Lake St Lucia
Lake St Lucia is a world heritage site, located in the KwaZulu Natal province of South Africa. The lake is part of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, which has a variety of unspoilt habitats that range from swamps to coral reefs, and is the third largest park in South Africa.
St Lucia Lake itself is part of the St Lucia estuarine system, the mouth of which is located 150 miles north of Durban in the Indian Ocean. The lake has an associated system of swamps and marshes all of which are protected by the park, and as the oldest park in South Africa, it has a greater diversity of animals than the Kruger National Park and the Okavango Delta; this is partly due to the varying salinity of the area due to the flooding of the estuary. With over 530 species of birds, including 20,000 greater flamingos and thousands of ducks, it is a birdwatcher's paradise. Madikwe Reserve is another birding hotspot in South Africa, and is more off the standard "tourist map".
The ecosystems contained within the park include a marine system of coral reefs, sea shores covered by sand dunes and tropical forests, the lake system, swamps and seashore of terraces and woodland. These are all completely independent of each other, yet are fully integrated and can provide invaluable homes for species whose normal habitats become inhospitable (ie the salinity of a lake may increase too much, so the fish will transfer to a different lake with a lower salinity).
This is one of the only places in the world in which you can see elephant, crocodile, humpback whale, turtles, hippopotamus and shark in the same area.
To add to a game viewing experience is the offer of a number of different activities, from guided walking trails to whale watching. There are a number of protected bays and these allow access to the sea for activities such as snorkelling, spear-fishing and angling. There are beaches where turtles come to lay their eggs which can be observed, and of course, game viewing further inland.
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