KOSI BAY & MAPUTALAND
Hiking, Snorkelling, Turtle Tours & Canoe Safari's in a Tropical Paradise
Right up in the north-eastern reaches of KwaZulu-Natal on the Elephant Coast, hugging the Mozambican border, is the incredible Kosi Bay. Falling into the protective arms of the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, a world heritage site, the bay comprises four interconnected lakes which filter into the sea via a sandy estuary. The outstanding water quality of Kosi bay is partly what has made it such a prime beach destination.
Tropical beach vibes abound in Kosi Bay, the warm weather and mellow atmosphere will have you walking barefoot in no time along with the locals who rely on the lakes for subsistence fishing. Their 'fish kraals' made from the surrounding vegetation, make for beautiful geometric shapes in the lakes which are fantastic to photograph.
Stepping from fern and swamp forests, into mangroves, then grasslands and up to coastal dune forests; one begins to get a feeling for the diversity of ecosystems that exist in this unique conservancy. The best way to explore Kosi Bay is generally by foot, and the forest and dune paths that have been specifically designed with an ecotourism mindset make hiking an absolute pleasure. With Active Escapes slack packing options, one can really walk carefree as bags are transported from one beach lodge to the next.
Once you've had your fill of banana trees, Lala and Raffia Palms, ferns, cycads and mangroves; taking to the water for snorkelling in the Kosi Bay River Mouth is a must. Knick-named 'the aquarium' due to its clear water and abundance of fish species, the river mouth is also a breeding and nursery area which makes fish-viewing an extra special experience. If you're keen on checking out different areas too, Ponta do Oura is just over the border, while Rocktail Beach is accessible for world class scuba diving.
From November to February, the magnificent Loggerhead and Leatherback turtles can be seen coming ashore to lay their eggs and Active Escapes are able to arrange guided viewing tours for interested parties. However it should be noted that the heat can be exceptionally extreme from December to February; so March through to October is preferable for hiking.
The Pongola River is another asset of the northern part of KwaZulu-Natal, and as it flows through the Lubombo Mountains towards the coast it makes for excellent canoe trips as well as prime tiger fishing territory. There is absolutely no shortage of outdoor activities to keep one occupied, from dune hikes to swimming with dolphins and game viewing, Kosi Bay is an absolute South African treasure.