Turtle Tracks – Kosi to Mabibi

If you wish to combine the best of the Kosi lakes and Maputaland's finest beaches, then consider our Kosi to Mabibi 'Turtle Trails'. Both options start out at Kosi Beach Camp, and thereafter, hikers can chose from a combination of accommodation options to best suite their pocket and distance aspirations.

At the high-end, the Leatherback trail connects the exclusive lodgings of Kosi Forest and Thonga Beach Lodge to one another. The Loggerhead trail goes to a new camp on the lakeside of Bhanga Bek and then finishes at eco-chic Gugs camp, near Lala Nek.

On all trips, you cross the lake system by foot and boat, meandering through the channels from first lake to third, and then a short 4x4 transfer to connect the lakes to Black Rock and the golden beaches stretching for miles beyond.

  • Trip Duration4 Nights / 3 Hike DaysExtra hike or lay days avail
  • Daily DistancesDay 1: 13km / 7hrDay 2: 9km + Boat Safari / 5-7hrDay 3: 13 / 7km / 5-7hr
  • Trail Grading2-3 / 5 - Fitness. Soft sand or a beach camber can make it harder-going in places1 / 5 - Technicality. No scrambling or sheer sections
  • Trail TerrainCoastal Trail passing through diverse ecosystems – open savannah, wetlands, coastal dune and fern forests, shallow lake crossings, and golden miles of sandy beach
  • AccommodationSafari Style Tented Camps and Luxury Bush and Beach Camps.
  • Logistic SupportFully-catered & guided hike with luggage transfers, vehicle back-up, 3 Lakes boat-trip, snorkelling and end-point transfers all included.
  • Group SizeMin 2 persons and max 12 persons
  • PricingDependent on trail choice & group size, but based on a group of 6-10 persons: R10,300 - R18,600/pp/sharing
At a Glance

Starting out close to the Mozambican border, the route meanders along the top of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising 3280km2 of natural ecosystems. After snorkelling between colourful sealife in the crystalline aquarium of Kosi Mouth, hikers leave Kosi Bay to walk through coastal savannah with a view of the giant fish traps curling far below like an ancient tribal tattoo. The hills are a mixture of water berry trees, monkey apples with their bright green cricket ball sized fruits, and giant flat crown acacias.

After a boat trip across Third Lake, hikers are dropped at Bhanga Nek and from here it’s an adventurous walk along sandy pathways, dropping in and out of rural villages, pockets of indigenous bushveld, and small cultivated gardens before the landscape changes once again. The giant Raffia Palms that the area is famous for tower overhead, and views of the tannin coloured Fourth Lake (Amanzamnyama) are visible from the dense forest.

Day two and three of walking moves guests from the mysterious inland pathways of the lake systems to the beautiful wide open beaches further south. Beaches such as Black Rock and Lala Nek are picture-book wedges of white sand, edged by snorkeling paradise.

  1. Day 1 - 4N Opt A - Luxury Leatherback TrailArrival Day: Self-drive to Sodwana - Transfer

    Self-drive to Sodwana (4hr from King Shaka / 348km)

    Leave vehicles in secure parking here and transfer provided through to Utsh Beach Camp (+/- 1.5hr transfer)

    Overnight: Utsh Beach Camp - Luxury Tusker Tents (Dinner)

  2. Day 2Hike Day 1: Kosi Mouth – Fourth lake + 3 Lakes Boat trip (14km hiking + 12 km boat-trip/ 8hrs)

    Hike down towards Kalu inlet, crossing over to eKovukennni peninsula. Boat collection at 1st lake – Ekovukenni side. Enjoy 3 lakes boat trip – with opportunity to snorkel in the channels. Drop off at Bhanga nek – hike along 3rd lake shoreline & through some villages to Siyadla River – 4th Lake. Cross over by Raffia Pont & then hike through to Kosi forest Lodge

    Overnight: Kosi Forest Lodge (breakfast, packed lunch & dinner)

  3. Day 3Hike Day 2: Black Rock – Lala Nek (12km /7km / 5-6hr total time)

    Early morning – guided canoe paddle on the Siyadla River into 4th lake.

    Breakfast. 4x4 collection – transfer to Black Rock (24km – 4x4 tracks). Guided Hike Black Rock / Old Rocktail – Lala Nek (12/7km).

    Enjoy snorkeling at Lala Nek (tide permitting) – then short transfer up to Gugs Camp.

    Overnight: Gugs Camp (breakfast, packed lunch & dinner)

  4. Day 4Hike Day 3: Lala Nek to Thonga Beach Lodge (14 / 9 km / 3-4hr)

    Short transfer down to Lala Nek OR Rocktail.

    Guided Hike Lala Nek/ Rocktail – through to Thonga Beach Lodge.

    Sunset safari drive to Lake Sibaya

    Overnight: Thonga Beach Lodge – Forest View (breakfast, packed lunch & dinner)

  5. Day 5Departure Day

    Opportunity for morning snorkel, breakfast, and 10.30 transfer back to Librodi Lodge, Sodwana (1hr).

    ** Or stay an extra night

Dappled Dune Forest

After crossing the Siyadla river by raffia-pont

Pearly sands and Turquoise Ocean

Hiking out of the dunes on towards Lala Nek

Luxury Beach and Bush Camps - all ensuite

Exclusive Canvas, Thatch and Wood Chalets

Gourmet Catering

Snorkelling, boat trips, kayaking, turtle trails (in-season)

Gugs Camp
  1. What type of footwear is best?

    Trainers or strops are best suited to this trail. Strops allow sand to pass through and are great for the estuary crossings, but can cause chaffe when wet. With lightweight tekkies/trainers - just check that they have a solid liner under the upper mesh otherwise sand comes in from the top. Or wear lycra trail running gaiters to prevent sand from getting into the shoe.

  2. What is the best time of year for this trail?

    Kosi Bay has a warm to hot and humid subtropical climate. It has an average yearly rainfall of 980 mm with rain occurring primarily during summer from Oct to March, with the most rain from Feb to March. May through to November provides the most pleasant hiking temps, but if seeing the turtles is a high priority, then you should plan your hike for Nov - end of March.

    Availability is generally not a problem outside of the peak school holiday periods.

  3. Can we do this hike without the luxury lodgings?

    This trail does entail more costly support logistics (more & longer transfers, guide support etc) but it is possible to use some more budget lodging alternatives, and consider the Loggerhead trail which finishes at Gugs.

  4. What special fauna and flora exists?

    Kosi Bay is a sanctuary for many special & protected faunal & floral species. From the ancient Cycads to the most southerly grove of the giant Raffia Palm (whose fronds /leaves are the longest of any plant species in the world) on which the rare fruit-eating Palm-nut vulture depends.

    The Kosi Lake system is especially important for migratory birds such as the Greater & Lesser Flamingos and Ospreys. The protected lakes provide an important nursery function & supports some of the largest populations of 8 fish species that are listed in the Red Data book for threatened or vulnerable species.

    From November the leatherback and loggerhead turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, and from about December, the young start to hatch and run the gauntlet down to the ocean.

  5. Do we get to see the Turtles?

    Please remember the turtles only come ashore and lay their eggs or hatch, during a limited season - generally from mid November to the last hatchlings in March. Turtle Viewing Tours are an inclusive activity from Thonga Beach Lodge (if doing Opt A - Leatherback) and are also possible from Bhanga Lakeside camp and Kosi Forest Lodge (at Bhanga Nek), or from Gugs - along the Lala Nek beach stretch. They are approx R900/pp to include transfers/ vehicle, certified guide & concession fee's + permits. Please let us know if doing a turtle tour is a bucket-list wish for your group.

  6. Is malaria a problem here?

    The Kosi Bay area is still classified as an 'intermediate risk' area according to the Health Department but if you ask the lodges they will tell you this is very outdated. I would only take prophylactics if you are a high risk candidate (pregnant, elderly). Almost all of our hikers dont take, and we have never had a case of malaria reported.

Leatherback Trail - 4 Nights Luxury (Utsh Beach Camp - Kosi Forest Lodge - Gugs - Thonga Beach Lodge)

Group SizePrice (PP) 
2 Persons
R21 200/pp
3 Persons
R19 800/pp
4-5 Persons
R19 000/pp
6-10 Persons
R18 600/pp
11 or more
R18 300/pp

Loggerhead - 4 Nights Eco (Utsh Beach Camp x 2N - Bhanga Lakeside - Gugs Eco-camp)

Group SizePrice (PP) 
2 Persons
R11 700/pp
3 Persons
R10 900/pp
4-5 Persons
R10 500/pp
6-10 Persons
R10 300/pp
11 or more
R10 000/pp
Whats included in this tour
  • Opt A - 4 Nights Accom (sharing basis): Utshwayelo Beach Camp, Kosi Forest Lodge, Gugulisizwe, Thonga Beach Lodge
  • Gourmet Meals: from dinner on arrival day to breakfast on departure day (4 Dinners, 4 Breakfasts, 3 Trail lunches)
  • 3 Privately Guided Hike Days
  • Daily Luggage Support/Transfers
  • Return & Group Transfers
  • 3 Lakes Boat Trip
  • Thonga Fishtrap Tour
  • Snorkelling at world-class shallow reefs: Kosi Bay Mouth, Lala Nek, Hully Point
  • Kayaking on Lake Sibaya
  • All Hiking & IsiMangiliso Reserve Permits
  • AE Tour Reservation & Customisation Service
  • In Season (Nov - Mar) Turtle Tours can also be arranged