This biologically diverse area in KZN offers an incredible range of activities from game and whale watching, to diving, fishing and hiking.
Sodwana Bay National Park is situated on the Maputaland Coast, or Elephant Coast, within the Unesco world heritage site of iSimangaliso Wetland Park. About a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Durban, Sodwana Bay is hard to beat as a holiday destination. Adjacent to Africa’s southern-most coral reef, it’s one of the world’s top 10 dive sites.
Almost everyone at Sodwana Bay is there for the same reason: its rich biodiversity of land and sea, where scuba diving, snorkelling, fishing, swimming, whale watching and turtle tours are the primary focus. With numerous popular dive sites and an impressive 1,200 marine species, 279 bird species, five types of turtles, sharks, whales and dolphins, it’s understandable why this area draws visitors from around the world.
Fishing is immensely popular, and ski-boaters and shore anglers have caught record billfish and sailfish here in ski-boat fishing competitions.
The wonderful thing about a holiday at Sodwana Bay is that, even if you’re not a diver or fisherman, there’s a great deal to experience. There’s a rich variety of birdlife, guided walks in fascinating landscapes, hiking on a self-guided trail, Big Five game reserve safaris or self-drives, as well as quad biking and kitesurfing.
Sodwana and surrounding areas are focused on tourism, so you’re guaranteed guided tours with guides and tour operators who make it their business to show you a wonderful time, and learning experiences (such as getting your scuba diving accreditation).
When you give Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife a call you find that Sodwana Bay accommodation and campsites get booked up quickly the day reservations open for high days and holidays. In fact, occupancy is high all year round, so don’t delay the call. Cosy log cabins and tranquil campsites are situated under a forest canopy, with easy access to the beach. There’s also private accommodation, not only in Sodwana Bay, but also in the surrounding little towns – you can go five star and fabulous, or enjoy the simple life in self-catering bungalows, camp sites and dive camps.
Sodwana Bay lies within a well-protected natural area. It’s a short drive from the uMkhuze section of iSimangaliso, which makes this a rare combination of eco-systems where humpback whales and whale sharks join the Big Five.
As a family of five, we holiday every Christmas at Sodwana Bay. The family is busy from dawn to dusk with outdoor activities and no electronic devices! I start dialling Ezemvelo’s number half an hour before bookings open for that period, as I’m terrified of missing out
-Kate Rider, Gauteng resident.
Where to stay in Sodwana Bay:
- Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
- Sodwana Bay Lodge
- Mseni Lodge
- Makakatana Bay Lodge
- Isimangaliso Wetland Park
- Lake Sibaya
- Lake St Lucia
- Imfolozi-Hluhluwe Game Reserve
Things to do in Sodwana Bay
- The ferry on Lake St Lucia
- Snorkelling at Cape Vidal
- Kayaking on Lake St Lucia estuary
- Canoe trips on Lake Sibaya
- See ragged-toothed Sharks along Quarter Mile Reef (summer).
- Turtle tours
- Horse riding on the beach or through the reserve.
- The 5km self-guided Mngobeselen Trail
This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.