Turtle time – experience one of nature’s miracles

November to February is an exciting period when you can witness female turtles nesting on the northern beaches of KwaZulu-Natal or watch as hatchlings emerge from the sandy womb and make their way to the ocean.

We love the fact that by visiting these sites you get to play a role in ecotourism.

Both the critically endangered giant leatherback turtle, as well as the loggerhead turtle nest on stretches of coast within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and its marine protected area (MPA) provides important feeding grounds for these reptiles.

Get close to the turtles on land, or if you don a snorkel and mask (or scuba gear) you have an extraordinary opportunity to observe them underwater. Besides the leatherback and loggerhead turtles that nest on our beaches, you may spot a non-breeding resident green turtle in the water too.

It’s quite incredible that while loggerheads and leatherbacks can swim the length of the continent, once mature and ready to reproduce, female turtles often return to lay eggs only metres away from where they once hatched.

Active conservation in the MPAs has produced positive results, according to Marine Protected Areas South Africa.

“Ongoing monitoring since 1963 has revealed remarkable results demonstrating the importance of beach protection for nesting female turtles.

In 1966, fewer than 10 leatherback turtles nested on the Zululand coast. The average number of nesting leatherback females has now risen to more than 70 nests per year. The number of loggerhead turtles has risen even more spectacularly from less than 250 in the early 1960s to 1 700 nesting annually within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.”

Whether you spot a loggerhead, leatherback or green turtle, like the character Crush from Pixar’s Finding Nemo, the experience may leave you as inarticulate as the animated creature who said, “I saw the whole thing dude! First, you were like, ‘woaaaah’, and then we were like, ‘woaaaah’ and then you were like, ‘woaaahh’”.

We’d love to help you plan a journey to experience this wonder of nature.

Happy travelling,
The Leopard Team

P.S. Drop us an email at [email protected] to find out more and remember to share this newsletter with someone who’d love to swim with turtles.

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