WHS Quest: St. Lucia

I figured this sign pretty much proves I was there. Understated and to the point, this sign gets a A+ for accuracy.

My entire vacation over this past break was really two vacations bundled into one. There was the time in St. Lucia where I got the outdoors craving fulfilled and then there was the time in Durban where I saw many other Peace Corps volunteers and spent far too much money and stayed too long doing expensive things. This post is about the former.

This is what St. Lucia is all about: tiny little hippos balancing on-top of drumsticks on top of crocs. Seriously though, I'm glad they had a sign that warned everybody that hippos and crocs are constantly bickering back and forth all day long.

The idea is that I go to all of the World Heritage sites in South Africa. The more I think about it, there are going to be a couple of really challenging ones to get to but I think I can do it. The first on the list was the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. More specifically, I went to St. Lucia which is only a small section of the entire wetland. Nevertheless, I got a good bit of exploring done and manged to see a few of the different environments of the park. Getting up to the wetland was pretty straightforward. As straightforward as jumping several taxis can be I suppose. The basic recipe: go to one town, ask for the taxi to St. Lucia, be led to the taxi, wait and sweat and be sweated on while traveling, repeat until you arrive in St. Lucia. I traveled there alone which may be a big no-no but I manged just fine. Going to a new place is an adventure, the normal frustrations and tedium of taxi drives is at least partially mollified.

St. Lucia is in Zululand so it was a treat to hear and see that culture, the little that I did. These boys were very smartly set-up right at the ferry dock and seemed to make a good amount from the people coming off the boats. "What is Zulu male dancing like" you ask? Zulu male dancing focuses on the showy high kicks.

An African Eagle. Majestic, graceful, and a terrible fisher-eagle, which is why I was able to get this picture. It tried several times to grab at something unsuccessfully, it failed in style though.

While the area was absolutely gorgeous, the town of St. Lucia which is the launching off point for just about every part of the wetland, is a bit touristy. I did not have any qualms with this though. I could see how it could wear on you but I enjoyed the conveniences while I was there. It also happens to be a very popular Afrikaner family vacationing spot, so I was a bit out of place. This being the case, most of the tours and packages were geared towards families and people who make money so again I was a out of luck. I still managed to find plenty to do for the time I was there.

St. Lucia in a photo. That's a baby croc on top of a hippo giving a nice yawn. The ferry boat guide said he had never seen it before but I am sure he says that too all the ferry cruise patrons. I was a little disappointed that there weren't any crocs and hippos dancing ballet to the Dance of the Hours. Fantasia really warped my expectations out there.

One of the larger pods of hippos. There were so many there that by the end of the trip, I was no longer astounded by seeing enormous hippos out in the wild. What you see them doing there is what they do most of the day. Watch out cats and sloths, you have a rival for "laziest creature in the world".

So what do people do in St. Lucia? The short answer is "lots". Close-by and most famously, is the estuary which is home to an impressive number of hippos and crocodiles. There were a couple of ferries that did short jaunts a couple of times a day. A very entertaining and worthwhile experience for sure. While the crocodiles were more elusive (I didn't get a nice picture of any), the hippos are very easily seen. In fact, I would think it is impossible to go there and not see any hippos. There were guided tours to the close by game parks iMfolozi and Hluhluwe which I did go to but will talk about in another post. There were trips to snorkel, to see leather back turtles, to deep sea fish, to kayak, to go to other popular spots in the park like Sodwana Bay and Cape Vidal, and night drives. I didn't do any of these things, I am sure they are quite fun but they were simply not in the budget.

The fruit stalls. Definitely one of my favorite parts of the town- beautiful to look at, pleasing to smell, delicious to eat. I survived off of liche and mango for a few days.

I now know that there are creatures that lay their eggs in mangoes. Those white things on the right are maggots. Hey guys, if the mango is a little mushy, just throw that one away. I took it easy on the mangoes after this one.

Besides the ferry cruise, I went to the beach and went hiking everyday. It was everything I could want out of the vacation. There were enough trails that I hiked for hours every day without going on the same trail. And although it was very crowded, there was hardly a soul on the trails which was fine by me. The beach was not the finest in the world. It had the bare minimum requirements to make it a beach, these things being the ocean and sand but it's proximity to the estuary made the water brackish and absolutely clogged with hippo poop. Also, I fell asleep on the beach for a little too long the first day I was there and the South African sun let me know that I am not completely resistant to sunburns. Turns out my gin and tonics proved useful for another reason other than preventing malaria: numbing the senses!


This sign gave me pause. Although I new it would be extremely unlikely that I would run into any of the animals the sign was warning me about, I still had to take a few focusing breaths before I crossed the threshold. Best case scenario: I see a leopard or something from a distance and escape with all my limbs attached. Worst case scenario: I get mauled immediately. Ultimate Awesomeness Case Scenario: I encounter a buffalo, rhino, hippo, elephant, leopard and crocodile that have all teamed up and I fight them off gaining their respect and earn the King of St. Lucia title.

Hippos tracks. I could tell from my years as a hippo tracker. Also there were hippos across the river so I kind of assumed.

One of my favorite moments of hiking. Came through a copse of trees to see this. Nice spot for lunch.

I enjoyed the place quite a bit. I certainly was ready to leave when I did because I did just about everything there was to do without spending money in the place. I am ready for the next WHS site. With my sister coming next week I am hoping to knock out the two located close to Cape Town.

Socks and Underwear: WHS Quest: St. Lucia

Saturday, February 26, 2011

WHS Quest: St. Lucia

I figured this sign pretty much proves I was there. Understated and to the point, this sign gets a A+ for accuracy.

My entire vacation over this past break was really two vacations bundled into one. There was the time in St. Lucia where I got the outdoors craving fulfilled and then there was the time in Durban where I saw many other Peace Corps volunteers and spent far too much money and stayed too long doing expensive things. This post is about the former.

This is what St. Lucia is all about: tiny little hippos balancing on-top of drumsticks on top of crocs. Seriously though, I'm glad they had a sign that warned everybody that hippos and crocs are constantly bickering back and forth all day long.

The idea is that I go to all of the World Heritage sites in South Africa. The more I think about it, there are going to be a couple of really challenging ones to get to but I think I can do it. The first on the list was the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. More specifically, I went to St. Lucia which is only a small section of the entire wetland. Nevertheless, I got a good bit of exploring done and manged to see a few of the different environments of the park. Getting up to the wetland was pretty straightforward. As straightforward as jumping several taxis can be I suppose. The basic recipe: go to one town, ask for the taxi to St. Lucia, be led to the taxi, wait and sweat and be sweated on while traveling, repeat until you arrive in St. Lucia. I traveled there alone which may be a big no-no but I manged just fine. Going to a new place is an adventure, the normal frustrations and tedium of taxi drives is at least partially mollified.

St. Lucia is in Zululand so it was a treat to hear and see that culture, the little that I did. These boys were very smartly set-up right at the ferry dock and seemed to make a good amount from the people coming off the boats. "What is Zulu male dancing like" you ask? Zulu male dancing focuses on the showy high kicks.

An African Eagle. Majestic, graceful, and a terrible fisher-eagle, which is why I was able to get this picture. It tried several times to grab at something unsuccessfully, it failed in style though.

While the area was absolutely gorgeous, the town of St. Lucia which is the launching off point for just about every part of the wetland, is a bit touristy. I did not have any qualms with this though. I could see how it could wear on you but I enjoyed the conveniences while I was there. It also happens to be a very popular Afrikaner family vacationing spot, so I was a bit out of place. This being the case, most of the tours and packages were geared towards families and people who make money so again I was a out of luck. I still managed to find plenty to do for the time I was there.

St. Lucia in a photo. That's a baby croc on top of a hippo giving a nice yawn. The ferry boat guide said he had never seen it before but I am sure he says that too all the ferry cruise patrons. I was a little disappointed that there weren't any crocs and hippos dancing ballet to the Dance of the Hours. Fantasia really warped my expectations out there.

One of the larger pods of hippos. There were so many there that by the end of the trip, I was no longer astounded by seeing enormous hippos out in the wild. What you see them doing there is what they do most of the day. Watch out cats and sloths, you have a rival for "laziest creature in the world".

So what do people do in St. Lucia? The short answer is "lots". Close-by and most famously, is the estuary which is home to an impressive number of hippos and crocodiles. There were a couple of ferries that did short jaunts a couple of times a day. A very entertaining and worthwhile experience for sure. While the crocodiles were more elusive (I didn't get a nice picture of any), the hippos are very easily seen. In fact, I would think it is impossible to go there and not see any hippos. There were guided tours to the close by game parks iMfolozi and Hluhluwe which I did go to but will talk about in another post. There were trips to snorkel, to see leather back turtles, to deep sea fish, to kayak, to go to other popular spots in the park like Sodwana Bay and Cape Vidal, and night drives. I didn't do any of these things, I am sure they are quite fun but they were simply not in the budget.

The fruit stalls. Definitely one of my favorite parts of the town- beautiful to look at, pleasing to smell, delicious to eat. I survived off of liche and mango for a few days.

I now know that there are creatures that lay their eggs in mangoes. Those white things on the right are maggots. Hey guys, if the mango is a little mushy, just throw that one away. I took it easy on the mangoes after this one.

Besides the ferry cruise, I went to the beach and went hiking everyday. It was everything I could want out of the vacation. There were enough trails that I hiked for hours every day without going on the same trail. And although it was very crowded, there was hardly a soul on the trails which was fine by me. The beach was not the finest in the world. It had the bare minimum requirements to make it a beach, these things being the ocean and sand but it's proximity to the estuary made the water brackish and absolutely clogged with hippo poop. Also, I fell asleep on the beach for a little too long the first day I was there and the South African sun let me know that I am not completely resistant to sunburns. Turns out my gin and tonics proved useful for another reason other than preventing malaria: numbing the senses!


This sign gave me pause. Although I new it would be extremely unlikely that I would run into any of the animals the sign was warning me about, I still had to take a few focusing breaths before I crossed the threshold. Best case scenario: I see a leopard or something from a distance and escape with all my limbs attached. Worst case scenario: I get mauled immediately. Ultimate Awesomeness Case Scenario: I encounter a buffalo, rhino, hippo, elephant, leopard and crocodile that have all teamed up and I fight them off gaining their respect and earn the King of St. Lucia title.

Hippos tracks. I could tell from my years as a hippo tracker. Also there were hippos across the river so I kind of assumed.

One of my favorite moments of hiking. Came through a copse of trees to see this. Nice spot for lunch.

I enjoyed the place quite a bit. I certainly was ready to leave when I did because I did just about everything there was to do without spending money in the place. I am ready for the next WHS site. With my sister coming next week I am hoping to knock out the two located close to Cape Town.

1 Comments:

Blogger Sixkiller librarian said...

Neato!

February 26, 2011 at 12:18 PM  

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