Fodor's Expert Review Maputaland Coastal Forest Reserve

Maputaland Coastal Forest Reserve Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge

The highlight of a visit here, if it's timed right, is to view the loggerhead and leatherback turtles. Nothing—not photographs, not wildlife documentaries—prepares you for the size of these creatures. On any given night, you might see a huge, humbling leatherback, 6 feet long and weighing up to 500 kg (1,100 pounds), drag her great body up through the surf to the high-water mark at the back of the beach. There she will dig a deep hole and lay up to a 120 gleaming white eggs, bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball. It will have taken her many, many years to achieve this moment of fruition, a voyage through time and across the great oceans of the world—a long, solitary journey in the cold black depths of the sea, meeting and mating only once every seven years, and always coming back to within about 300 feet of the spot on the beach where she herself had been born. And if your luck holds, you might even observe the miracle of the hatchlings, when perfect bonsai leatherback... READ MORE

The highlight of a visit here, if it's timed right, is to view the loggerhead and leatherback turtles. Nothing—not photographs, not wildlife documentaries—prepares you for the size of these creatures. On any given night, you might see a huge, humbling leatherback, 6 feet long and weighing up to 500 kg (1,100 pounds), drag her great body up through the surf to the high-water mark at the back of the beach. There she will dig a deep hole and lay up to a 120 gleaming white eggs, bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball. It will have taken her many, many years to achieve this moment of fruition, a voyage through time and across the great oceans of the world—a long, solitary journey in the cold black depths of the sea, meeting and mating only once every seven years, and always coming back to within about 300 feet of the spot on the beach where she herself had been born. And if your luck holds, you might even observe the miracle of the hatchlings, when perfect bonsai leatherback turtles dig themselves out of their deep, sandy nest and rush pell-mell toward the sea under a star-studded sky.

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Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge

Quick Facts

Off Hwy. 2
South Africa

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