We arrived late one afternoon in St Lucia on the east coast of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, the nearest town to the Isimangaliso Wetland Park (isimangaliso.com). iSimangaliso means ‘miracle and wonder’ in the local language, perhaps because of the wealth of wildlife to be seen there.
At night, the town is invaded by Hippopotamus which come to feed on the town’s parks, leaving the river where the Egrets roost and the Tour Boats moor up. They are easily annoyed by unwary tourists!
We set off early the next morning to visit the park, travelling in a large safari truck – to intimidate the Rhinoceros we were told – with a ranger guide who had an amazing knack of spotting small creatures like this moth as well as large creatures like waterbuck, a marsh living antelope, zebra and buffalo of which we were warned to be careful because of their bad temper.
As we drove down the road beside the river where the crocodiles lazed, our guide pointed out various birds, like the Grey Headed Kingfisher, the Collared Sunbird and the Brown Snake Eagle perched on a post looking for food.
First we saw a small cloud on a hill further along the road. Then we smelt burning. As we got closer we realised it was a huge bush fire that some rangers were trying to contain. When we got very close our guide suddenly spotted something small on the road at risk of being burnt to death. He leapt out of the safari truck to rescue it and brought us a little chameleon to see. Then he put it in some bushes on the safe side of the road away from the fire.
It was a great relief to get down to the beautiful coast where people were relaxing and Humpback whales can sometimes be seen … and we could have a leisurely picnic for lunch.