Participating in a guided launch tour of Lake St. Lucia is one of the most memorable experiences to be had in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Several operators offer tours lasting about two hours and departing at different times of the day. In this time the cruisers move about 8km up into the lake from the jetties in St. Lucia town, bringing visitors close to a variety of aquatic life and giving an interesting glimpse into the ecology of the lake system.
During our recent visit to iSimangaliso, we enjoyed a tour on the 80-seater Santa Lucia, a joint operation between Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Thompsons Tours. A cashbar on board sells drinks and snacks while a guide gives detailed explanations of the surroundings and wildlife encountered along the way. We passed several pods of hippos (witnessing one naughty youngster chewing on another tourboat), a few crocodiles, numerous birds, wildlife on the shore, got a chance to view the mangrove marshes and even saw a shark’s dorsal fin briefly break the water’s surface.
This gallery should give you some idea of what you can look forward to on a guided launch tour of Lake Saint Lucia!
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water…
Well, when it’s Lake Saint Lucia you’re talking about then it is never safe to go into the water, thanks to the hippos, crocodiles and sharks that populate this aquatic environment. Better to be safe ON the water then? Only if you don’t encounter this playful young hippo, seemingly intent on making a meal of the tourist launch!
Hungry hungry hippo!
Luckily for the tourists on the boat, mom intercedes and calls him to order, dispensing quick discipline hippo-style with a bite and a roll on top of the little delinquent.
Hippo showing enormous gape
This delightful scene played out while we were enjoying a guided launch-tour of Lake Saint Lucia aboard the Santa Lucia, during our recent visit to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. We’ll share more photos and memories from the cruise in an upcoming edition of de Wets Wild.