St Lucia

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After this delightful day in the wild again we headed for St Lucia where we were booked in for the night at the Lalapanzi Lodge. I was looking forward to this since I am sentimental about this particular guest house after a very pleasant previous visit there. So join  me for a look at all the animals that we saw at close range...and then once more the enjoyment of a meal after we had settle in at Lalapanzi Lodge at a restaurant called the "Quarterdeck." 

Lalapanzi

The sing-song name "Lalapanzi" interested me since I first heard it so I therefore asked the owner of the guesthouse to explain the meaning to me  and she told me the little story of how they decided about the name.... 

Lalapanzi means *sleeping on the ground*. At the time when the first owners started the guest house they only had two rooms available for guests in their house. It was around Christmas time and they also invited some family over for the Christmas weekend and decided to make a plan with sleeping arrangements because the two guest rooms were booked for the weekend. However when the guests that booked arrived it was not the 4 people that they expected but 8 plus a driver and a tour guide!! Needles to say over a Christmas weekend there was NO other accommodation available in St Lucia!!

Well after a lot of talking and heated arguments to and fro they made the house available to the guests and the family slept in the garage with the owners. The bus driver and tour guide had to sleep on the floor in the lounge! And so they spent the Christmas weekend! 

After that the staff working at the guest house called the incident *Lalapanzi* and that made the owners change the name from "Hen's Nest" to Lalapanzi!
 

Well we did NOT sleep on the ground but enjoyed the lovely accommodation, the brilliant pool and the lovely gardens - all accompanied by the  hospitality of the friendly manager, Mariëtte and a wonderful breakfast on the patio overlooking the sub-tropical garden.

Lalapanzi guesthouse, St Lucia

 Lalapanzi:

the gardens,

the pool,

 the breakfast,

 the balcony...

and 

dinner,

 Quarterdeck restaurant,  St Lucia

Beautiful tropical garden of Lalapanzi

Lalpanzi - showing my favourite balcony...

Lalapanzi again- why do I like this place so much???

Patsi and Rose at the poolside before breakfast

A hearty breakfast at Lalapanzi

 

Excellent dinner at the Quarterdeck. St Lucia

 

St Lucia Wetland Park and World Heritage Site

Wetland panorama

A view of the St Lucia marshes and vegetated dunes

The St Lucia Wetland Park is nothing short of a magical place of shimmering lakes and rivers, forests, bush and pristine sea shore. It is one of three World Heritage Sites in South Africa and one of the most un-spoilt wilderness areas left on the African continent. This 9 000 square kilometres (3 475 square miles) wonderland of evergreen woodland, lake, savanna, river and floodplain sustains a remarkable variety of floral and wildlife habitats.

Two major geophysical features determined the character of the region. About 100 million years ago the area lay beneath the ocean, which over the millennia, retreated to leave a broad, sandy plain and a scatter of shallow depressions. These gathered fresh water from the rivers to form lakes that are now such a spectacular feature of the region. It is also the meeting place of tropical and sub-tropical zones which account in part for its many ecosystems and the extraordinary variety of plants animals and birds.

 Lake St Lucia is in reality an extended estuarine system that runs parallel to the seashore divided by some of the earth’s highest vegetated dunes. The lake’s waters are shallow, averaging just a metre in depth and therefore the ideal habitat for hippo, uncountable numbers of fish, crustaceans, insects and other nutritious organisms that attracts great numbers of aquatic birds – among them flamingoes, white pelicans, saddlebills, Caspian terns, spoonbills and twelve species of heron as well as the beautiful African Fish eagle and many colourful kingfishers. Oh!! Too many birds to name!

Something that I will also want to go back to see is the giant leatherback sea turtles that come ashore north of St Lucia to breed (in the summer months). I read that: “these animals travel enormous distances through the ocean to reach their ancestral breeding grounds, guided to their pre-ordained destination with uncanny precision by an impulse mechanism implanted at birth. Mating takes place a short distance out to sea, and then the female makes her ponderous way through the reefs and intertidal zone to the beach in quest of a scent, a distinctive smell that surrounded her when she herself was a hatchling".

Mortality amongst the turtles is extremely high. Only one of every 500 that reach the water is thought, will evade death to return as an adult. Sadly, many that do survive fall prey to man’s appetites and vanities: valued for their meat, their eggs, the oil in their bodies, the shells used for ornamentation and as talismans, they were slaughtered in their multitudes and at one stage they were perilously close to regional extinction.” (From: “Presenting South Africa” by Peter Joyce) 

Fortunately the Natal Parks Board stepped in to rescue them and the turtles are now returning to the beaches in increasing numbers. Therefore I made another promise to myself that I will go back one day to go on one of those night time tours to observe how hundreds of these little turtles struggle to find their way to the ocean or to see the females coming to pick up the scent to return to their own birthplaces…

Well even though if it was not the season to see the turtles, St Lucia had much to offer in scenic beauty and one will have to go far to find an ocean with the same variety of vividly blue and turquoise hues with waves rolling out to spill their snow-white foam creating lace patterns on pristine white beaches - a massage to the soul...And on the way to the beaches, traveling through the dune forests one is once more surprised by wild animals peacefully grazing in a  natural parkland habitat. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful safari through Kwa Zulu Natal...

St Lucia Wetland marshes

Top: Panorama of the St Lucia marches

Cape Vidal - view to the north

The sea at Mission Rocks near Cape Vidal

Cape Vidal - south view

Top left and right: the beach at Cape Vidal

Middle top and below: The sea at Mission Rocks

Mission Rocks - Cape Vidal

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