iSimangaliso’s Sodwana Bay section is scheduled for a facelift in the next 24 months. The upgrades, which will cost approximately R72 million, include a new visitor reception and gate complex, new parking, new craft markets, and new recreational areas for day visitors.

The Sodwana Bay section of the Park is an integral and highly valued part of iSimangaliso. It contains some of the rarest forest types and species in the country and is a vibrant and exciting tourism destination for beach lovers, divers and fishermen.

Part of iSimangaliso’s mandate is to conserve and develop the Park in line with leading conservation and sustainability practices.

Given the sensitive nature of the ecological processes at work within the Sodwana Bay section of the Park and highly dynamic intertidal and coastal dune cordon, a number of specialist studies were commissioned to better understand the dynamics of this area with a view to enhancing and protecting ecological functionality and promoting economic development.

The studies addressed ecological issues in and around the Sodwana Beach node, considered how best to modernise day visitor facilities to improve the visitor experience, and optimise economic opportunities and job creation.

These detailed and considered studies, which have been conducted over a two-year period, include vegetation surveys, ecological functionality assessments, coastal dune dynamics, estuarine functional assessments, cultural heritage assessments, and ecological rehabilitation.

These multi-disciplinary teams that have participated in this work include specialists in the fields of dune dynamics and estuarine management as well as civil engineers, landscape architects, architects and professionals who have successfully managed and implemented rehabilitation programmes along the coast line of KwaZulu-Natal.