iSimangaliso Wetland Park - World Heritage Site
On 27 April 1897 St Lucia was declared a game reserve. The conservation area was a 35'000 hectare lake with a 1km strip of land surrounding the lake. At a later stage other conservation areas were added. On 1 December 1999 UNESCO declared the lake and adjacent coastal areas South Africa’s first world heritage site. The 358,534 hectare reserve was recognised for its awe-inspiring natural beauty and unique value in global conservation.
Its indescribable beauty, containing three major lake systems, eight different ecosystems encompasses five major ecological zones, South Africa’s largest estuarine ecosystem, some of the last remaining swamp forests in South Africa, and some of the oldest and highest vegetated coastal dunes in the world. Unique probably does not begin to describe it. The number of animal species in the park is also unrivalled. There are more than 3400 species of which 120 are mammals (including elephants, rhino, buffalo, wild dog and hyena), 128 reptiles and 50 amphibians. It is home to over 1000 hippo and 1200 crocodile and has an impressive list of 530 bird species throughout the World Heritage Site.The park has since grown to a size of 1 328 900ha which makes it the second largest park after the Kruger National Park.