The most striking feature of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is the 360-square-kilometre Lake St Lucia, South Africa’s largest inland body of water, formed 25,000 years ago when the oceans receded. The lake is flanked by mountainous dunes covered by forest and grassland, whose peaks soar to an astonishing 200m above the beach to form a slender rampart against the Indian Ocean. Aside from the lake and dune ecosystems, the reserve protects a marine zone of warm tropical seas, coral reefs and endless sandy beaches; the papyrus and reed wetland of the Mkhuze swamps, on the north of the lake; and, on the western shore, dry savannah and thornveld. Any one of these would justify conservation, but their confluence around the lake makes this a world-class wilderness. The real prize of the area is Cape Vidal inside the wetland park, though the limited accommodation there may necessitate your making a day-trip from St Lucia town.

 

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