Tuesday, 22 January 2008 07:09

EKZN Lakes and Beaches Featured

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LAKESNatural lakes in KwaZulu-Natal are confined to the north-east coastal plain and all of the water bodies large enoughto warrant this description are contained within the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park.The park system extends from the Mozambique border for more than 220 km south to Cape St Lucia.The width of the land portion varies from 1 km to 24 km. A Marine reserve component of 5km wide extends155km along the length of the coast. The Park comprises the last remaining subtropical area containing its originaldiverse components of wild plants and animals on the south-eastern coast of Africa, and one of the last remainingin the world. Within the site are exceptional wetland, terrestrial and marine ecosystems with complement of speciesand migratory species. Landscapes are outstanding and the geomorphological processes by which they are formedare believed to be of universal importance given their evolution subsequent to the fragmentation of the Gondwanasuper-continent.The five interlinked ecosystems found in the park are:1)     a marine system, characterised by a warm sea, the southernmost extension of coral reefs in Africa, subma       rine canyons, and long sandy beaches;2)     a coastal dune system consisting of high linear dunes, sub-tropical forests, grassy plains and wetlands;3)     lake systems including two estuary-linked lakes, St Lucia and Kosi, and four large freshwater lakes, Sibaya,       Ngobezeleni, Bhangazi north and Bhangazi south;4)     the Mkhuze and Umfolozi swamps, with swamp forests, extensive reeds and papyrus Swamps;5)     an inland system which includes ancient shoreline terraces and dry savannah woodlands.The many ecological linkages between these ecosystems have created an area of almost unrivalled natural diversityand beauty.The Greater St Lucia area has a long history of conservation, dating back as far as 1895 when the first reserveswere created along the shores of St Lucia. BEACHESExperience a sense of wilderness and tranquility at our beaches that are, as they were since time immemorial, pris-tine and splendid.Fishermen, scuba divers and snorkellers will find these warm water destinations a paradise. Clear waters allowscuba divers and snorkellers a glimpse of the rich diversity of life on the rock and coral reefs along this shoreline.With convenient launch sites at all coastal resorts, ski-boaters and shore anglers have the opportunity to catch avariety of fish in waters that teem with the marine equivalent of the big five, including massive marlin and othergame fish.Short designated trails wander through the coastal forest and reward the visitor with sightings of many birds andsmall mammals.Visit Sodwana Bay, Cape Vidal and St Lucia Estuary in the summer months from November to March and enjoy theunique opportunity to view the magnificent loggerhead and leatherback turtles in their safe breeding haven.Enter the fascinating world of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site. This 250 000 ha of lakes,islands and estuaries is a RAMSAR wetland of international importance and is home to the Nile crocodile, more than800 hippo and an astonishing diversity of ecosystems, birds and wildlife.
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