Exploring the Wet Lands around St Lucia

A little while ago we went to St. Lucia. St. Lucia is a very small town on the east coast of South Africa. I think that the main reason the town is there is because of all the animal reserves surrounding it.

On our first day in the town we went on a hippo and croc boat tour. The tour was located on a lake which used to be a river about ten years ago. The mouth of the river is closed off now because of silt that has built up over the years.

Fish Eagle on the side of the river.

Fish Eagle on the side of the river.

We got on the two hour boat ride at about 12 o’clock. Once we got on the boat, we immediately spotted a Fish Eagle. This bird can grow to two and a half feet tall with a wingspan of eight feet! This bird catches fish or waits for another bird (like a seagull) to catch a fish then chase them until they throw up. Then he eats what they throw up… yech!

A few minutes later we ran into our first hippo! He was alone swimming/walking along the river bed. The tour guide said the lake was about a metre and a half deep in its deepest parts. This is a good depth for hippos.

He also said that hippos can bite a 4 metre long croc in half! It is known to be the most dangerous animal in Africa. They are herbivores but if you startle them, upset them or step in-between them and something they want, they will get very aggressive. They can easily chop off a persons leg in one bite.

Once we started moving again, we saw some more hippos. This time in a group. We made sure not to get to close, because hippos are known for tipping over boats. There was a strong wind, so the hippos didn’t stay above water for long.

Hippo ahoy!

Hippo ahoy!

Hippo family in the water

Hippo family in the water

We headed farther down the lake. Our tour guide told us that the hippos come out of the water at night and that they can be found in the town. He also said that if you look at the banks you can find big gullies in the mud. That is where the hippos walk in and out of the water.

Family with small baby

Family with small baby

Hippo checking us out.

Hippo checking us out.

We saw a couple other families on the way. Sadly we didn’t find any crocs. Our guide said it was because of the waves and the rain. The waves make it hard to see the crocs lying in the water. The rain makes it cool, so the crocs don’t want to sun themselves on the banks. He did tell us some cool facts though. Like, a croc is very hard to kill. One time they had to shoot one, then call a vet to shoot it with a poison darts twice. It was still alive. Our guide felt so bad for it he took a dagger and put it through his head. After this he still wasn’t dead, so they had to freeze him to death. I thought this was very sad.

We finally finished our tour at 2 o’clock then headed back to St. Lucia.

A couple days later we took our car to the game reserve just north of St Lucia. We paid a small fee to get in. Once we were in the park, we saw were antelope and warthogs (which are very ugly) right away. We took almost every dirt road we could find in the hope that we could find some more animals. We did. We found some hippos in a lake. We found a rhino family with a small baby. They were “white rhinos”.

Rhino baby and mum

Rhino baby and mum

White rhinos are not actually white. The name comes from a mistake made during translation that has never been fixed. They are supposed to be called “wide-lipped” rhinos.

We also saw buffalo, many different types of birds, zebras and many different types of antelope. Many were just on the side of the road. We even saw two lazy hyenas lying on the side of the road. Maybe they were waiting for something to get hit.

How many are there?

How many are there?

Antelope anyone?

Antelope anyone?

The scenery was spectacular. Almost every corner had something different. One second there was a vast plain, the next second you were in a jungle! We kept driving along dirt roads for awhile until we hit our destination… the beach. With about 20 people on the beach, it was the perfect place for building a sand castle. Jacob and I set to work while our parents lounged on the beach a few metres behind us. We were careful of the monkeys because we had heard about them stealing stuff at the beach. We were lucky. No monkeys came near us. There was one couple though, who almost lost some of their food to a monkey.

We headed back to St. Lucia content with what we saw and did the past couple days.

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