Maphelane Archives - Tim Brown Tours
  • 1st December 2015

    St Lucia wetlands tour

     

     

    We began our St Lucia wetlands tour in Durban where I collected my clients and we ventured in KwaZulu Natal my favourite province to tour!

    I covered the history of the area and tried to ensure my clients felt that they understood South Africa and its people from many perspectives. 

     

    We arrived in St Lucia wetlands or as its known now as Isimangaliso wetland park and began a 2 hour boat cruise on the St Lucia estuary which is a World heritage site and home to 4 of the big 5 as well as Hippos, Crocodiles and Sharks to name but a few.

     

    I am truly blessed to live in such an amazing country and honoured to show off what we have to clients from all over the world.

    As we got on the boat in St Lucia and enjoyed our first Hippos and Crocodiles and huge flock of what I counted as 69 Greater Famingoes flew over our heads. This was amazing as I have never seen so many at St Lucia. We are seeing more and more as the water levels drop.

     

     

     

     

     

    St Lucia Wetlands tour; Flamingos and Hippos

    St Lucia Wetlands tour; Flamingos and Hippos

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We then continued north up the St Lucia estuary and found a nice Crocodile resting on the shore.

     

     

     

     

     

    St Lucia Wetlands tour; Crocodile

    St Lucia Wetlands tour; Crocodile

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    It was now time for the Hippo show and we spotted about 70 -100 Hippos on this cruise which was amazing! The Hippos were mostly resting as it was so hot at 32 degrees but we got some good shots as the Hippos stirred!

     

    Our Durban tour continued and we made our way further to look at the mangrove swamps and spotted the Flamingoes feeding and even watched an African Fish eagle catch a fish.

     

     

     

     

     

    St Lucia Wetlands tour; Hippos at St Lucia

    St Lucia Wetlands tour; Hippos at St Lucia

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We then finished our cruise and made our way into St Lucia town for some seafood which was lovely and we then visited the Estuary mouth to do the St Lucia estuary board walk to the Indian ocean. The warning signs are clear and are very funny.

     

     

     

     

     

    St Lucia Wetlands tour; St Lucia danger signs

    St Lucia Wetlands tour; St Lucia danger signs

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We got onto the Estuary beach and and walked down to the ocean while looking at the worlds second largest vegetated sand dune in the world, Maphelane another attracting to the area!

     

    The day was clear and the wind was sweeping the sand onto us but it was lovely.

     

     

     

     

     

    St Lucia Wetlands tour; St Lucia Estuary beach

    St Lucia Wetlands tour; St Lucia Estuary beach

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We finished up on the beach and made our way to the Crocodile center where I took my clients on a tour around the place. After this tour it was time to head back to Durban after a very successful day and some happy clients.

     

    Arriving back in Durban after the sun had gone down we said our goodbyes after a great Durban tour.

  • 18th July 2015

    Durban day tour – St Lucia estuary – 17th July 2015

     

     

    We began our Durban day tour in Durban city. After introductions and a briefing on how the day would run we headed up to St Lucia 2.5 hour away up the North coast of KwaZulu Natal. St Lucia is South Africa’s first world heritage site and is a one of a kind place.

    At St Lucia you can come across, Hippos, Crocodiles and Zambezi Sharks! Where in the world can you get this combination?

    This is not all, seasonally Whales frequent the coastline and well as Sea Turtles to lay their eggs on the shoreline. If this wasn’t enough surrounding St Lucia is Isimangaliso wetland park a 30032 Hectare game reserve home to four of the Big five!

     

    If you are ever in the Durban area this is right up there as one of the best places to visit  and can be done in a day tour from Durban with Tim Brown Tours.

     

    Back to the day itself!

     

    After covering a lot of the History of Durban and KwaZulu Natal   we stopped for a coffee and toilet break before the final hour to St Lucia, Isimangaliso Wetland park.

    After arriving and enjoying some of the warning signs that St Lucia has about Hippos crossing at night we visited the Crocodile center. These amazing creatures have been around for millions of years with a design that is floor-less however we have noted a decline in recent years in their numbers. This is one of the reasons for the Crocodile center to educate people and to get some of these creatures back to the wild.

     

     

     

     

     

    Durban day tour; Warning sign on St Lucia estuary beach

    Durban day tour; Warning sign on St Lucia estuary beach

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    I took my clients around the center and told them about the Crocodiles, Hippos and a range of other things. It was then time to head down to the Estuary of St Lucia for our 2 hour boat cruise.

     

    We began and there was Hippos every where what was really good on this day tour was that we also saw a lot of Crocodiles which in not a guarantee.

     

     

     

     

     

    Durban day tour; Big pod of Hippo

    Durban day tour; Big pod of Hippo

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    It is only due to the fact that boat have traversed these rich waters of St Lucia for many years that we have the privilege of viewing the amazing dangerous animals so close without incident. The Hippos in this sections of 8 kilometers of river are used to the boats and this enables us to enjoy amazing sightings of them. We always have to remember that Hippos are wild animals and kill around about 3000 people per year in Africa!

     

     

     

     

    Durban day tour; Crocodile hiding

    Durban day tour; Crocodile hiding

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The above picture was a Crocodile we found near the shoreline of St Lucia and it was so well hidden in the long grass! So lovely to see it though! We did see better Crocodiles but this picture just looked amazing.

     

    As we continued up stream we came across a wide range of Bird life which is something else St Lucia estuary has to offer visitors. St Lucia is am idea place for birders to come and spot special birds they do not see every day.

    We spotted this Goliath Heron fishing near the shoreline, this is the tallest heron in the world!

     

     

     

     

    Durban day tour; Goliath Heron

    Durban day tour; Goliath Heron

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    A bit later on we managed to spot some Hippos on the shore and two of them had a little fight with one another. It was one of those moment you don’t expect so you miss most of it when you get you camera ready but it was amazing!

     

     

     

     

     

    Durban day tour; Hippos fighting

    Durban day tour; Hippos fighting

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    As we continued our Durban day tour we spotted more birds and I am sure birders would always be happy to see this one, the Giant Kingfisher! If you are interest we can offer birding tours of KwaZulu Natal from Durban.

     

     

     

     

    Durban day tour; Giant Kingfisher

    Durban day tour; Giant Kingfisher

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We began our way back to the jetty and on route spotted more Hippos and Crocodiles and had a special sighting of baby Hippos out the water on the shore resting. It is always amazing to see this but even more special when it is babies so I had to also make a little video.

     

     

     

    Durban day tour; Baby Hippos out the water

    Durban day tour; Baby Hippos out the water

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Video: Hippo babies at St Lucia wetlands during our Durban day tour

     

     

     

     

     

    We almost got to the dock and we spotted some Pink backed Pelicans which we don’t see very often this far up the estuary so it was a real treat. If we had birder on this Durban day tour they would have loved to see these birds. Maybe will have to start a KwaZulu Natal birding tour.

     

     

     

     

    Video: Pink backed Pelicans at St Lucia estuary during our Durban day tour

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    After docking the boat at the St Lucia jetty we made our way into St Lucia town to enjoy the vibe of this beach resort at the back end of school holidays. We stopped for some lunch which was great and then made our way to the Estuary board walk where we would walk down onto the estuary beach and enjoy the views as well as seeing Maphelane the second highest vegetated sand dune in the world.

     

     

     

     

     

    Durban day tour; St Lucia estuary

    Durban day tour; St Lucia estuary

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We continued with our Durban day tour to St Lucia wetlands and got onto the beach and down to the Indian ocean which was looking amazing on this particular day! With Maphelane in the back ground it made for a beautiful picture. This is a special place for me and I love visiting St Lucia, maybe you should too!

     

    Join the St Lucia day tour from Durban click here!

     

     

     

  • 14th May 2015

    Day trip from Durban to St Lucia wetlands 13th May 2015

     

    I collected my client from Hillcrest, West of Durban city center and we began our 3 hour drive up to Isimangeliso wetland park aka St Lucia Wetland park South Africa’s first world heritage site.

    On route I covered the history of Durban, kwaZulu Natal and South Africa as well as the history of St Lucia and the surrounding area.

     

    We arrived in St Lucia for the early boat cruise at 09:15 and got settled in to enjoy the day and the 2 hour ride on the boat.

     

    We had some amazing sightings of Hippos and Crocodiles so much so that the videos I took I had to put in this blog post. Before we got to the Estuary I must mention we stopped to look at a sign I always like to show my clients, see below:

     

     

     

     

    Durban day tour; St Lucia interesting sign for Hippos

    Durban day tour; St Lucia interesting sign for Hippos

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Once we got going on the boat cruise on our day trip from Durban we spotted some Hippos and a couple of Crocodiles and lots of bird life. The water on the estuary was like glass it was so smooth.

     

     

     

     

     

    Durban day tour; Nile Crocodile in St Lucia estuary

    Durban day tour; Nile Crocodile in St Lucia estuary

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    These amazing creatures the Crocodile have around 45 replacements of teeth in their lifetime which can span 100 years depending on what they eat and where they are found.

    The best way of aging a Crocodile is by cutting on of the ridges off the back and counting the number of rings on it like you would do with a tree.

     

    Further up stream there was Hippos and lots of them.

     

     

     

     

     

    Video – Durban day tour – Hippos calling at St Lucia


     

     

     

    Durban day tour; Pod of Hippos showing aggression

    Durban day tour; Pod of Hippos showing aggression

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Video – Day trip from Durban – Pod of Hippos get aggressive with each other

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We also captured this photo of a Goliath heron in flight over the estuary which was really beautiful.

     

     

     

     

     

    Durban day tour; Goliath heron in flight over St Lucia estuary

    Durban day tour; Goliath heron in flight over St Lucia estuary

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Our cruise of St Lucia Estuary continued and we spotted a Goliath Heron walking on the backs of Hippos which was great. I even made a video, the only problem was I missed the best moment. Just as I stopped the video one Hippo lunged at the Goliath Heron almost grabbing it in its mouth! It was amazing to see!

     

     

     

    Video – Durban day trip – Goliath Heron walks on the back of the Hippos


     

     

     

     

     

     

    Durban day tour; Goliath heron walking on Hippos backs

    Durban day tour; Goliath heron walking on Hippos backs

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    We were lucky on the Durban day trip to also get a Hippos on a couple of occasions with its mouth open. This is usually a sign of aggression and to tell us not to get any closer. The Hippos here have had the boats around them for 30 years so they are used to us but that does not mean they wont express their feelings.

     

     

     

     

     

    Video -Durban day safari tour – Hippo bulls size each other up

    Durban day tour; Hippo with mouth open

    Durban day tour; Hippo with mouth open

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Video – Durban day tour – Hippo marks his territory


     

     

    At we made our way back we saw the second largest vegetated sand dune in the world Maphelane South of the Estuary. We also were lucky enough to see an African Fish eagle perched on a branch.

     

     

     

     

     

    Durban day tour; African fish eagle

    Durban day tour; African fish eagle

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    After the amazing 2 hours on the St Lucia estuary we made our way through St Lucia town to the Estuary mouth for the board walk which goes to the Indian ocean. It is a lovely walk and from here you can see Maphelane, the Indian ocean, the national park/World heritage site and the Estuary!

     

     

     

     

    Durban day tour; Maphelane and the Indian ocean

    Durban day tour; Maphelane and the Indian ocean

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    After showing my client on our Durban day tour/trip the Titanium in the sand and venturing onto the beach we returned into St Lucia town for some lunch and then made our way to the Crocodile breeding center at the other end of St Lucia.

     

    Here we saw lots of Crocodile and I run over some of the information of the area and why the Crocodiles are being bred etc. Here too there are interesting signs like this one below:

     

     

     

     

    Durban day tour; St Lucia interesting sign for crocodiles

    Durban day tour; St Lucia interesting sign for crocodiles

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    It was not the end of the time in St Lucia and we had to get the clients back early as they were meeting family for dinner. When ever I leave a tour early something always happens to make it a longer day than usual and today was no different. What was a 3 hour trip back to Durban took up over 4.5 hour because of one accident on the highway! Can you believe it. Non the less it was still worth it as we all had a great time and the tour from Durban was a huge success.