St. Lucia Central Reservations


St. Lucia & The Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park Area


Lake St. Lucia

The Mkuze Swamps - Pans and Papyrus


The northern parts of the ancestral Lake St. Lucia have, over the centuries, been filled with sediments washed down from the Mkuze catchment area. What was formerly lake became shallower and shallower until it could be colonised by reeds and sedges to become the largest swamp in South Africa. The river frequently dries up, leaving pools of water in its exposed sand beds. The observant visitor will see from the spoor around these pools that there is an abundance of animal life here - tracks of jackal, serval, red and grey duikers, reedbuck, water mongooses and even the clawless otter can be seen. During floods the river rises and spills over its banks to flood the Muzi and Ngwenya pans.  It is evident from their linear shape that they are drowned valleys.  These pans are a delight to birdwatchers.  The tropical knob-bill, white-faced and fulvous ducks congregate in large numbers on the banks, whiskered terns patrol back and forth, black herons attract their prey by spreading their wings umbrella-like over their heads while solitary pink-backed pelicans float motionless on the water - waiting silently for a fish to come within striking distance.


Foraging Ibis


Majestic Fish Eagle

The separation of the swamp from into eastern and western halves - with papyrus on the east and reeds on the west - is a result of differences in sediment loading, nutrient levels and acidity of the water.  The water draining from the swamp into Lake St. Lucia has had most of its sediments filtered out of it.  It has also picked up fine organic particles and, in the lake, enriches the food chain.

Cattle egret on papyrus


The Marine Eco-system The Eastern Shores eco-system Lake St. Lucia The Mkuze Swamps The Western Shores eco-system



Western Shores