This 332 000 ha park was South Africa’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located along the north coast of the KwaZulu-Natal coastline, it is about 280km north of Durban. The park encloses the St Lucia lake system, a 5km strip of ocean along the 220km coastline, and stretches inland to encompass swamp forests, coastal dunes, grassy plains and rolling hills.

The park has over 500 bird species including fish eagles and migrating colonies of pelicans and flamingos. Land based mammals include elephants, black rhinos, leopards, kudus and waterbucks. Marine animals include crocodiles, hippos, whales and turtles.

Hippos at St. Lucia estuary

The park is huge, so best focus on a specific area to visit. Most popular spots are around Lake St Lucia and Cape Vidal as well as Sodwana Bay (diving), Kosi Bay, uMkhuze (game viewing), Lake Sibaya (hippos and crocs) as well as Charter Creek and False Bay.

Accommodations range from rustic secluded camping spots and huts on wilderness trails to self-catering chalets and boutique lodges in the towns of St Lucia and Hluhluwe.

Getting there:

Self-drive is best, access from Hluhluwe or St Lucia is best. Guided game drives are available and can be booked from your accommodation.

Best for:

A combination of safari and beach. Go on self-drive game viewing and cool down in the Indian Ocean – snorkelling, swimming or fishing.

Ideal visit:

Self-drive or overland trip. Combine with a visit to the Kruger National Park and Durban.


Game viewing, diving and swimming, horse riding, turtle tours, crocodile farm, fishing, boat trips, whale watching


Summer time (November to February) can be very hot and humid.
Decide on what you want to see – this will determine which area you should visit.
St. Lucia and Cape Vidal is easily accessible with a sedan vehicle and to combine landscapes, wild animals and snorkelling.