The Elephant Coast covers a beautiful stretch of coastline in KwaZulu-Natal, ranging from just below St. Lucia in the south to the border of Mozambique in the north. This area is one of the last remaining untouched places that exists within South Africa.
The reason for this coastline’s name is that the largest indigenous elephant herd in South Africa still grazes and lives within the sand forest, as they have for thousands of years. There are many diverse species of game, birds, and fish still thriving in an environment that remains largely unchanged by time and human influence. There are 21 distinct eco-systems set within several nature reserves, ensuring this beautiful area stays as is for our children’s children to enjoy.
There is a diverse range of activities available here, so keep reading to find out the best places for adventure, exploration, education or relaxation.
Within the greater area of St. Lucia you will find Cape Vidal, which offers one of the best whale viewing spots along the entire eastern coastline! You can also enjoy snorkelling amid the colourful fish or, if you’re so inclined, do some deep-sea fishing off the coastline. If you’re up for the challenge, you could attempt to discover the wreck of the still-lost Dorothea which sunk off the coast in 1898, and is rumoured to have been carrying gold doubloons. Please note: It is only safe to snorkel here during Low Tide.
The intricate pattern of intertwining lakes and waterways makes this area both peaceful and pristine, though the name is a bit of a misnomer as the closest beach is 30km away. If you view these waterways from the air, you’ll see shimmery silver strands criss-crossing the water. These are traditional, eco-sustainable fish traps that the local tribe of Thonga’s put out, crafted in the same way that their forefathers did. Guided game drives into the Tembe Elephant Reserve are well worth doing, as wildlife within include lions, white and black rhinos, elephants, and giraffe.
The best place to scuba dive amid tropical fish is in Sodwana Bay’s warm waters, at one of their three reefs. Loggerhead and leatherback turtles come here in the summer months to lay their eggs. Though the area is not as developed as the rest of the country, it is a beautiful place to see and is perfect if you’re looking for miles of unspoilt beach to stroll along. There are several great accommodations, restaurants, and bars in this area.
The Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve is the oldest of its kind in South Africa. Here you can go game viewing and enjoy the unspoilt serenity of the lush bush, which has an abundance of birdlife. There are several self-guided trails available that have information boards about both the natural history and management of this game reserve; these self-guided trails are best walked in the early evenings, or early mornings. Guides are also available to help educate visitors.
About the Author: Roseanna McBain is an avid outdoor lover, who works for the Elephant Coast accommodation and booking agency, Travelground.com.