Western Shore iSimangaliso has many options
The Western Shore of iSimangaliso Wetland Park in Zululand, a 25000 hectares of rehabilitated wildlife area was only recently opened to the public in 2013. Unlike Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve which was established in 1895 it is newer and substantially smaller. A two hour trip around the reserve is manageable and if you so desire spend the whole day. Close by are other attractions which will culminate into a variety packed day.
Good reasons to visit the Western Shore of iSimangaliso:
- Relatively safe in certain areas to get out of the vehicle and take a stretch, enjoy a drink and picnic. Hides, picnic spots and viewing sites ensure that visitors are not always confined to the motor vehicle. Being confined is dreadful at the best of times don’t you think?
- The roads are good and accessible, easy to navigate for most vehicles. One does not need a monster of a car or a 4×4 to explore the new network of game viewing roads.
- A full day experience or perhaps a half day slow drive, or a quick in-and-out peruse – the choice is yours. Maybe a two-hour drive and then visit St. Lucia for an estuary cruise or a bite to eat in this town of signs and wonders. It is, however, a good idea to set aside a fair amount of time to award the Western Shores the justice it deserves. Book at estuary cruise here.
- The reserve is a great starter place in which to introduce children to the marvels of nature, the beauty of mammals and the interesting activities of the vervet monkeys. Maybe as adults we will learn something from the young. Tyrone, my 5 year old grandson, taught me how to call the animals by placing my hand in the centre of my forehead and chanting, calling and willing them to appear.
- Toilets and other amenities are spotlessly clean and offer a peaceful place to refresh and dab the face with cool water.
- Visibility is good and conducive to seeing wildlife as the grass is not long and the plains are open. Alien trees to Zululand and former forestry plantations have been removed so that the land could be rehabilitated allowing the re-introduction of elephant, white and black rhino, wildebeest and other species.
- Makakatana Bay Lodge is exclusive and upmarket, and the only private lodge on the Western Shore.
- The reserve is close to Empangeni and other surrounding Zululand towns and most certainly is an easy drive from Durban on the N2.
- Amenities, picnic spots and general areas are wheelchair friendly.
Entrance options to the Western Shore
uBhejane Picnic Site in the Western Shore
It is very difficult to think of a better place to enjoy morning coffee. No unnecessary noise, no loudmouths, no excessive opinions and no TV. Giraffe, the gentlemen of the bush, slowly journey past and the prehistoric looking massive grey rhino enjoys a muddy pool of water. Having coffee under an acacia tree is a humble experience, uncomplicated and free as the wind blows.
uMphathe and uMdoni Loop
The loops make for scenic drives that invite a bit of meditation. Animal and bird meditation I like to call it, as small streams and muddy pans allow for excellent game and bird viewing.
Enjoy uMthoma Aerial Boardwalk on the Western Shore
eMgadankawu Hide – Western Shore
A heavenly hide, a silent place of animal activity and a few buzzing flies. Giraffe, zebra, buffalo, warthog, water buck, all kinds of birds and the massive rhino appreciate and share the water-hole, all happy in this place of wonder. So moving that one is reduced to tears and sheer bewilderment as to why anyone would want to harm the eternally beautiful rhino.
Amazing iSimangaliso Wetland Park
The word iSimangaliso is an isiZulu word meaning “miracle and wonder” – a very apt name for an expanse of land so beautiful and free. A place of green grassland teeming with life, an estuarine system that is home to the mighty and fearless river horse, the hippo. On the horizon the coastal dunes of the Eastern Shore sets the frame for a salmon pink sunrise. This is a place where the spirit soars with the fish eagle and the soul runs with the antelope through the grass.
iNkosi Muzokhulayo Mkhwanazi, leader of the Mpukunyoni Traditional Council remarked,“ I had never imagined such beauty exists right where we live”. iNkosi Mkhwanazi, I agree with you. Sadly, many of us know so little about this brave and ancient land called Zululand.
For a good breakfast or lunch nearby visit Chane Cheese Farm between St Lucia and Mtubatuba.