The Elephant Coast, KwaZulu-Natal, is home to the world-renowned Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. It is characterised by untouched wetlands teeming with birdlife, Big Five bush breakaways and beautiful beaches where sea turtles return to shore to lay their eggs in one of nature’s most time-honoured ceremonies.

Did you know?

The Elephant Coast tourism hotspot, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, contains Africa's largest estuarine system.

KwaZulu-Natal's Elephant Coast is an eco-tourism destination in every sense of the word. It's renowned for its wetland and wildlife conservation efforts, both of which are major tourism drawcards.

It offers a host of eco-oriented pursuits, of which Big Five game viewing, hikes and walks, scuba diving, and sea turtle tracking are the most popular.

The Elephant Coast, KwaZulu-Natal houses two of South Africa's greatest natural institutions, the World Heritage Site iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, made famous for its rhino preservation efforts.

iSimangaliso stretches for 220 km from Cape St Lucia to the Mozambique border. It is dominated by Lake St Lucia and the St Lucia estuary with its network of coastal lakes, dunes, subtropical forests, swamps and wetland systems that provide a haven for indigenous flora and fauna, especially bird life.

The park features several reserves, including the St Lucia Game Reserve, St Lucia Marine Reserve, the Sodwana Bay National Park, Maputaland Marine Reserve, False Bay Park and Mkuze Game Reserve, all of which promise exciting game viewing.

There are countless ways to explore iSimangaliso, including hiking, walking, forest and dune trails, boat cruises, canoeing and scuba diving the spectacular coral reefs at Sodwana Bay.

Inland, the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is a conservation marvel renowned for its efforts to save the white rhino from extinction. Today it is home to more than 1 000 white rhino, lion, elephant, buffalo and leopard, providing an authentic Big Five African safari experience.

The Elephant Coast's magnificent beaches are another major attraction, not only to visitors from around the world, but also to hordes of endangered loggerhead and leatherback turtles that lay their eggs in the dunes here between November and January.

Visit Kosi Bay and Sodwana Bay and do a night-time turtle tracking tour that provides a front row seat to one of nature's greatest shows.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Tourism KwaZulu-Natal Authority
Tel: +27 (0)31 366 7500
Email: info@zulu.org.za

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Tel: +27 (0)33 845 1999
Fax: +27 (0)33 845 1699

How to get here

Fly from any of South Africa’s major cities to King Shaka International Airport, half an hour north of Durban. If you’re driving, from Johannesburg take the N2 freeway east past Ermelo to St. Lucia. From Cape Town, take the N2 freeway through Durban, and north on to St. Lucia. From Durban, take the N2 north to St. Lucia.

Best time to visit

The Elephant Coast is an all-year-round destination due to its warm climate. Visit between November and January if you wish to track turtles, and June to November for whale watching.

Tours to do

Game walks and drives at reserves in the area; Big Five game viewing at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park; snorkelling and scuba diving at Sodwana Bay; tiger fishing and boat cruises at Lake Jozini; beach-combing and turtle tracking at Kosi Bay; tours around Lake Sibaya; visiting the Emdoneni Cat Rehabilitation Centre; kayaking safari at St Lucia; whale watching at St Lucia.

Where to stay

The Elephant Coast features numerous private B&B establishments and all game viewing destinations offer a variety of accommodation options.

What to eat

Fresh seafood.

What's happening

Turtle tracking between November and January; whale watching from June to November.