iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site situated in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal province, has upgraded a number of its facilities over the past year, ready for an influx of guests this summer.

iSimangaliso fire tower.

The original fire tower harks back to the days when the Eastern Shores section was under commercial forestry. Today, there is a well-stocked game park, and the tower has been completely rebuilt and designed to maximise the 360-degree views of this section of the park, looking out from the high vegetated dunes over the ocean, and inland towards the Western Shores. To visit the tower, find the sign marking the turn-off to Dune Loop on the way to Cape Vidal.

iSimangaliso’s updated parking.

The parking area at the end of Albacore Street toward the St Lucia Ski Boat Club and Sugarloaf campsite has also had a facelift, resulting in an attractive area for visitors to do some authentic craft shopping, or start the scenic stroll along the Estuary Boardwalk to the beach. New public ablutions have been built and the area is large enough to accommodate the parking and turning circles of tour buses. With the upgrade, the aesthetics are more in line with the rest of the park’s new infrastructure, forming an inviting entrance for tourists to explore the area before heading off to the Ski Boat Club for refreshments.

iSimangaliso’s updated parking.

The western side of Lake St Lucia has also been overhauled for visitors with a new wooden jetty and ablution facilities. The lake, home to a variety of birds such as flamingoes and pelicans, looks out to the high, vegetated coastal dunes where guests may spot a variety of wildlife such as antelope, buffalo, zebra or elephant making their way down to the lake. Fishing is permitted, however swimming is restricted due to the presence of crocodiles and hippos.

New wooden jetty on the western side of Lake St Lucia. 

The rebuilt kuMalibala Hide faces west towards the Lebombo Mountains, with a winding path through the vegetation.

The Fig Forest Aerial Boardwalk, repaired after fallen trees caused damage, offers guided walks through a landscape of sycamore figs and other riverine forest species.

Sibusiso Bukhosini, CEO of iSimangaliso says: “iSimangaliso has already established itself as a leading conservation and tourist destination in Africa. The new sites complement a long list of those already developed for visitors to maximise their experience and appreciation of the landscapes and ecosystems. We invite everyone to spend time in our World Heritage Site, enjoy the new facilities and we look forward to continuing on our path of excellence in creating even more top-class attractions in the future.”

To help locate the new attractions and navigate the park on a self-drive tour, visitors can purchase a map at the entrance gate for R10 (€0.62), or download one free when they register on the park’s website: www.isimangaliso.com.