Isimangaliso Wetlands Park Natures Paradise

joanstewart
joanstewart @joanstewartSeptember 2019 · 4 min read
TravelFeed

Igwala Gwala Trail is a tiny strip of pristine coastal forest about 1,5 kilometer of loops.

St Lucia located in northern KwaZulu-Natal is a small village surrounded by water where nature abounds in the sea, estuary and on land, a week is the minimum suggested visiting time to see what is on offer in the region, using this as town as base camp, with plenty of accommodation available.

Every season will offer diversified attractions in this area, we are only visiting a small walk through indigenous forested area today, a paradise for any birding enthusiast. Under 1 kilometer to walk to this forest from the center of town, the village is not all that large about 2.5 kilometers in length. Accommodation in hotels, self-catering, back-packers is available, plenty of shops and restaurants all along the main road.

Staying in this village you need to be aware hippo do come out on occasion, especially at night to enjoy village life.

Igwala Gwala Trees - Tallest appears to be the Ficus burtt-davyi Hutch
Igwala Gwala Trees - Tallest appears to be the Ficus burtt-davyi Hutch

Igwala Gwala Trees - Tallest appears to be the Ficus burtt-davyi Hutch

There is no charge to enter, ideal walking for all ages, levels of fitness, always wear sunscreen lotion, a hat, a bottle of water, insect repellent (if the bugs bug you), and proper walking shoes.

This trail is part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, we have seen bushbuck, red duiker, snakes hidden under leaves so keep to the path. It definitely is a paradise for birding community, birds from the forest floor all the way up into the top naked branches.

Red-billed hornbill
Red-billed hornbill

Red-billed hornbill

Crowned hornbill
Crowned hornbill

Crowned hornbill

Igwala is the Zulu name for Purple Crested Turaco. Turaco bird species is known as a Loerie in South Africa, the photo is of a Knysna turaco/loerie.

Knysna turaco ~ Loerie for South African's
Knysna turaco ~ Loerie for South African's

Knysna turaco/loerie

Remember to keep looking into the bush, on the ground, middle and higher up, the birds are well camouflaged and not always to find. Go quietly since most are shy!

White-browed scrub-robin
White-browed scrub-robin

White-browed scrub-robin

Red-capped robin-chat
Red-capped robin-chat

Red-capped robin-chat

Undergrowth in the area becomes very dense forming natural tunnels, we have heard the hippo bellowing down on the estuary with evidence of them using paths in this forest (massive poops).

Sightings of small buck dash through the bush in flight hearing a twig snap, they have always managed to outwit this amateur photographer, no matter how quietly I approach!

Igwala Gwala Forest Walk, St Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, South Africa part of iSimangaliso Wetland park
Igwala Gwala Forest Walk, St Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, South Africa part of iSimangaliso Wetland park

Igwala Gwala Forest Walk, St Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, South Africa part of iSimangaliso Wetland Park

Tree bending a branch over the path to rise up on the other side.
Tree bending a branch over the path to rise up on the other side.

Tree bending heavy branch over the path to rise up on the other side

Undergrowth
Undergrowth

Undergrowth

Every time you come out of the deep dense undergrowth there are patches of flowers along with butterflies, flies (always flies - cannot miss them).

Isoglossa woodii, commonly known as buckweed flowers
Isoglossa woodii, commonly known as buckweed flowers

Isoglossa woodii, commonly known as buckweed flowers

Wildflowers Igwalagwala Forest Walk
Wildflowers Igwalagwala Forest Walk

Wildflowers

Wildflowers Igwalagwala Forest Walk ~ St Lucia
Wildflowers Igwalagwala Forest Walk ~ St Lucia

Wildflowers

Our visits over the years have always taken place in May, a cooler month in southern hemisphere Autumn, flowers are seasonal depending on rains.

Flowering Trees
Flowering Trees

Flowering Trees

Butterfly
Butterfly

Butterfly

Monkey Moth - Stenoglene clucki belonging to the moth family Eupterotidae (closest I description I could find in the region)
Monkey Moth - Stenoglene clucki belonging to the moth family Eupterotidae (closest I description I could find in the region)

Monkey Moth - Stenoglene clucki belonging to the moth family Eupterotidae (closest I description I could find in the region

Watch where you walk, on two occasions we have had these hairy worms strung out at face height, where there are caterpillars butterflies or moths will emerge in months to come, some may not be so friendly to humans touching them, look with your eyes as with everything else in nature.

Caterpillars
Caterpillars

Caterpillars

This is 1 kilometer, imagine what else is in this area.

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park is one of the outstanding natural wetland and coastal sites of Africa. Covering an area of 239,566 ha, it includes a wide range of pristine marine, coastal, wetland, estuarine, and terrestrial environments which are scenically beautiful and basically unmodified by people. https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/914/

iSimangaliso must be the only place on the globe where the oldest land mammal (the rhinoceros) and the world’s biggest terrestrial mammal (the elephant) share an ecosystem with the world’s oldest fish (the coelacanth) and the world’s biggest marine mammal (the whale) ~ Nelson Mandela

An inheritance to be looked after, nurtured for everyone to enjoy possibly once in a lifetime, a place I keep being drawn back to, thanks for joining me.

This is South Africa's very first World Heritage site since 1999 (Unesco).


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Diversity of wildlife there is amazing!


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Really up to the people to keep this area like this, too many wanting to do open cast mining close to this region @psyceratopsb thanks for visiting.


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lizelle
lizelle @lizelleSeptember 2019

My absolute favourite Knysna Loerie, love seeing them in flight! Lovely post of a very special place @joanstewart!


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So many things to see and do in the area @lizelle hands down a place to explore.


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Although I have worked in the area on the electrical feed towers I have never been to this Wetland park Lady Joan. Maybe one day.
A great post here and glad that you guys are getting some rain.
Blessings!


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The coastline up there has some lovely hidden gems, this is my choice for ease of getting to other parks as well.

Sadly they are starting to destroy the region with open cast mining on the road to iMfolozi/Hluhluwe, on-going petitions against the greed of some, placing rural people into filth and decay Stephen.


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I have grown to absolutely hate mining and its accompanying greed Lady Joan.
Connections that get mining licences, with kick backs of course.
The Australians and other countries that rape the earth here to get at the minerals don't give a fig about the mess that they leave behind.
And of course the South Africans are the same, as once the mining is finished the waste is left to contaminate our rivers our dams and the air. Not even to mention the health of the people in the mining areas.
Take a drive avoiding the potholes made by mining trucks in places like Ermelo, Bethal and other areas and you will see what damages awaits the iMFOLZI/Hluhluwe areas.
So sad and a government that does not care about its people or its country.


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Disgusting in many areas going up North Coast, government not heeding warnings from anyone! Many areas fighting this scurge throughout the country, another wait and see what happens, keep fighting....


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Yep! We sign ever petition that we get Lady Joan.
But I am afraid that money talks and the feelings of the people will have very little effect.
In fact the leaders of the resistance could be killed as happened in another case.
Blessings!


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bengy
Bengy @bengySeptember 2019

Great photos! I loved the one with the weird shaped tree... but I kept thinking, hippos in the village?!?!?! It would freak me out to see one in the street... let alone waking up to it!


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Very rare that hippo come up in daylight, they come out at night to chomp so we drive, also leopard country.

The tree is fascinating how it has grown over the path, lot of _monkey ropes _in between from taller trees, tree highway @bengy, thanks for visiting.


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This post was curated by @theluvbug
and has received an upvote and a delayed resteem to hopefully generate some ❤ extra love ❤ for your post!

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In Proud Collaboration with The Power House Creatives
and their founder @jaynie


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Thanks for selecting my post, appreciated @theluvbug


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nurseanne84
Anne @nurseanne84September 2019

you need to be aware hippo do come out on occasion, especially at night to enjoy village life.

I wonder what happens if hippo decides to wait up until the morning? I have never really seen hippos up close and personal(i do not consider seeing one in zoos as an encounter).


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Hippo are really dangerous, safer to treat them with great respect as with most animals. The area boasts the largest population of hippo in South Africa, people are made aware on arrival with incidents over the years happening when this does happen.


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jayna
jayna @jaynaSeptember 2019

These pictures are wonderful, @joanstewart. I would love to visit that wetland sometime!


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This small area only gives one an idea on how very much is in this region @jayna, thanks for visiting.


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Great photos! This wetland park is amazing, Joan and you were brave to walk into it. Once I saw where you mentioned snakes, I knew I couldn’t go there.


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Never seen snakes on well worn path, we did see snake under leaves off the path when a training guide showed a group going off the path learning about the region. Living in South Africa snakes can be found everywhere, always look where you walk. Thanks for kind comment @redheadpei.


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ackhoo
ac khoo @ackhooSeptember 2019

What a richly diverse in nature place... You did well with these shots, especially the birds, ours here are so shy, I can't even point a camera at them or walk even nearer, they are gone immediately! That branch across the path is amazing - like a huge snake!!


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You need to go in relatively early, very quietly and hope to see whatever is around on the day, some arrive and make so much noise it is a lost opportunity, especially seeing the shy birds low to the ground.


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Wow I have never seen those species of birds. So gorgeous! The place do really reflect its position in the UNESCO World Heritage. I wouldn't mind a surprise from a Hippo, although I'm scared of caterpillars :D


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Happy hippo enjoy the lawns on town verges during the night, normally drive where you need to go. The area is alive with variety being left alone, thanks for visiting @wanderin


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