Having left Kruger we traveled to Piet Retief and had an overnight stay at Röhrs Farm Guesthouse. This was a fantastic B&B and it’s a shame we didn’t stay longer. Walking around the gardens we managed to see the following.
The next morning after a leisurely breakfast it was on to St. Lucia. What an amazing place St. Lucia is. A nice main street, called Mckenzie Street, with Fruit stalls at one end ( the smell of pineapples was overwhelming ) and shops and restaurants along it. Off Mckenzie Street are lots of very picturesque tree lined streets with wonderful names like Hornbill Street, Kuda Street and Kingfisher Street. Our accommodation was Lai-la Log Cabins on Hornbill Street. Walking along the Streets we saw lots of bird life during the day. It was ill advised to walk about during the hours of darkness. This is due to the fact that the Hippopotamus come out of the river to feed and can be seen walking the streets of St. Lucia at night. Not something you’d want to meet whilst walking.
A poor shot of Hippo on the streets of St. Lucia taken on a phone
We did lots of walking along the beach and on the trails around St. Lucia and saw lots of birds and wildlife. We also drove in the national parks either side of the river although the day we decided to drive the west side was one of the few days that it rained and we saw very little of Lake St. Lucia because of it. It was still an enjoyable day though.
A monitor lizard on the road not looking very well. Not sure if it was ill or just didn’t like the cold rain
The weather improved and the drive up the east side of the river was very enjoyable.
There were lots of Yellow-billed Kites to be seen on the beaches
While looking at the river from the beach we bumped into a few South African birders who all asked if we’d seen “it”. On enquiring what “it” was they informed us that a Eurasian Oystercatcher had been seen in the estuary. Quite a rarity for them but rather common for us, although it would have been nice to include it on our trip list, but it wasn’t to be. We did manage to see Sandwich Tern, Swift Tern, Little Tern, Pink-backed Pelicans, Greater Flamingo, Yellow-billed Duck, White-fronted Plover, Grey Plover, Barn Swallow, African Black Oystercatcher, Yellow-billed Stork, Black-winged Stilt, Common Sandpiper, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Grey-headed Gull, Sanderling, Whimbrel, and Blue-cheeked Bee-eater.
I managed to get quite a few shots just outside Lai-la Log Cabins on Hornbill Street
On one of our evenings out, we had just finished our meal when the waiter came up with 2 shots. When asked he informed us that they had been bought by a young couple on another table and the drink was called a Springbok. We thanked them and as they were leaving we struck up a conversation. They had bought the drink as they had been watching us and liked the way we ( Sandra really ) seemed to be full of life and very outgoing ( definitely Sandra ). They were South African and in St. Lucia for a holiday and to photograph birds. We got on really well and exchanged facebook names and have since been in contact. It was a real pleasure to meet Sarel Kruger and his partner Mariska Kruger, and hope that we meet them again if we return to South Africa.
We arranged a boat trip on the river for looking at the wildlife and getting a close view of the Crocodiles and the Hippos. We were just going to turn up at the jetty and hopefully get on one of the boat trips. The owner of our B&B said this wasn’t the best way to do it and he’d arrange a trip for us. So on our final day we were picked up from our accommodation and transported down to a private jetty to do our river tour. The boat was run by Shaka Barker and was fairly large. There were only 4 of us on the tour so we had a choice of where to sit and could walk around the boat with ease.
The guide/captain was extremely knowledgeable. Not only did he give us close views of the crocs and hippos, he also managed to show us a lot of the other residents of the river. These included Giant Kingfisher, Yellow Weaver, Water Thicknee, Common Sandpiper plus a raptor we still haven’t IDed. All in all it was a very rewarding experience.
During the trip we saw the boats from the other companies and they were extremely crowded boats. I think we definitely got the best deal.
I’d definitely recommend St. Lucia as a place to stay in South Africa. Next it’s on to Sheffield Beach and the tidal pools.