News & Articles

St Lucia Eco Lodge, A New Tourism Era In Paradise

Shakabarker Tours is pleased to announce the latest addition to its family- the St Lucia Eco Lodge.

Here's the latest news about the Lodge:

"St Lucia Eco Lodge, formerly Seasands Lodge and Conference Center, is undergoing the biggest makeover in the history of St Lucia.

Under new management, this extensive makeover was started in February this year, and is expected to be finished in the next few weeks.

What can guests look forward to at St Lucia Eco Lodge?

Our 6000sqm tropical garden has been remodeled, and the landscaping designed to attract loads of birds, duiker, bush bucks, and of course hippos. Visitors can possibly enjoy game viewing and bird watching right on our property.

Our rooms are being renovated and redecorated to bring it back to its 4-5 star quality status. Our guests can definitely expect the quality accommodation they always look forward to when on holiday.

Coupled with the renovations is retraining of all staff in line with new management's objective to assure quality service to all our guests.

Our dining area and kitchen have also been renovated and now house a fully serviced restaurant called Hogs 'n Hippo Bistro which is open 7 days a week and serves hearty breakfasts, Afro gourmet braais, and other delicious dishes.

Our conference facility, with a maximum capacity of 150 people, has been fully fitted with LED lights and externally repainted with eco-friendly, green technology Nu-roof cool paint.

In addition, St Lucia Eco Lodge continues to implement practical and environment friendly concepts in every area of its operation to make this one of the best restoration projects in this region."

St Lucia Eco Lodge's website is currently under construction. For all your enquiries and reservations, you can email To follow St Lucia Eco Lodge's progress, visit  St Lucia Eco Lodge Facebook page.

Posted by N Bouwer | 14 Comments

Rainfall in iSimangaliso and surrounding areas

Rainfall Figures for the first 24 hours of tropical storm Irina:

Kosi Bay - 249mm
Sodwana Bay - 274mm
Mantuma - 64mm
Cape Vidal - 325mm
Charters Creek - 320mm
False Bay - 189mm
St Lucia - 285mm

Driftwood at the beach after Tropical Storm Irina

















Local is lekker!!

On the way to Cape Vidal
A lake near the first old log bay en route to Cape Vidal. The Park is officially a lake land!

















In St. Lucia Going to Mecca, is taking a walk down to the St. Lucia Estuary mouth to see whether/weather the estuary has open or to see the effects of the capricious weather brought on by Cyclone Irina.

















The exit of Pan Loop was submerged in water after 285mm of rain in 36 hours.

















Take me to your leader - I am a two legged alien! My spaceship crashed during the storm!
Jakes taking on the handywork of Irina!!
No Entry means - no entry, crocs and hippos will arrive soon. 500m into Pan Loop.
Posted by Kian Barker | 17 Comments

New Deck at Catalina Bay

Eastern shores sunset setting just right for gin and tonics with biltong!
The newly completed viewing deck at Catalina Bay, Lake St. Lucia. To the left is a replanted coral tree, in fact there is a second on behind it adding ambience to the stunning sunset location.



Our Eastern shores had a great sunset at the new Catalina Bay Deck with some interesting cloud formations. 
South Africa's premier East Coast Sunset location - join us for an Eastern Shore Eco-therapy tour!!
Posted by Kian Barker | 8992 Comments

Crazy lightning over Mapelane Sand Dune

Double `YIKES and then some!!!



Crazy lightning over mapelane sand Dune







Crazy lightning over Mapelane Sand Dune and the St. Lucia beach. This blast from the heavens had me running for cover. It was unusual as the rain arrived after this incredible display of atmospheric power - YIKES!!

Posted by Kian Barker | 2274 Comments

September Horoscope - The Painted Reed Frog

Quickie: In war there are no winners. In love there are no losers, just lots of tadpoles. Spring is in the Stars. Scorpio the constellation is moving to the west. The nights are get warmer and you will be singing louder. You neighbour the toad is in love, you are in love. Eat those pesky mosquitoes, boost your energy and watch out for that toothy serpentine friend. He is brown and slithery. Aim for the sky and leap with all your sense of freedom and passion, when your serpentine friend is about.
Goodie:Those who seek security tend to lean to the right, while those that are more adventurous lean to the left. This might be true, but remember when the NE blows and you are looking east, you will be leaning to the right on your reed. South winds will make you lean to the left when you are looking west.
Unplugged:It is a 'frog eat insect' World out there, keep your aim straight. Watch out for strong cross winds.
Posted by Kian Barker | 11 Comments


MEDIA RELEASE No: 2009 - 11
In mid-January 2009 a team comprising members of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW), the Marine and Coastal Management (MCM) section of the national Department of Environment Affairs (DEA), and researchers from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University(NMMU), fitted satellite tracking transmitters to three female leatherback sea-turtles on the beaches of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park north of Sodwana Bay.

As leatherback sea-turtles are extremely powerful animals and are swift swimmers, the only opportunity to fit the harnesses was during a female’s on-shore egg-laying activities when she would lie quite still for about 45 minutes.

Each transmitter was strapped onto a sea-turtle using a carefully constructed harness of approved international design built to avoid any interference with the turtle’s movements and to avoid possible chafing.

As the transmitters were fitted in mid-January each sea-turtle nested at least once more after the fitting, before moving off to begin their migration which was the reason for the tracking exercise.

The information gained during the period between nestings provided valuable insights about the animals’ movements inshore.
Once the final egg-laying had taken place, the satellite tracking provided interesting movement records as no- one knows quite where the leatherback sea-turtles that nest on the Zululand beaches go to between nesting seasons, hence the study.

One sea-turtle moved initially northwards towards the Mozambique Channel, while the other two moved southwards, as had sea-turtles from previous tracking operations.

One of the southbound turtles remained relatively close inshore apart from a few forays way out to sea, while the other seemed initially to prefer deep, open ocean.

The signal from the animal moving towards the Mozambique Channel indicated that it had turned south of Madagascar and after a great many swoops and circles headed east and is presently east of Reunion Island and Mauritius about 150 km from the island of Rodriguez.

The other two sea-turtles moved close inshore along the Cape south coast, one being just past Port Elizabeth and the other beyond the Tzitzikamma National Park.

Signals from both these animals have, unfortunately, subsequently ceased.

A signal from a leatherback sea-turtle tagged during the previous nesting season in January 2008 also reappeared off St Helena Island just over a year after leaving the beaches of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.

This particular animal was thought to have been lost until the satellite began to pick up her signal again after a considerable period of silence had elapsed.

This signal has since ceased, probably due to battery-failure in the transmitter.

Almost all previous tracking projects have shown that the leatherback sea-turtles move around the Cape and head up in to the Atlantic Ocean, with the signals ceasing way out to sea off southern Angola.

This tracking project complements Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Sea-turtle project which is now the longest running leatherback and loggerhead turtle monitoring project in the world, having been started under the former Natal Parks Board in 1963 and which has enjoyed valuable financial support from its main sponsor WWF (SA).

Steel components of the harness holding the satellite transmitting device are designed to rust away allowing the rig to drop off the animal after about a year.

Posted by Kian Barker | 3055 Comments

FAQ on Shakabarker Tours

Kian Barker of Shakabarker Tours has selected some of the most frequently asked questions he gets from the guests and today this FAQ has been released on the website.

You can visit the FAQ on the address, or by clicking the "SHAKAbarker Tours" link in the top menu and then selecting the "FAQ" link in the "Shakabarker" menu.

Posted by Webmaster | 13 Comments

Lake St Lucia in trouble

Article from the Citizen 2009/02/26.


PORT ELIZABETH - World renowned Lake St Lucia, home to hundreds of crocodiles and hippopotami, is seriously ill, according to a leading scientist.

The diagnosis is acute dehydration.

"The patient is in intensive care," Professor Alan Whitfield of the SA Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity told delegates at the Implementing Environmental Water Allocations (IEWA) conference in Port Elizabeth on Thursday.

He said the estuary of which Lake St Lucia is a part, was under threat from "historic and current manipulation" of its freshwater supply. The solution was to allow the system's main river, the Umfolozi, to once again flow into the lake.

"Lake St Lucia is not only a World Heritage Site; it's also a Ramsar site of international importance. It has been impacted since the 1930s and things are coming to a head in that system now."

These impacts included the removal of wetlands that had once served to filter the water pouring into the estuary down the Umfolozi; and, a decision -- reversed in March last year -- to divert the river away from the lake.

"A total of 920 million cubic metres Šin-flowÆ has been removed from Lake St Lucia, and in order to fix the situation it needs to be returned."

Salinity in the lake under "natural flows" was about 60 parts per thousand, but -- with the diversion of the fresh water from the Umfolozi -- was now well above 100 parts per thousand, almost three times the concentration of sea water.

"The system is going through extremes it's never experienced before," Whitfield warned.

At one time the Umfolozi River had regularly scoured the lake, but a decision had been taken some years ago to divert the river southwards and open a separate mouth.

This had been done to stop the river depositing tons of sediment in the lake. Depriving the system of its single-largest freshwater supply, however, coupled with a decrease in other inflows due to a prolonged drought in the region, caused the lake to shrink and salinity levels to soar.

"This is a World Heritage Site, and South Africa has a responsibility which we're not fulfilling under the current circumstances."

The area was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999.

Whitfield said the situation was "not all doom and gloom", and there was a solution.

"The Umfolozi River is the key to the future of Lake St Lucia, the absolute key, and we've known that for a long time, but we've done absolutely nothing about it," he said.

Posted by Kian Barker | 1629 Comments

Turtle Power

If seeing the ancient annual ritual of turtles nesting and hatching is on your “to do” list, now is the time, writes Jill Gowans. As we speak, tiny creatures are breaking through the shells of their eggs, wriggling out, gulping the sea air and scampering in the dark across the sand to the warm sea.

Lying in wait is a phalanx of ghost crabs, who carry off the first turtle hatchlings. Those following close behind manage to slip through and into the water.

There, they are food for reef fish in the shallows and game fish further out until they reach the relative safety beyond the continental shelf.

They feed and flourish on plankton and jellyfish found among floating sea grasses. Still, only one in hundreds will grow to maturity.

Some 12-14 years later, having mated far out to sea, the female leatherback and loggerhead turtles return to these same deserted KwaZulu-Natal beaches, fringed by the tallest forested dunes in the world, to lay their eggs.

Nobody knows for certain how they find their way back, after swimming countless lengths in the Indian Ocean. Some scientists believe the nesting grounds in these titanium-rich sands provide magnetic imprinting on the young.

This is the time to see this ancient annual ritual. The loggerhead turtle nests up to six times from late October to March; the larger leatherback up to ten times. So nesting and hatching are taking place simultaneously right now.

St Lucia-based ecologist Kian Barker is an official turtle tour guide, operating from a temporary seven-bed tented camp at Bhanga Nek near Ezemvelo, KZN Wildlife’s turtle monitoring station.

This is the longest-running project of its kind, whereby students and local community members walk a section of the beach every night, pinpointing nests, measuring adults and counting hatchlings.

SA’s marine turtles, unlike some other populations, are holding their own against the onslaught of long-line fishing (when they are accidently snared), over-development and over-exploitation for food (subsistence and gourmet).

They and their nesting beaches are protected by national and international legislation.

Barker offers the only overnight turtle tour on this 200km stretch of pristine, wild coastline, collecting guests at St Lucia town to drive through the northerly Coastal Forest Reserve of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (the former Greater St Lucia Wetland Park) to the blue ocean and powder-white sands.

There, after a braai, you walk onto the beach and head by torchlight north towards Mozambique. And if you’re treated to a sighting, it is guaranteed to be a moment you’ll never forget.

A leatherback turtle comes through the white-flecked waves, like an amphibious vehicle landing at Dunkirk.

With a slow laborious gait, she moves up to beyond the high-water mark and digs a hole with her rear flippers. Into that the eggs plop until the nest is full; she flattens the entrance and flicks sand around to disguise it from predators like honey badgers, genets and crabs.

Some 75 days later, and the hatchlings will wriggle their way out of the nest and scamper to the sea, beginning the years of wandering before the females are back again.

* For more information on an overnight turtle tour, contact Shakabarker Tours on 035 590 1162 or email

Nick Bates
Web Editor

Posted by Kian Barker | 14 Comments

Discussion Forum on Shakabarker Tours

Today a discussion forum about the iSimangaliso Wetland Park has been released on Shakabarker Tours website.

The forum is open to all, but registration is required to post messages in the forum.

You can visit the forum on the address

Posted by Webmaster | 17 Comments

iSimangaliso's New Giant Mushroom

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority proudly announces that iSimangaliso's species list has grown longer with the Park's biodiversity count was bolstered by the addition of a fungus. Our ever-vigilant local tour guide Kian Barker noticed what he thought was a piece of plastic lying in the bush while on a night drive in January, and stopped to retrieve it. To the delight of Kian and his guests, the offending piece of litter turned out to be the uncommonly large mushroom, pictured below.  Giant macrocybe lobayensis mushroom.Kian forwarded his picture to iSimangaliso CEO Andrew Zaloumis who in turn mailed it to Durban natural historian Geoff Nichols. From there, the picture passed through cyberspace to the computer screen of Dr. Marieka Gryzenhout of the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute at the University of Pretoria.  The identification and classification of fungi is both difficult, and in a state of ongoing flux, and very few scientists in South Africa are currently doing research in this field.  Thus, Kian's picture journeyed from Marieka's computer to the National Herbarium of Victoria, Australia, and onto the desk of senior Mycologist Dr. Tom May, curator of fungi (Mycology is the study of fungi), who identified iSimangaliso's mushroom as Macrocybe lobayensis.  By this stage the picture had been circulated via the internet to amateur fungus-lovers all over southern Africa, and had caused rather a stir.  This is because it is one of the species of fungus with the largest mushrooms known (a mushroom is the common name given to the fruiting body of a fungus). The genus to which Macrocybe belongs has a pantropical distribution i.e. it occurs in tropical areas around the world, and is usually found in grasslands. It is highly unlikely, however, that this species has been previously recorded in iSimangaliso, and its occurrence here, a mere 4 km's from St. Lucia town, may also establish a new distribution record for South Africa as a whole.  It is almost certain that iSimangaliso holds many more fungal treasures, as approximately only 4% of SA's fungi are known to science !

Posted by Kian Barker | 14 Comments