The main town in Maputaland is called Kosi Bay. This is a misnomer because there is no bay and the town known as Kosi Bay is still 30 km from the coast. Kosi Bay is also known as Manguzi (or eManguzi) situated in the KwaNgwanase district. The region signposted as Kwangwanase.
Maputaland is in the northern part of KwaZulu-Natal that is tucked in between Swaziland, Mozambique, and the endless white beaches of the warm Indian Ocean coast. It is a vast remote and magical place of shimmering lakes, forests, bush and pristine seashore.
Kosi (as locals refer to it) is a vibrant colourful African village and the surrounds (because it is so remote and difficult to reach) are undiscovered paradise that offers diverse and some unique tourism activities and attractions in a fabulous subtropical climate.
Attractions in the region can only be reached with a 4x4 vehicle. Therefore you have to go on daily excursions provided by your accommodation establishment or explore with your own your own 4x4.
Most accommodation establishments are located far from the beaches. Development is not allowed inside the Isimagaliso Park (a World Heritage Site) unless it is authorised by the Park Authority. Visitors have to pay for day entry permits into the Park. There are a limited number of permits available daily.
Only a few accommodation establishments provide daily excursions for guests who do not have a 4x4 vehicle and only a few accommodation establishments can obtain permits for you to go to the beaches. .
Activities & Attractions
Kosi Bay Lakes excursions are an experience to remember. The four interconnected lakes spill into the Indian Ocean. In the Kosi mouth you will find a reef in the estuary which is excellent for snorkelling. When boating on the lakes you will encounter hippos.
Another sight worth seeing in the Kosi lakes is the ingenious fish traps by the Thongas using stick kraals (enclosures) to harvest fish.
During turtle season (November to February) these amazing creatures, leatherback and loggerhead turtles; come back to the same place every year, after crossing oceans, to lay their eggs. It is an unforgettable experience and privilege to witness a giant leatherback (nearly 2 metres in length) or loggerhead turtle as she performs this miracle of nature.
Tembe Elephant Reserve is a conservation area where only a few privileged tourists are allowed daily to enter this remote 30 000 hectares. It is accessible only to guests with 4x4 vehicles or on a guided game drive. It features magnificent elephants, lions, giraffes and both white and black rhinos.
Youll find prolific bird life in Ndumo and Tembe Elephant Park - more than 400 species - 60% of all bird species in South Africa are found here. You might be lucky enough in Kosi Bay to find the Palmnut vulture and a Pells fishing owl.
Canoeing at Siyadla and Amanzinyama - the only places in South Africa where the five major species of mangrove occur, and over 300 bird species have been recorded. These include the rare and endangered palm nut vulture and Pells fishing owl. The raffia palm forest and Siyadla riverbanks in particular are a birder's delight. You will encounter crocodiles in the river and hippos in the 4th lake.
You can experience the best bird watching and fishing on the boat excursions on the lakes. This system consists of four lakes, which change from crystal clear salt water in the estuary through to black hippo waters in the Raffia Forest on the fourth lake, and a series of inter connecting channels, which eventually drain via a sandy estuary into the Indian Ocean. It is home to a large variety of birds and animals including hippos and crocs.
Snorkel at Black Rock, Mabibi or Lalanek beaches is recommended. You can also snorkel in the Estuary
Kosi is famous for fishing.
Go on short (half day) guided hiking trips. You cannot help to marvel at the knowledge of the guides when they explain the Thonga culture and the way they have lived off the land for centuries using what is available in nature.
Go on guided horse trails. Beginners to experienced riders are welcome. Non-riders are welcome to join a trip in the game drive vehicle.
Whale watching, Swim with dolphins or go scuba diving. The reefs off the Northern Maputaland coast are nothing short of spectacular. Along just 40 square miles of reef, over 1,250 different species of fish have been identified (compared with 1,600 species along the entire 1,200 miles of Australia's Great Barrier Reef.