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False Bay Park

False Bay Park is situated along the western shores of Lake St. Lucia, forming a portion of the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park. Previously known as the St. Lucia Wetlands Park, this area has been proclaimed a world heritage site. False Bay Park covers approximately 4,000 ha. Popular activities at False Bay include boating, fishing, hiking and horseback riding.

False Bay Park is composed of a diverse range habitats which include tracts of sand forest, thornveld and open savannah, as well as stretches of pristine shoreline. This variety in natural diversity provides visitors to the park with excellent bird watching and game viewing, and can be best experienced on either of the two self guided trails which run through the park, namely the Dugandlovu and Mpophomeni trails. The False Bay Park also serves as one of KwaZulu Natal's prime bird watching destinations, and is home to one of South Africa's few remaining Pink Backed Pelican colonies. Avid birders will be rewarded with sightings of such species as Pink-throated Longclaws, Lesser Jacana, Goliath Heron and Black Egret, all of which are seen along the grassy shoreline of the lake. Visitors should be aware that crocodiles frequent the shoreline as well.

Visitors to the park who make use of the trails will spot such species as Southern Banded Snake-Eagle, and Broad-billed Roller in the treetops in summer, while ground birds frequenting the undergrowth include the elusive Green Coucal, and the Pink-throated Twinspot which is endemic to the region. Neergaard's Sunbird, Purple-banded Sunbird, and the highly vocal Crested Guinea fowl are also regularly seen in the park. However the closed canopy sand forest at False Bay Park yields the best birding opportunities, with sightings of groups of species which include Rudd's Apalis, White Helmetshrike, Square-tailed Drongo and Yellow-bellied Bulbul.

Other than the massive variety of birds which inhabit the False Bay Park, the region provides decent sightings of various small mammals , for example common and red duiker, and the rare and diminutive suni antelope. Visitors should also be aware that hippos come ashore to graze at night, and those camping or staying in the hutted accommodation should always carry torches when walking around at night.

An interesting variety of flora also exists within the False Bay Park, and includes nectar-producing trees such as the Weeping Boer-bean (Schotia brachypetala) which can reach a height of 22 m displaying richly coloured red flowers popular among birds, and the Coast Coral tree (Erythrina caffra), Lebombo wattle (Newtonia hildebrandti), Zulu podberry (Dialium schlechteri) and Black Monkey Thorn (Acacia burkei) also grow in large numbers in the park. Also featured at the False Bay Park, is an attractive interpretive centre, which houses a variety of important marine fossils of both animals and coral.

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