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Our first trip out to see South Africa’s famous wildlife was to the St Lucia estuary to look for one of the most dangerous animals in Africa – the hippo!
That’s right, hippos are one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. They are aggressive, weigh up to 4,000 lbs, and have huge teeth. More than 800 hippos live in the St Lucia area of South Africa, and one of the most popular tours in the area is to take a boat out to see these animals.
Booking a St Lucia Estuary Tour
We were staying in Richard’s Bay and booked a full day tour to the St Lucia area with Bush & Beach Tours. Our tour guide, Anand, booked us a spot on the Advantage Cruiser.
Rains and Water Levels
We had just gotten several days of high rain, complete with flood warnings. Due to this, the estuary was flooded, and while we saw plenty of hippos, they were mostly submerged!
The boat we were on had a full crew and a captain who pointed things out. He made some amazing spots (hippos like to hide under trees). Also, the current was crazy strong, and with the water so high, it was a very tight fit under the bridge.
There was a bar on the boat with snacks and drinks, a small bathroom, and a second deck!
We saw two crocodiles on our tour.
Yellow Weavers and Their Nests
These weaver nests were beautiful and sad. The weaver made the nests in the reeds, but unfortunately, many of them did not build the nests high enough, and many nests got washed away.
Driving to See the Dunes
Anand drove us over to Sugarloaf Caravan Park to look out over the sand dunes and the old entrance to the estuary. The sand dunes shifted and the estuary no longer connects with the ocean.
Lunch in St Lucia
Our tour included lunch with Anand at Ocean Basket, a top-rated restaurant in St Lucia. I think it’s a chain, but the seafood we had was GREAT!
Where to Stay in St Lucia
St Lucia is a super cute beach town. It’s very small, so there are plenty of restaurants, shops, and tour offices within walking distance.
St Lucia is pretty budget-friendly. If you are looking for the best, Monzi Safaris Backpackers is very cheap (<$30 USD) and extremely well rated. It’s like going on safari! Another inexpensive one (less than $75 USD) is Ndiza Lodge and Cabanas.
There are a lot of choices in a moderate price range ($75-150 USD). My choice would be Lidiko Lodge.