidal has a tiny bay and is a popular beach for swimming, basic snorkeling and fishing. Picnic sites and toilet and shower ablutions are available for day visitors. Take everything with you especially water to drink. Do not drive into unmarked or no entry roads, it will take hours to find you when you get stuck or lost. It gets very crowded over long weekends and peak season and 120 vehicles are allowed into the park at any given time.
Horse rides on the beach from 1 hour and you do not have to know how. Max 90kg. Rides are available into the wetland park nature area for a bush or beach bush combo ride. Safaris are available from 2 hours up to a few days, sleeping in a tented camp inside the park. Booking is essential.
Kayaking on Lake
Kayaking is on Lake St Lucia - guided only. Plastic 2 person kayaks with all safety equipment provided and an experienced guide. 2-3 hour paddles, past crocs and hippos, birders should try this. Usually 07h00 am or 14h00, weather and wind permitting. You do not need to be super fit or young, ladies welcome.
Guided only, into the Wetland Park Eastern and Western Shores on a game viewing vehicle. Tours vary from 3 hour sunset/sunrise drives. Full night drive is from about 20h00 to 23h00 at night. Pick up and drop off at place of stay.
Experience the forests at night and see other wildlife. Some tour operators include refreshments.
Turtle Tours (seasonal from November to February)
Leatherback and Loggerhead Sea Turtles nest on our beaches and 2 tour operators are chosen to guide tours on the beach at Cape Vidal.
The tours are from early evening to early morning depending on the tides. The tours include night drives to and from Cape Vidal, driving on the beach northwards and snacks and refreshments and a walk on the beach. From January the eggs hatch and a few lucky people witness the scurry to get to the water and other see the enormous females dig and lay eggs, conceal it and return to the sea.
Whale Watching (seasonal from June to November)
St Lucia has one permit holder for Whale watching only, Advantage. This is a deep-sea boat based trip. No pregnant women and those with spine and back problems or small children. Trips are weather permitting and you have to sign an indemnity form. Trips start very early in the morning and is about 2 hours. Be totally blown away by the size of the Humpback Whales, see flying fish and dolphins too.
Ocean Adventures - when whale season is over. These are boat based deep-sea trips that take you for about 2 hours looking for sea mammals (dolphins, flying fish etc.) It is an activity for those who have never been on a boat in the sea, a once in a life time adventure experience. (No persons with back problems or pregnant ladies). You will get wet so wear shoes and clothes that can get wet. (Minimum persons and weather dependant)
Visit traditional kraals with people enacting and showing a previous way of living at Dumazulu at Bushlands (Hluhluwe).
Go on a historical storytelling tour to Khula village, 7km from St Lucia, and see living today entwined with tradition and Zulu Culture. Tours can include a visit to a church (Sunday only), school, clinic, crèche, mat weavers, and children dancing, advance booking essential.
There are craft stalls and markets along the roads, be very careful when you stop at the small remote ones. St Lucia has 2 craft markets in town.
Sodwana Bay - Scuba Diving
This activity can only be done at Sodwana Bay only about 175 km from St Lucia. There are many reefs and experienced guides, skippers and trainers. Bring your own equipment or rent. Lots of speed humps on road at and potholes the last few kilometers from Mbazwana. Day visitors fee is payable to access beach. Spar and other shops at Mbazwana, restaurants and coffee shop.
The highest vegetated dune in the Wetland Park is 183m at Maphelane. This is a popular spot with fishermen and nature lovers. You will need an off-road vehicle. Managed by KZN Ezemvelo.
About 12 km from St Lucia, a farmer's community and holiday accommodation. Monzi also boasts a 9 -18 hole golf course shared with wildlife, country house (lunch & bar), Cane Rat home industry offers fresh farm produce (in season) eggs, frozen meals and delicious treats also tea garden, Maywood Plant Nursery is also close by.
Visit the small craft harbour area with many restaurants and craft shops. The centre has many restaurants, shops and Ster Kinekor Cinema. There are also very popular birding spots in Richards Bay and a guide is essential for safety reasons and to get access to some areas, which are on private land. The beaches are very crowded in season.
This little town is about 87 km and you can easily make a day trip there. Visit Ilala Weavers Basketry export showroom and museum, there is also a restaurant. Visit the Emdoneni Cat Breeding Project at Bushlands. Open to public twice a day only, so enquire first. Feeding of cats show late afternoon and booking essential. Coffee shop.
Visi the traditional Zulu kraal Dumazulu, 3 shows per day and bird park next door. En route, stop at Zamimpilo Craft Market for Zulu pottery, mats and other wooden craft as well as fruit in season. The market is operated and managed by women of the community, many of them making the craft for sale, themselves.
More Information Required
Contact St Lucia Wilds - Tel: Int.(+2735) 590 1033 or Local (035) 590 1033
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