Summer on the Western Shores of Lake Saint Lucia

After uMkhuze, Lake Saint Lucia was the next destination on the itinerary of our December bush holidays. We had only two days available to explore the area, and wanted to pack in as much as we could in that time.

Unfortunately rainy weather brought an early end to our plans of exploring the collection of walking trails around Saint Lucia town. The town is entirely surrounded by the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and it is not unusual to find hippos, antelope, warthog and even leopard roaming the streets from time to time. We had to be content driving on the outskirts of town to the beach and estuary, enjoying a meal at one of the restaurants and buying fresh fruit from the street vendors.

The 23rd of December we set aside to explore the newly opened Western Shores section of the Park, an area we have not visited before. It is accessible from either the Nhlozi Gate in the north, near the town of Hluhluwe and which provided access to the now closed camps at Fani’s Island and Charters Creek, or from the Dukuduku Gate in the south, close to St. Lucia town.

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Dukuduku Gate to the Western Shores section

 

We had hoped to spend the midday hours at Charters Creek, enjoying a picnic lunch and perhaps doing some birdwatching on the lake shore and in the surrounding woodland. Unfortunately the accommodation at Charters Creek had to be closed some years ago due to a terrible drought in the area, and we found the few remaining facilities at the disposal of day visitors in a sad state of disrepair. Not very inviting for picnics, although the wildlife and natural scenery did not disappoint. We certainly hope the Park authorities will consider reopening the camp and revamping the day visitor facilities so that Charters Creek can again become a worthwile destination and base from which to explore the Western Shores section of the Park.

Despite the let down of Charter’s Creek, we found the rest of the newly built facilities on the Western Shores to be in excellent condition, well planned and entirely worth the trip.

The road network provides access to a wide variety of scenery and habitats, as well as the wildlife that lives there; the most commonly encountered animals being reedbuck, waterbuck, kudu, giraffe, blue wildebeest and plains zebra, and we also had good sightings of rare birds like the southern banded snake eagle and osprey.

The uBhejane picnic spot has some shady trees, very welcome in the heat of summer. Just south of the picnic site, the road skirts the Kwelamadoda Pan, which was absolutely alive with a variety of waterbirds and wildlife along the shores.

Although there was little wildlife activity at the pans overlooked by the kuMgadankawu hide at the time we visited, it seems to be a place well worth stopping at during the dry season when water is less widely available elsewhere.

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kuMgadankawu hide

 

From the uMthoma Aerial Boardwalk there’s a great view over the marshes along the lake shore, not to mention the opportunity to explore the forest habitat through which the pathway and boardwalk winds.

We had a lovely day on the Western Shores of Lake Saint Lucia. The area has much to offer, and we’ll certainly be back for more.

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The road to Chane Cheese Farm (iSimangaliso 21/12/2014)

While exploring the area around Lake Saint Lucia during our December 2014 bush holidays, we based ourselves for three comfortable nights at Chane Cheese Farm, a working dairy entirely surrounded by exotic bluegum plantations just a few kilometres outside the town of Mtubatuba. From there, Saint Lucia town and the Dukuduku Gate into the Western Shores section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is an easy 20km drive away.

Chane Cheese Farm, December 2014

Chane Cheese Farm, December 2014

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25 thoughts on “Summer on the Western Shores of Lake Saint Lucia

  1. Pingback: A winter exploration of St. Lucia’s Eastern Shores | de Wets Wild

  2. Pingback: Summer at Golden Gate | de Wets Wild

  3. Pingback: Summer at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi | de Wets Wild

  4. iAMsafari.com

    Nice report and photo’s guys – we have been in St. Lucia three times now and always experienced rain – last time we’ve literally been washed off Sugarloaf camp. Despite all that we still love this part of SA though and will keep coming back!

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Die paar dae wat ons op St. Lucia was was beslis die warmste, en bedompigste, van die hele 3 weke wat ons op vakansie was Tina. Net-net onder die 40 grade in die skaduwee, en jy sal jouself kan indink hoe vogtig die lug daar langs die Noord-kus was, met reen wat elke nou-en-dan uitsak. En dit ten spyte het ons elke oomblik geniet:-D

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  5. aj vosse

    Daai bloekom bos lyk so depresief in daai wonderlike bos wereld!! Ek was jare gelede gelukkig genoeg on in Dukuduku bos te vlieg (Alouette, lugmag!) Those were the days my friend!! 😉

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Die weermag kamp is nog op dieselfde plek daar by Mtubatuba AJ. Gelukkig is die park owerheid stadig maar seker besig om die plantasies uit te haal, en dis verbasend hoe vinnig die natuurlike plantegroei weer herstel.

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  6. mjculverphotography

    Fabulously informative post again dear de Wets. Just the thing needed for a cool night in Florida. Believe it or not we’re about to get close to freezing here……..Not exactly Florida like temperatures. Both of us really enjoyed reading this and seeing all your wonderful photography. Have a super weekend dear de Wet family 🙂

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      The weather’s really screwed up these days, ain’t it guys? Two weeks ago we had snow falling on the Drakensberg (in February!) and for the past week most of the country’s been in the grip of a heatwave! You don’t know whether the take a parka or a swimming costume when you exit the front door 😉

      Thank you for the always positive contributions to our blog, dear Culvers. We hope you have a lovely Valentine’s weekend, even if it has to be indoors.

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