The circular Igwala Gwala Forest Trail leads through coastal forest next to the estuary. Igwala is the Zulu name for Purple Crested Turaco. Birders should check the ground, mid-stratum and canopy. You can expect White-eared Barbet, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Goldentailed Woodpecker, Scalythroated Honeyguide,
Yellow breasted Apalis, Rudd's Apalis, Green Malkoha, Southern Boubou, Red-capped Robin-chat, Scrub Robin, Grey Waxbill, Green Twinspot and many more.
The trail is about 1.5km and suitable for all ages and fitness levels, even for mothers with prams.
Along with being a renowned birding spot, there are regular sightings of Red Duiker, Tree squirrels, the odd Bushbuck, Vervet Monkeys and even hippos who use the trail at night. The trial connects with a short path leading to the estuary where water birds can be seen.
The trail is open to all and no bookings required or fees payable. Should there be a problem KZN Ezemvelo must be contacted. Do watch out for the odd low hanging branch and berthing roots. Wear hats and proper shoes, also insect repellent. No bikes, motorcycles allowed and dogs must be on leashes to avoid being shot when they chase wild animals. This trail is part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
Things to do near
*Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling
South Africa (13.7 km from St Lucia)
9 hole golf course, also used as an 18 hole, with tennis courts and a squash court
Hluhluwe (34.2 km from St Lucia)
Check out the coolest of Africa's cats Just outside Hluhluwe is the only wild cat rehabilitation facility in Zululand, situated on Emdoneni Lodge and Game Farm, a private game reserve with sand forest vegetation. Emdoneni Cat Rehabilitation Centre offers twice-daily educational tours, with informative talks by an experienced guide and feeding during the afternoon. Orphaned or injured wild cheetah, serval, African wildcats and lynx are rehabilitated for release back into their natural habitat where possible.Funding for the project comes from tour fees or an ‘adoption’ programme which allows visitors to contribute to the centre. These funds go directly to veterinary care, feeding, camp and fence maintenance, as well as workers’ salaries. By implementing a system based on donations, it is hoped to improve each cat’s stay at the centre.The aim of the project is to keep as few cats as possible in captivity. Once their numbers increase, suitable animals are released back into the wild.
Greater St Lucia Wetland Park (46.5 km from St Lucia)
False Bay Park is situated along the western shore of False Bay, Lake St Lucia. It lies within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa's third-largest protected area, spanning an incredible 280 km stretch of coastline.
Hluhluwe (51.7 km from St Lucia)
Established in 1895, wildlife viewing has always been the prime attraction at Hluhluwe, close range sightings made all the more exciting with viewing hides conveniently overlooking waterholes.
Today the reserve is part of the greater Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park covering 96 000 hectares and containing an immense diversity of animals, birds and plant life.
Home once more to the Big Five, Hluhluwe Game Reserve is also the headquarters of Operation Rhino and is internationally renowned for its white rhino conservation.
Hluhluwe makes up the northern section of the park, characterised by undulating hills of savannah vegetation and woodlands. Along with game-viewing drives, there are two self-guided drive routes which give insight into the management and natural history of the park. Highly recommended are the early morning and late afternoon guided walks.
Hluhluwe (51.8 km from St Lucia)
If you like wild more than mild wilderness hiking, spend three or four nights backpacking and sleeping under the stars in Big Five territory. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi’s Primitive Trail provides equipment and food but without tents or permanent campsites. Their strict ‘no trace’ ethic means bathing is done in the river. Although walking distances are not tough, this is not for slackers and you will carry your own food and gear. Primitive Trails are open from March to November.
Duration: 3 – 4 days
Richards Bay (59 km from St Lucia)
Alkantstrand is located in the little town of Richards Bay; a sub-tropical beach that provides warm water from the Indian Ocean making it perfect swimming temperature all year round.
Lifeguards are on duty throughout the year, and there are other amenities such as picnic tables, a grassy area, ablutions, parking, and a restaurant nearby. There are braai sites available too.
Richards Bay (59.3 km from St Lucia)
Pappabeer Fishing Charters is a well-established company in Richard Bay. With our deep blue waters and variety of fish species, we promise you a fishing trip of a lifetime and an adventure you will never forget.
Our skipper and owner has years of experience in these waters; we create a safe environment for everyone. Don’t worry if you have never been out to sea, we will show you everything you'll need to know in landing your big catch for the day.
With bottom fishing, you can be guaranteed a catch, and trolling trips are done for those seeking a big tuna or marlyn. All fishing equipment and bait are supplied. If you're keen on capturing that perfect moment, DVD and photo coverage can be arranged.
Mkhuze Game Reserve (81.7 km from St Lucia)
Renowned as a place of great beauty and high contrasts, Mkhuze Game Reserve is also known for its rich birdlife. Situated in northern Zululand, the park forms the north western point of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Boasting more than 420 recorded bird species, it is a popular spot for birdwatchers.
Two magnificent pans are home to families of hippo, crocodile, pink-backed and white pelicans, as well as numerous waterbirds. The Mkhuze River forms the reserve's northern and eastern borders and supports a lovely stretch of fig forest along its banks. Fish eagles can regularly be seen swooping to catch fish over the pans.
Visitors have the chance of spotting black and white rhino, elephant, giraffe, leopard, buffalo, nyala, blue wildebeest, warthog, impala, kudu and smaller antelope. Look out for rare sightings of cheetah, hyena and tiny suni antelope. There is excellent bird and animal viewing opportunities from three hides. A trip to the Zulu cultural village inside the reserve offers an interesting view of the lifestyle and crafts of the KwaJobe community.
Mtunzini (95.8 km from St Lucia)
Mtunzini Beach is a unique destination for nature lovers. This hidden gem is perfect for anyone searching for simple beauty, quietness and relaxation. Mtunzini offers amazing walks and has abundant birdlife. The dunes and beach seemingly stretch forever, and the river meanders through the forest and pristine mangroves.
Sodwana Bay (97.6 km from St Lucia)
Sodwana Bay offers an incredibly long stretch of pristine beach to explore and walk. During December and January, thousands of Gautengers come here for their summer holiday, so keep this in mind if you’re seeking a quiet break.
Scuba diving is very popular, and dive boats launch daily to the outlying coral reefs. There's great horse riding on the beach and in the reserve.
Bird watchers and hikers have the option of a 5 km walking trail through the coastal forests and sand dunes. Summer nights see Loggerhead and Leatherback Turtles coming in to nest on this sandy beach.
Mtunzini (99.4 km from St Lucia)
Home to the incredibly rare Palmnut Vulture, Umlalazi Nature Reserve provides restricted access to beautiful beaches and a river. Amazing birding life and small animals, numerous walks and picnic spots, beach fishing and swimming makes it a paradise for nature lovers. There is limited waterskiing and canoeing on the lagoon – keep a lookout for the occasional crocodile and sharks.