In 1822 the Royal Navy sent the ships Leven, Barracouta, and Cockburn to survey the coastline. The captain of the Barracouta was Lieutenant A.Vidal, after whom Cape Vidal was named, and Leven Point was named after the sloop HMS Leven. The various points along the coast: Jesser, Liefeldts, Gobey & amp, and Hully were named after officers on the ships who died of Malaria.
Cape Vidal is a beautiful stretch of beach, where one can swim, fish, sail or snorkel. It is part of the Eastern Shores Nature Reserve of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. In the year 1999 the coastal area between Maphelana in the south and Kosi Bay near the border to Mozambique in the north, including the wetlands around Lake St. Lucia, were declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by the UNESCO. Since then the reserve is called the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (previously St. Lucia Wetland Park) and comprises 328000 hectares. It protects a stunning variety of unique habitats: lagoons, reet and papyrus swampland, mangroves and swamp forests, different types of thornveld and savannah, subtropical coastal forest, dunes and sandy beaches as well as coral reefs off the shore.
The park’s centrepiece is Lake St Lucia. Although several rivers feed into the lake, it is not a freshwater lake, but a 60 kilometre long, shallow lagoon with varying degrees of salinity. It runs parallel to the coast and has its mouth south of St. Lucia, which might close up in times of drought. Because of the vast and permanent supply of water, a large number of game animals, especially antelope, hippopotami, crocodile and elephant are attracted to the area. The Eastern Shores Nature Reserve features the highest dunes in the world (150m high). The St Lucia Lake is home of over 2000 crocodiles and 700 hippos, many antelope and a very rich bird life. More than 350 species of birds, including pelicans, flamingos, fisheagles and herons have been recorded.
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