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Kosi Bay consists of a series of interconnected fresh water and saline lakes, formed about 100 million years ago and that drain out – via ancient vegetated dunes – into the Indian Ocean on the north-eastern end of the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa. Other than the crystal clear lakes, the Kosi Bay area has the largest swamp and palm forests in South Africa, a great variety of animal and bird life, endless stretches of golden, deserted beach and is surrounded by a nature reserve.
Five species of mangrove tree thrive here and the rural people use ingenious methods to trap fish along the estuary. Sharks, dolphins, turtles and whales are commonly seen in the ocean while hippos, crocodiles and otter frequent the lakes. Approximately 250 bird species have been recorded here including the palmnut vulture, the world’s only vegetarian bird of prey!
Kosi Bay’s climate is sub-tropical and temperatures range between 17° in winter and 29° in summer. The rainy season is between October and March.
The area’s remoteness and cultural and biological diversity makes Kosi Bay a legitimate eco-friendly destination.
Top 6 reasons to visit Kosi Bay
1. For a memorable wilderness experience, take the 4-day hiking trail through the Kosi Bay Nature Reserve to learn more about this captivating ecosystem. A highlight is the crossing of the Sihadla River on a pont constructed from the raffia palm and then walking into thick virgin forest.
2. Hire a boat to enjoy fishing on one of the pristine lakes where over 100 species of fish occur. As the lake system is essentially a fish nursery, anglers are encouraged to catch and release.
3. Visit the Bhanga Nek turtle nesting site where Loggerhead and Leatherback female turtles arrive on the beaches at night to dig a hole and deposit their large clutches of eggs before returning to sea, or visit 2 months later when the babies hatch and make their perilous dash to the safety of the ocean.
4. Snorkelling and diving is popular along the reefs located within the river mouth. The area has been designated a sanctuary and fishing is forbidden. A recommended swimming site is at Black Rock, however, a permit is required to access the area.
5. Visit the fascinating fish kraals in the estuary to see how generations of Thonga people have used reed fences and woven baskets to herd fish into a wooden enclosure. Once the fish are in the enclosure, they are trapped and easily collected.
6. Take a drive to Tembe Elephant Park for viewing of 3 of the Big 5, namely – the African elephant, rhino and leopard. The spotted hyena, monkey and several antelope species also inhabit the park.
The nearest airport is in Richards Bay, 258km from Kosi Bay. Fly in to Richards Bay via one of the three international airports in Durban, Cape Town or Johannesburg. Hire a car from any of the rental agencies at the Richards Bay airport or order a vehicle online. There are no formal taxis in the area, the only viable transport option is a hired vehicle (a 4x4 is suggested) or scheduled tour.
Did you know?
The Zambezi shark is considered extremely dangerous and is responsible for many human deaths, however, it is simply because this is one of only a few shark species that enter fresh water. Often, river mouths are murky and the Zambezi might confuse a human with prey. To avoid any chance of attack, stay out of churning water in and round river mouths, and towards dusk when this shark feeds.
Kosi is a misspelling of the word Mkuze as well as a survey error because the Mkuze River is far from Kosi Bay.
There is a slight malaria risk in the extreme north of the country encompassing a section of Kosi Bay, take the necessary precautions before travelling into the area.