Lake Sibaya is tucked against forested coastal dunes, parallel to iSimangaliso’s coastline. At an estimated 7 750ha, Lake Sibaya is the largest of its type and has been listed as a RAMSAR Wetland of International Importance. Marine canyons offshore of Lake Sibaya and the presence of relict estuarine fauna suggest that the Lake was previously connected to the sea by a large river. Its pristine, crystal clear waters fringed by pure white sand are fed entirely by run-off from the high vegetated dunes reaching 165m. No rivers flow in or out of Lake Sibaya.
Lake Sibaya is home to KwaZulu-Natal’s second largest population of hippo and crocodiles. It is an important breeding, feeding and roosting area for a host of bird species. Surface water in the surrounding coastal plain often disappears completely during dry spells, making it the only source of permanent water for local fauna. The Lake supports a diverse array of zooplankton, 15 species of aquatic and 43 species of terrestrial molluscs, as well as flora and fauna unique to South Africa.
A birder’s paradise
Lake Sibaya is classified as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife SA. The site has a diverse avifauna, including locally rare species and range-restricted species. A total of 279 bird species have been recorded at Lake Sibaya, 62 of which are closely associated with the Lake through their breeding, feeding or roosting habits. Although few species occur in large numbers, the Lake occasionally supports more than 20 000 waterfowl, some of which are at the southern limit of their distribution.
This section of the Park has an other-worldliness that defies description. The undulating soft sand roads along the Lake’s shore are strictly 4×4 territory. Out here, you’ll feel as though you are a million miles away from home, cast back in time.