Words: Siyabonga Mhlongo
iSimangaliso, South Africa’s first world heritage site, boasts a 220km-long coastline, almost 9% of the country’s total and amongst its most pristine and undeveloped stretches of beach, which draw increasing numbers each year, particularly at the bustling hubs of Sodwana Bay, Cape Vidal, St Lucia and Kosi Bay.
Courtesy of: iSimangaliso
Accommodation bookings have gone extremely well according to lodge operators, in and around the park, with most reporting that they are fully booked over the Easter weekend particularly at coastal resorts. However limited availability remains at uMkhuze and in St Lucia.
The gate operating times for iSimangaliso are 06:00 to 18:00, except for Sodwana Bay which has 24 hour access. There is strictly no late entry at any gates throughout the Park. Maps will be available for purchase at gates at R10.
In order to make the holiday season enjoyable and safe for all, iSimangaliso’s system of limiting cars in the Park has controlled the overflow of vehicles into Cape Vidal and Sodwana, A day-visitor limit of 120 applies at Cape Vidal. In Sodwana Bay, a gate limit of 500 vehicles has been set and an overflow parking established at the boundary of the Park. The 500-vehicle limit includes 200 daily permits which will be issued to 4x4 drivers wishing to park on the beach. The permit will entitle the holder to a single entry, and is issued at no charge on a first-come first-served basis daily.
The beaches remain a popular activity. There are strong currents and bathers are reminded to be cautious and mindful of safety as the Park's beaches are unmanned. There are no shark nets and swimming is at your own risk. Swimming in the lake is prohibited due to the presence of crocodiles and hippos.
Visitors preferring to avoid crowds and hot beach sand are encouraged to explore other sections of the park such as uMkhuze (only an hour from Sodwana Bay) and the Western Shores near St Lucia. The first phase of alterations at kuMasinga Hide in uMkhuze is complete and is open for public use.
Please adhere to safety advisories and speed limits, and take special care to look out for small creatures such as tortoises, dung beetles and birds on the roads.
Rhino Card holders will be delighted to know that, in order not to disrupt cardholders’ upcoming Easter holiday plans to the Park, Rhino cards will be accepted for April and May 2015. The rhino card is an Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife scheme, the terms of which are negotiated annually for iSimangaliso. This negotiation is presently in process.
iSimangaliso and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife wish local residents and visitors to iSimangaliso and enjoyable and safe holiday, and remind visitors that no alcohol is allowed in the Park, with the exception of accommodated guests. Alcohol may not be consumed in public areas.
For further information contact Siyabonga Mhlongo on