When the sun rises on the Elephant Coast one of the world’s most diverse regions bursts into life. The Elephant Coast got its name from the indigenous African elephants that have lived in the sand forests of this region for centuries. With the peak of the Drakensberg mountains in the distance, the bush teeming with a wild array of birdlife, predators, and White Rhino, kilometers of untouched beaches, grasslands, wetlands, and forest you really can’t find a more wild and wonderful place. This is an absolute must-visit region for nature & adventure lovers.
Check out below the best spots to visit during a weekend getaway on the Elephant Coast.
Celebrate Heritage at the iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Previously known as St. Lucia Wetland Park, this gorgeous stretch of land and water body is South Africa’s first Natural World Heritage Site, established in 1999. iSimangaliso means miracle and wonder, which is no surprise when you consider the raw, untouched beauty of this expansive area and the fact that it was saved from dune mining.
iSimangaliso Park is the second-largest protected area in South Africa, after the Kruger National Park. The park contains 3 major lake systems and most of South Africa’s remaining swamp forests. iSimangaliso Wetland Park incorporates Lake St. Lucia, the Coastal Forest Reserve, Lake St. Lucia, Maputaland Reserves, and the Kosi Bay Nature Reserve, as well as 280km of untouched coastline.
The park encompasses a multitude of different ecosystems including coastal forests, multiple coral reefs, other marine systems, coastal plains, and dryer woodland areas. An unspoiled and diverse area brimming with life, what a blessing that this region is protected and will forever be a gem of heritage and natural history. Guests at ANEW Hotel Hluhluwe can explore the waters of St. Lucia teeming with wildlife when they book a boat cruise.
Get up close and personal with the Big 5 at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park was established in 1895 and in its previous life had been King Shaka’s private hunting grounds. This piece of land is 96 000 hectares, only 146 square kilometers smaller than Hong Kong. The park as it is today was established in order to protect the special White Rhinos native to the area. The current park is actually made up of three previously separate game reserves and has the largest population of white rhinos in the world.
In the 1920s White Rhinos were on the verge of extinction. A game conservation officer by the name of H Vaughan Kirby reported that there were only 25 white rhinos left. It is believed that he may have deliberately underreported the actual numbers in order to get government officials to take action.
And it seemed to have worked because in the 1960s the population of White Rhinos had reached a point where their high numbers made them a menace to many local communities nearby the unfenced park. Colonel Jack Vincent, the Director of the Natal Parks Board at the time instructed his rangers to examine different ways of catching and relocating the rhinos so that they could be distributed across Southern Africa. The preceding efforts to protect and relocate these special creatures have become the stuff of legends.
After much trial, error, and comedy, the rangers, led by Ian Player and assisted by Dr. Anthony Harthoorn, the vet who developed the immobilising drug M99, found a method to safely capture and move the White Rhinos. Though enhanced by modern technology this classic method is still used today. With the major success of Operation Rhino, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi has become the genetic home to every White Rhino population in the world!
Explore this iconic piece of land on an amazing safari with ANEW Hotel Hluhluwe and our expert guides can teach you more about the amazing White Rhinos. If you visit the park on a day safari, be sure to visit the Centenary Centre and its museum, where you can find out more about the amazing heritage of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.
Surrounded by breath-taking natural wonder, ANEW Hotel Hluhluwe is a gateway into the natural world. Enjoy the thrill of getting up close and personal with the raw and untamed Elephant Coast and all its resident species.