Saturday, May 24, 2014

South Africa's first World Heritage Site

This past holiday in South Africa, once Grant and I had returned from our bike tour down the Cape, we collected our friend Rina from the bus stop in a nearby town, packed the car and set out for a road trip around Kwa-Zulu Natal.

We left very early on a Saturday morning, stopping about two thirds into the journey for our breakfast. Rina had made meatballs, I'd boiled eggs and made a cheese and tomato sandwiches; and Grant made a flask of black coffee (no sugar for me) and a flask of black coffee with sugar for him and Rina. This is an old-fashioned - and - somewhat - outdated mode of eating on the road; it's called "padkos" which roughly translates as "road food". Nowadays there are so many fast-food restaurants and quick-shops attached to the fuel filling stations, that people tend to use these instead of going to the trouble of making food for the road! I grew up with padkos and Grant and I even take padkos on our bike trips. This causes quite a few interested comments from passers-by when we eat our sandwiches from the Tupperware container (on the bike seat) and drink coffee from our silver two-cup flask!

At 9am we stopped at our first port of call in Durban: Grant's mum had a birthday the next day which always falls on Mothers Day. We took her a box of groceries and toiletries and a couple of gifts for her great day of turning 85!

Next stop was up the north coast at Salt Rock. There we stopped to say hi to Grant's brother, Chil and his wife, Shelly (who kindly helps me with birding) and her daughter Kerry. 

After a quick cup of coffee we took to the N2 to St Lucia, Zululand,  which is now a toll road and an absolute pleasure to ride. In the twelve years we lived in Zululand, the trip between St Lucia in the north and Durban in the south, both on the Indian Ocean, was a single carriage road. Situated in a sugar-cane belt, it was used extensively by long-haul sugar cane trucks and you, driving a sedan or pick-up truck, had to keep your wits about you to avoid having an accident. 

We spent the first night in a beautiful B&B on the St Lucia estuary. Next morning we stocked up with groceries from the local supermarket and headed for Cape Vidal. We hadn't been to this resort since 1997 and had been declared a World Heritage Site; in fact South Africa's first World Heritage Site! It's official name is The iSimangaliso Wetland Park

In the late eighties this wetland and bush was saved by petitioners from being mined (see here) and in December 1999 was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site at which Nelson Mandela was a guest of honor.  The area is vast;  332 000 ha in extent, stretching from St Lucia (south) to Kosi Bay in the north and encompassing Sodwana bay, Lake Sibaya, and the Umkhuze game reserves, three major lake systems, and eight interlinking ecosystems. 

We were pleasantly surprised by the natural bush and plentiful wildlife which we spotted soon after passing through the boom gate. The critically-endangered rhino was our first [exciting] sighting. 
Our first sighting at Cape Vidal was this magnificent rhino which my sister-in-law, Shelley identified as a black rhino. (black rhino are extremely rare, although they do exist in this reserve, this was a good sighting)
Herds of zebra every few meters provided good photo ops for me! 

Several species of buck (antelope) caused many stops. Grant and I don't know many buck in SA  but think this may be a male Waterbuck. 
Although the blue vervet monkeys are a serious pest in the campsites and around the chalets, I just loved photographing them. Above is a family of dad, mom and baby monkey (I just loved the line-up of tails!)

After supper on the first evening, we strolled up the road and through the campsite. Along the way Rina spotted a spider's web in a tree above us. Only once I'd downloaded the photos, did I realize that I'd snapped a huge female with a miniscule male behind her. 
 A large spider with a tiny male in the web behind her

I'm linking my post today to Eileen's Saturday Critters which you can visit by clicking here

This is my first weekend back in Mwadui and Grant and I will be going out birding this morning. I hope you're all having a great weekend.  


  1. What a wonderful trip and with a good friend as well!! Thanks as always, Jo, for sharing!! Enjoy the remainder of your weekend!!

  2. Hi Jo, great trip you had! Happy Birthday to your MIL. I'm sure she appreciated all the goodies. I absolutely love all the wildlife photos. What a fortuitous moment when you captured all the monkey tails lined up so nicely for the photo, lol. Have a wonderful weekend. xx

  3. Glad you're back, and I'll bet the cats are, too.
    SO happy about the World Heritage Site. Makes such a difference in conservation efforts, we've noticed in other places.
    Hugs to you, the cats, the dog, and (now that I've known him for a few years) to Grant, also.
    Oh, and I'm hoping to see Penny Joy this summer when I go to Vancouver for a reunion, if we can coordinate our timing.
    Luv, K

  4. Hi Jo What a wonderful trip you both had. When I go out with my bird group we always take a picnic with us and we love it. In the past I have made 3 course picnic with table cloth etc. Now that is living the out doors. Anyway, your shots are all wonderful and As I am going to Malawi in August, I am learning from them

  5. just marvelous creatures! (loved the tiny male spider.) :)

  6. Thanks for taking us along Jo. The wonders of your homeland never cease to amaze me.

  7. Loved the days we spent at iSimangaliso and St Lucia is a sweet town.

    Definitely a waterbuck.

  8. Hello Jo, I am catching up after being away myself.. I love all your animals, awesome sightings. And the female with the tiny male spider is a cool capture. Thank you so much for linking up to my critter party.. Have a happy day!


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo