This vast, shallow lagoon in coastal Zululand covers more than 325km2 and is one of the best areas for waterbirds and seabirds in South Africa.
Much of the shoreline of the lagoon is protected as the St Lucia Park and False Bay Park and the St Lucia Game Reserve covers the northern part of the lake. Between the southern part of the lake and the sea is the Eastern Shores State Forest and to the north is the Cape Vidal State Forest. These protected areas are all now incorporated within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park which extends to the Mozambique border in the north and the Lebombo mountains in the west.
The St Lucia Lagoon area includes sand-dune forest and open grassland and hosts a wide range of birds. More than 350 species have been recorded there.
Among the many breeding birds are large numbers of Great White Pelican, African Fish Eagle and 12 species of heron. Other species of interest to be seen here include White-backed Duck, Woolly-necked Stork and Saddle-billed Stork, Lesser Jacana, Knysna Turaco and Livingstone's Turaco, Pied Kingfisher, Brown-hooded Kingfisher and Mangrove Kingfisher and Crowned Hornbill. In addition to African Fish Eagle, raptors include African Cuckoo-Hawk, Bat Hawk and Southern Banded Snake Eagle. Passerines are abundant and varied and include the very localised Zululand Batis which can be seen in the Eastern Shores State Forest.
Birds you can see here include:
Little Grebe, Great Cormorant, Reed Cormorant, Great White Pelican, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Intermediate Egret, Black-headed Heron, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Goliath Heron, Woolly-necked Stork, Saddle-billed Stork, Lesser Flamingo, Greater Flamingo, Egyptian Goose, White-backed Duck, African Pygmy Goose, African Fish Eagle, African Cuckoo-Hawk, Bat Hawk, Southern Banded Snake Eagle, African Black Crake, Red-chested Flufftail, Common Moorhen, Crested Coot, Lesser Jacana, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Water Thick-knee, Grey-headed Gull, Caspian Tern, White-winged Tern, Whiskered Tern, African Pigeon, Lemon Dove, Tambourine Dove, Livingstone's Turaco, Knysna Turaco, Green Malkoha, African Wood Owl, Swamp Nightjar, Pied Kingfisher, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Mangrove Kingfisher, Crowned Hornbill, White-eared Barbet, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, African Broadbill, Black Saw-wing Swallow, Barn Swallow, Rosy-throated Longclaw, Short-tailed Pipit, Terrestrial Brownbul, Sombre Greenbul, Spotted Ground Thrush, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Brown Scrub Robin, Bearded Scrub Robin, Croaking Cisticola, Rudd's Apalis, African Crested-Flycatcher, Zululand Batis, Olive Bush Shrike, Four-coloured Bush Shrike, Black-bellied Glossy-Starling, Mouse-coloured Sunbird, Neergaard's Sunbird, Forest Weaver, Grosbeak Weaver, Green-backed Twinspot, Black-and-white Mannikin, Lemon-breasted Seedeater
There are large populations of Hippopotamus and Nile Crocodile here and sharks sometimes enter the lagoon. The Crocodile Centre near St Lucia village is worth visiting to learn more about this fascinating reptile.
The state forests hold large numbers of Reedbuck and other mammals include Red Duiker, Bushbuck and Vervet Monkey. Black Rhinoceros, African Buffalo, Greater Kudu, Waterbuck, Side-striped Jackal and Brown Hyena have been reintroduced.
Sea Turtles breed on the shore in the Marine Reserve north of Cape Vidal.
History and Use
Areas of Interest
There is also good birding on trails around Charter's Creek on the western shore.
Access and Facilities
St Lucia Lagoon can be reached on the N2 turning off for Mtubatuba and St Lucia village on the R620. From St Lucia there is a road north to Cape Vidal which crosses the state forest where the Zululand Batis can be found.
Accommodation can be found at Cape Vidal, False Bay, Fanie's Island, Charter's Creek, Mapelane and St Lucia.
Content and images originally posted by Steve