Witnessing the “Miracle” of iSimangaliso
In voyaging, weather is usually the single most important determinant of schedule. It is often said that setting a firm schedule in voyaging is like setting yourself up for disappointment. On this Worldwide Voyage, we have learned to flexible in all things, but especially with timing. However, one thing that we definitely did not want to miss out on was the opportunity to visit the beautiful iSimangaliso Wetland Park in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa.
This park – the first of its kind in South Africa – spans over 3,000 square kilometers and is home to an incredible diversity of flora and fauna. In 1999, the park was officially declared a UNESCO Marine World Heritage Site, signifying the tremendous importance that this park holds for the conservation of land and wildlife. Nelson Mandela once noted that: “iSimangaliso must be the only place on the globe where the oldest land mammal (the rhinoceros) and the world’s biggest terrestrial mammal (the elephant) share an ecosystem with the world’s oldest fish (the coelacanth) and the world’s biggest marine mammal (the whale).”
The UNESCO World Heritage Marine Programme currently has 47 sites around the world dedicated to conservation and stewardship. As partner organizations, the Polynesian Voyaging Society and UNESCO are both working to promote the importance of caring for planet Earth in their own unique way. Therefore, when we were invited to visit this amazing place by our partners at UNESCO, we jumped at the opportunity to learn about conservation and culture in the South African context.