The Greater St. Lucia Wetlands Park is South Africa's first Natural World Heritage Site. It was declared on 1 December 1999 by Unesco and is South Africa's third largest park. It stretches from Mapelane, or Cape St. Lucia, in the South to Kozi Bay in the North. The towns of St Lucia, Mtubatuba, Hluhluwe, Mkuze, Mbaswana and Manguzi are close to the park.
Inside the park you can find the Lake St Lucia, the St Lucia and Maputaland Marine Reserves, the Coastal Forest Reserve and the Kozi Bay Nature Reserve. The park has 280km of coastline and is 328 000 hectares large.
The park has a many different habitats including coral reefs, beaches and coastal forests, salt and fresh water marshes and areas where rivers flow into the sea and salt and fresh water mix. There are also lush areas close to the coast and drier woodland areas. Many different animals live in the Wetlands and a large group of hippopotamuses and about 1 000 crocodiles survive there in safety because it is a protected area.
The Greater St. Lucia Wetlands Park was declared a world heritage site because it has 5 ecosystems with so many different African plants, animals and birds that exist together and because it is so beautiful and unique.