Did you know?
Lake Sibaya is home to 22 species of frogs and 8 reptiles.
Lake Sibaya, named as one of the 10 jewels of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, is the largest freshwater lake in South Africa.
It is around 70 square kilometres in size and lies in the tropical north-eastern quadrant of KwaZulu-Natal. Lake Sibaya was once at the mouth of a mighty river, and was open to the sea. Many years ago, though, things changed.
Now, a high forested duneland divides Lake Sibaya from the coastline. Surrounding it is the thickly vegetated iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site – 1 of the country’s 3 first World Heritage Sites, declared in December 1999. (The other 2 are the Cradle of Humankind and Robben Island.)
Although its clear blue waters may look cool and appealing, Lake Sibaya is not a good place to swim and crocodiles and hippos paddle about in startlingly large numbers.
The lake has had little development pressure, and is considered near pristine, with over 100km of unspoilt shoreline. In addition to being part of a World Heritage Site, Sibaya is also a Ramsar wetland of international importance.
This lake has been been cut off from the ocean for so long that certain fish that were marine in origin have evolved to become unique freshwater specimens and are near-endemics at Lake Sibaya. There are many interesting cichlids and gobies, along with various tilapias and mouthbrooders.
For birders, Lake Sibaya (or Sibhayi or Sibayi, as it is also known) is paradise. Here you can find 279 species of rather special birds, including that rare vegetarian bird of prey – the palmnut vulture. You might also see the elusive Pel’s fishing owl, the pygmy goose, bat hawk, yellow white-eye, the rufous-bellied heron and Woodward’s batis.
You’ll almost certainly see the malachite, pied and giant kingfishers, flamingoes by the dozen, black-winged stilts, white-fronted sand plovers, spoonbills, swamp hens, crakes and bitterns.
Apart from the more or less unmissable crocodiles and hippos, keep an eye open for smaller creatures like water mongooses, reedbuck, samango monkeys, red squirrels and endangered blue duikers.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
iSimangaliso Wetland Park
Tel: +27 (0)35 590 1633
Fax: +27 (0)35 590 1602