St Lucia Tours t/a Advantage was established in 1991, holding a permit for boat based whale watching since 1998.
In this year they also launched their Hippo & Croc estuary boat cruises, having been granted an operating permit from KZN Wildlife. As an iSimangaliso Concessionaire in St Lucia ideally places Advantage within the greater iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
Having their own boat building company has enabled them to locally manufacture their boats to their own custom specs, creating much needed employment in the process.
According to Lesley Sawyer of the Whale Shop, St Lucia:
We offer Hippo & Croc Tours on the St Lucia Estuary, and these 2 hour tours which normally run 3 – 4 times daily, are the ultimate in relaxation, except when you perhaps get charged by a Hippo!!
Our vessel has high sides for your safety and that of your toddlers, and has been built with your comfort in mind.
There‘s a full cash bar on board, and there are both ladies and gents toilet facilities available. We are also wheelchair friendly!! There is ample room for the avid photographer to move around as the whim takes him or her, and there are ample opportunities for beautiful photos which make memories for you to take home.
–photo by Natalie
The prolific bird life over the St Lucia shores is nothing short of stunning, with over 526 different species counted to date, ranging from the smallest Malachite Kingfisher of between 10 – 13cms, to the Goliath Heron with it’s wingspan of close to 2.3mts…the majesty of the Fish Eagle with his Soul stirring cry…truly the voice of Africa.
As our name suggests, there are Hippo’s and Crocs a-plenty, Waterbuck, Kudu, Duiker, Zebras., and should you want to know anything about our animals, birds, or just general info on our estuarine system, you can ask our friendly, and knowledgeable skippers/guides, and they will be only to happy to answer your questions.
Our Estuary Cruises run throughout the year, and to be part of one is like eating a Magnum Ice-cream…Pure Pleasure!!
–photo by Natalie
Our Whale Watching season runs from mid-May to mid-December, and is the highlight of this time of the year!! Once again, our Whale watch vessels, as is our estuary cruiser, are surveyed annually by SAMSA, and your comfort and safety is our main priority!! Our vessels are custom built by Danie Bennett of Bennett Boat Builders and his dedicated boat building team.
Danie has been Whale watching since 1998 and is a Legal Permit Holder for boat-based Whale Watching in St Lucia and Durban!!
The playful, curious, acrobatic, yet gentle Humpback Whales visit our shores during the months of June through to the end of November to mate, and to have their babies in the warm waters of Indian Ocean. The Humpbacks can travel up to 25,000 kms in their annual migration and they grace our Zululand shores during the Winter/Spring months so that their babies can grow in strength to survive the cold waters of the Arctic oceans on their return trip.
First you have the anticipation as you travel on the Whale train down to the beach…then comes the clench of the adrenalin rush to your tummy as we launch through the surf, playing catch with the waves, third is the sigh of relief as you go into calmer water and start the search for the Humpbacks!!
There is nothing more awesome than being out on the ocean with these magnificent Mammals…seeing a birth…a mating…sharing in the unmitigated joy of a breach as they lift that huge body completely free of the water, diamond bright water droplets spraying everywhere…the tug at your heartstrings as you sense the bond between Mother and baby… having an eye to eye meeting with one of these beautiful beings as it swims next to the boat for a few moments is an incredible experience, it is life changing, and soul stirring!!
And in parting:
This is definitely a “must” on your bucket list!! —says Lesley