1. Scuba Diving
Sodwana Bay lies within the boundaries of the Greater St. Lucia Wetland nature reserve, KwaZulu-Natal and is South Africa's most exciting Scuba diving attraction. Rated as one of the premier dive sites in the world. This nature reserve features various popular dive sites with a great diversity of underwater seascapes, marine flora and fauna, corals, beautiful overhangs, drop-offs and mushroom rocks. Explore the brilliant display of at least 1200 species of Reef Fish on the planet between the incredibly dense colorful soft and hard corals.
The bio diversity in the area is phenomenal, from the big to small. Some of the small "jewellery" on offer includes paperfish, pipefish, seahorses, nudibranchs, frogfish and a host of many others. Very often whale sharks, turtles, ragged toothed and other shark species; moray eels and the ever-curious dolphins show their presence. Seasonal visitors include humpback whales and manta rays. Humpback whales are the most 'vocal' of all whales and if you dive in South Africa during the winter months you may well hear the haunting songs of the humpback whale, although the animals themselves can be several kilometers away. Only the males sing long, elaborate songs, which can last up to 20 minutes and may be repeated for several hours at a time. Research has shown that these songs, which are gradually modified over time, are learnt and passed on to other whales within specific populations.
All levels of scuba diver training, from junior diver to advanced trimix diver and instructor courses plus all the different diving specialty courses, are on offer from different diving schools. Instructors are certified with both the CMAS and PADI agencies. Diving conditions range from idyllic to challenging depending on the wind and the current. Spectacular night dives have made this a not-to-be-missed destination for the scuba diving enthusiast. So dive in and discover the magic of the underwater world. There are many Scuba Dive Operators in Sodwana Bay.
2. Quad Bike Trails
Quad bikes can be hired and used in and around the Sodwana area. There are many trails through dunes and sand vegetation that provide exciting adventures. Contact Eric Spies for more information – 082 785 7704.
3. Bird Watching
The best birding areas around Sodwana are the Ngoboseleni Trail, Lake Sibaya to the north and Muzi Pans further inland.
- The Ngoboseleni Trail starts and ends at the Ezimvilo Wildlife reception office inside the Sodwana Bay National Park, it takes approximately 4 hours over easy terrain, which includes coastal forest, wetland and some grassland. Contact Themba for more information – 084 808 4048.
- Lake Sibaya hosts an impressive array of species, 279 bird species have been identified here. Entry to Sibaya is through the Parks Board gate on the south eastern shore of the lake. Access to the area requires a 4x4 vehicle as the road alternates between soft and hard sand. Guided tours in 4x4 vehicles can be arranged by us, Last Round Fishing Charters, please see our Contact Page for our contact details.
- The Muzi Pans entrance is on the Hluhluwe-Mbazwane road, approximately 30 km south of Mbazwane. Although accessible with a normal vehicle, a 2x4 or 4x4, high clearance, vehicle is recommended especially during the wet season. Guided tours can be arranged by us, Last Round Fishing Charters, please see our Contact Page for our contact details.
Forest species include; Turacos, Woodward's Batis, Green Coucal, Black-bellied Starling and Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher and Crested Guineafowl. The lake’s fringes house; Goliath, Purple, Great White, Squacco, Green-backed and occasionally Rufous-bellied Herons, Pygmy Goose, African Jacana, Great Crested Grebe, Allen's Gallinule and White-faced Duck. Fish Eagle can also be seen on the lakes edge. Five stork species within the area; Woolly necked, Saddle billed, Open bill, Black and Yellow bellied, can also be seen. Sea birds include Cape Gannet, Cape Cormorant, Swift and Caspian Terns and White-fronted Plover.
4. Turtle Tours
One of the oldest of natures rituals taking place through out the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is turtle nesting and hatching. The Wetland Park coastline stretching over two hundred kilometers is an important breeding ground for the Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles. Under the cover of darkness beginning the month of November, female Leatherback turtles come ashore on the high tide and lay up to 1000 eggs in batches of 100-200 at intervals of 9-10 days. The breeding habits of the Loggerhead turtle is much the same as those of the Leatherback, the females come ashore at night, on the high tide, and lay up to 500 eggs at 15 day intervals They make their way cumbersomely up the beach to above the high tide mark to dig a nest about one meter deep, lay their eggs, cover them with sand to protect them from predators, such as ghost crabs and kites, they then slowly returns to the warm waters of the ocean. This tedious and exhausting task takes approximately three hours to complete.
Both species’ eggs have a 70 day gestation period and the juveniles (only 50-60mm in length) emerges at night to make their way to the sea for the fist time. This usually takes place between the beginning of January and the end of February. Unfortunately, the mortality rate is high and only about five hatchlings in every thousand may reach sexual maturity. Leatherback turtles grow rapidly and reach sexual maturity after about 4-5 years, whereas the Loggerhead turtle only reaches sexual maturity at an estimated age of 12-15 years. Amazingly female turtles then returns, to the same beach that they hatched from, every 3-5 years to breed to continue this circle of life. Turtle tours are highly specialized and should be done only with registered guides who are properly trained in how to approach these animals so as to not disturb them. Jabulani offers turtle walks during the evening from November to March on the beach. Turtle sighting is not guaranteed. For more information contact him on 079 868 1111.
An abundance of excellent snorkelling spots can also be found along the Sodwana Bay coast. Just pack your diving glasses and snorkel and enjoy the many colorful small fish, crabs, snails and corals accessible from the beach.
6. Micro-light flights
Scenic introductory flights are offered over the spectacular Sodwana Bay Coastline and spot the majestic whale shark from above, or take a flight over Lake Sibaya and see hippos and crocodiles. Whale sharks are the world’s largest living fish, attaining lengths of 13m and weighing up to 13 tons. Whale sharks, like the basking shark, are filter feeders, using their huge mouths to 'vacuum' zooplankton, squid and small fish that are then filtered through the sieve like structures inside the 5 large gill slits at each side of the head. It is believed that whale sharks only reach sexual maturity at 30 years of age or approx. 9m in length and that they may have a life span exceeding 100 years. Whale sharks occur in all tropical and warmer temperate waters and are highly migratory, their movements following plankton blooms and the changing temperatures of water masses. Preferring a balmy 21-25 °C, sightings are more common in the summer months off the northern coast of KwaZulu-Natal. Contact Francois on 072 211 6662 for more information.
7. Whale and Dolphin Spotting from Fishing or Dive boats
Humpback whales are spotted almost daily during their northward migration from May to July and again on their return journey from November to January. Females reach sexual maturity at about 12 meters and like all baleen whales they tend to be larger than the males of equivalent age. Gestation lasts between 11 and 12 months and generally produces a single calf, which is then suckled for a period of 10 to 11 months. Sightings in South Africa are not unusual from June to January as the whales migrate up the east coast to calve and mate in the waters off Mozambique and Madagascar. Although humpback whales appear not to feed when in tropical waters, it is believed they may feed opportunistically on the journey back from the KwaZulu-Natal North coast to the Antarctic regions. During this period the whales are merely passing our coastline but we often find them offshore in small groups or singly and with calves.
Common, Spinner and Bottlenose dolphins are found offshore in most temperate to tropical waters. To be lucky enough to 'run' with common dolphins must be considered amongst the highlights of a lifetime. Common dolphins are usually found in groups. They are very gregarious and positively 'love' boats. Moving at high speeds whilst chasing prey, they will utilize the bow wave and the wake of a boat in order to save energy. At high speeds they will also 'porpoise' and leave the water entirely. Watching common dolphins move through water is to witness apparently effortless motion and the peak of aquatic evolution. Common dolphins are usually only found in the deeper coastal waters, however they are occasionally seen from shore during the summer months in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal when they follow migrations of schooling fish up the coast.