Game Warden

Exploring Kosi Bay, KZN, South Africa. (Includes a visit to Tembe Elephant Park.)

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Manguzi.

 

The Safaritalk brief was this: following stays at iMfolozi, Mkhuze and Ndumo Game Reserves, (and squeezing in a brief stop at Zimanga Private Game Reserve), Bugs and I were to conclude our visit to northern Kwa-Zulu Natal by spending a couple of nights in Kosi Bay exploring the nature reserve, its world renowned lake system and discovering what this area has to offer the self-driving safari tourist: time permitting we also hoped to go on a day’s safari at Tembe Elephant Park. In the end, the experience turned out to surpass all expectations I had and one cannot truly say they’ve done KZN without having been to Kosi Bay…

 

Kosi Bay is situated on South Africa’s east coast, at the north east point of Kwa-Zulu Natal, approximately five kms south of the Mozambique border and comprises a series of four lakes which are linked by natural channels, (passable by smaller water craft), which, as they flow out to the Indian Ocean at Kosi Mouth go from being fresh water to salt water. An area of varied ecosystems and biomes, this spectacular area forms part of the greater iSimangaliso Wetlands Park stretching from St Lucia up to Mozambique. For an overview of Kosi Bay Nature Reserve, visit the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife website here, or the iSimangaliso Wetland Park website here.

 

Self driving, we relied heavily on a map I’d obtained from the Elephant Coast Tourism stand at Indaba, a road map of KZN from Mtubatuba north, an online virtual version of which can be accessed here. Of course we had a sat nav unit with its incessant chatter but being old school, I navigated from the map spread across my knees...

 

Once on the main road from Ndumo to Kosi Bay it’s a long straight drive on a newly laid tarmac highway: it takes you past the entrance to Tembe Elephant Park. We stopped briefly at the gate, where it states that you can only access the park in a 4wd – therefore we’d have to alter our plans somewhat. Close to a town named Phelandaba you join the R22 at a roundabout, the direct road to Mozambique heading north, whilst south linking up with Hluhluwe and then the N2 to Durban, (approximately five hours drive away).

 

Noticably the environment changes once past Tembe: the surrounds become more tropical, palm trees, flat stretching sand plains, one leaves the more typical safari veldt behind. Our destination is Manguzi: we arrive early, not expecting to make such good time, (in fact the last time Bugs drove this way 20 odd years ago it was a tyre shredding graded gravel track), and thus we are thinking to grab some bites and head up to the border with Mozambique before our scheduled pick up at 1600 hrs.

 

Manguzi is a throbbing, exciting town, markets and shops line the main road, masses of people, bright and colourful, a procession of cars, of minibus taxis stopping to pick up passengers and blaring loud music, a ubiquitous Boxer Superstore. On the northern most edge of town, almost on the outskirts on the left of the road is the Total complex and we pull in, our little white hire car the colour of red African soil. It’s been a solid performer and at 200 +/- rand per day covering 200 kms, a bargain, especially with such good fuel consumption. It’s ground clearance is somewhat limiting though…

 

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Our instructions from Kosi Forest Lodge, (where we'd be staying for the first night), was to meet at Total where we'd be picked up for a 4wd transfer. A 2wd has its limitations. In the Kosi Bay area you are made aware of this. Whilst the main road through town is good, side roads are less so, and tracks into the reserve soon turn sandy... The Total Garage complex is like an oasis in the desert. Clean, well run, reassuringly welcome and safe, featuring an ever present Steers, (which, alas, I believe to have caused the only case of runny tummy on the trip and it wasn’t just me affected…), and an excellent fishing tackle and sports hardware shop and store which sells an amazing range of nibbles, wasabi peanuts, biltong, droewors, drinks and self catering supplies etc. We stocked up on biltong and droewors which would see us through until we left for St Lucia.

 

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Grab a bite to eat, (though avoid the burgers), something to drink and sit in the shade whilst awaiting the transfer to Kosi Forest Lodge. Stock up on biltong too, it was great!

 

Whilst sorting the car, the owner of the whole concession came over to chat, Allistair McCann. Such an approachable and friendly chap, we talked about our trip so far, where we were staying in Kosi Bay etc., and in exchange I heard about Manguzi and Allistair's background in the town, how being part of the iSimangaliso World Heritage site has really been a boost for tourism. In fact, he said to include his contacts in case you are passing through and needed help as he knows just about everyone, so if in Manguzi, give him a shout on 082 337 5668 and mention Safaritalk. He’s someone who knows the town, has done a lot for it and helped encourage tourism thus is well respected. If you need anything, he's your man, and if he can't personally assist, he knows the right person who can.

 

Whilst we chowed on those fated burgers, he called Kosi Forest Lodge and arranged for an earlier pick up which was much appreciated...

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Kosi Forest Lodge.

 

The track to Kosi Forest Lodge is suitable for 4wd only and a transfer is provided for those without. You are met at Total by one of the lodge staff with a game drive converted pickup, which you follow to a secure parking area at another property in the town. Despite being safe, you are advised to bring everything with you, especially of value. It turned out to be a small world, our driver was the nephew of Chris Ngubane who had been our Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife host at Ndumo the night before.

 

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Lake Shengeza from where hippos honked in the night. Human habitations on the opposite bank.

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Entering the nature reserve which is fenced.

 

The drive to the lodge takes approximately 20 minutes along a rutted, undulating, sandy track, we’d have never made it in our rental. Once off the main R22 and out of town, you leave the chaotic pace behind you and there are fewer properties until you are driving through stretching plains in which tree cover becomes more dense, a protected area, a huge lake to your right, (Lake Shengeza), and you are through the gates to Kosi Forest Lodge itself.

 

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Blessing, an excellent host with deep booming character filled voice.

Whilst at Indaba planning our KZN itinerary I had been introduced to Nikki Meyer from Isibindi Africa Lodges by South African photographer Roger de la Harpe, (www.rogerandpatdelaharpe.com), someone I've followed through social media and via email exchanges for a long time, an expert on Ezemvelo KZN reserves and surrounding areas. Nikki arranged for @@Bugs and I to stay at Kosi Forest Lodge free of charge as it was central to where we wanted to visit - drinks were extra as was the morning's boating activity on the lakes which I'll detail later in the report.

 

Situated within the sand forest, Kosi Forest Lodge is in the form of a safari camp with tented/chalet accommodation set aside from the small boma, dining area, bar and reception. After a welcome drink and overview of the property from Blessing, (Sibusiso Mngomezulu), the jovial and friendly general manager, (who is from the area and has an affinity with both the natural and human aspects of Kosi Bay), we were taken to our chalet/tent.

 

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We had a family unit: luckily Bugs didn't snore much this night...

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Talk about refreshing: I was in dire need of a shower...

Chalet/tent number 7 was a family unit comprising of two linked bedrooms. Designed in a rustic and cosy safari style with raffia palm detailing it had three bathrooms, two inside, one out. The architectural design of the lodge itself centered around raffia bamboo/palm and is inspired by the Tsonga peoples' fish kraals evident in the lake system. Set deep within the forest the lodge feels at one with the trees, like it has grown organically amongst them and for instance, tent 7 where we stayed was under the "protection" of a large and mature waterberry tree looming overhead: we could hear a scops owl calling out. The tents are secluded and private from each other, set apart by winding sandy pathways.

 

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The boma dining area and reception area/bar.

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A cheeky rascal scuffling about on the roof.

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Bugs, freshly groomed enjoys a cuppa whilst catching up on Safaritalk.

In your room, upon the vanity table a flask of sherry awaits you, this is something provided on a help yourself basis in the boma as well: there's tea and coffee, homemade flapjacks, a bookshelf full of interesting books on Kwa-Zulu Natal and its wilderness spaces, (some going back decades), and it's interesting to while away a few minutes with a cuppa reading through them. Set up the camera and devices to charge etc.

 

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We take a walk up to the signposted swimming area, a small infinity pool with sunloungers overlooking Lake Shengeza which stretches away right to left, there are warning signs that hippo reside in the water and to take care, (I’m later to hear them honking at various intervals through the night). One sees across the water signs of habitation: not the grass thatched roofs of safari properties blending into the landscape but here and there the bright silver reflections of corrugated zinc: it serves as a reminder that this area is a combination of protected reserve and community dwellings. One wonders when the lodge was first built 20 years ago how much human encroachment there was upon the lake. The pool patio is a fine place to watch the sun go down...

 

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We were keen to check out the bird hide before it got dark, it's hidden away just a short walk from reception: set well aside from the accommodation down a sandy track and deep within the forest, there's no sound from the boma or tents. The hide, a simple wooden construction overlooks a man-made pool and you are hemmed in by tree canopies: there is a symphony of bird song from all sides and as a keen birder, Bugs quickly spotted a Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher...

 

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and using an app on his iPhone to play back its call...

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From www.xeno-canto.org

 

... initiated a conversation between us and it and although the light was fading we had close sightings as it flicked around the branches and onto the roof of the hide - a constant chatter and its delightful song called back to us. Our quick five minute visit proved productive: certainly more time spent in the hide would be very worthwhile indeed. We'd been enjoying our birding so far this trip and this short experience added to our tally.

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It really does sound like a delightful place

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At night the sand pathways are light up with paraffin burners – there comes the pungent smell from their wicks. Insect life buzzes through the tree canopies. Electricity runs morning until evening via a generator, (we discussed plans to convert to solar power in the near future), and then paraffin lamps are provided in the tents. You are also given torches, and due to there not being dangerous game it is safe to walk on your own at night.

 

A new fire pit area was being constructed at the time of our visit, closer to the boma and dining area which will encourage guests to relax by the fire before and after dinner as the other is a little walk away.

 

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Prior to dinner we sat up to the bar in conversation with Zack, one of the managers, (a qualified guide and turtle expert), about conservation challenges facing the Kosi Bay Nature Reserve. We sat down to eat, hemmed in by the dark night and the glowing paraffin lanterns: mushroom soup followed by steak on a bed of creamed spinach with baked potatoes, carrots and red onion relish, with panna cotta for desert.

 

Depending on the number of nights one stays, you can take part in complimentary activities including a guided canoe exploration of lake 4, a raffia forest walk, a boat trip through the lower lake system and estuary, whilst there are also extra activities for an additional charge such as a visit to Tembe Elephant Park, and, depending on the season, turtle watching with a qualified guide, (15th November to 15th January), to see both loggerhead and Giant leatherback turtles coming up to nest on the beach close by.

 

An early start in the morning, we are up before the staff to get in a few minutes in the bird hide as the day begins, looking for one of the many scops owls which we hear calling close to the dining area. We've arranged to do the boat trip through the lower lakes, exploring their varied ecosystems onboard a powered launch: with limited time available to us we’ll see more than from a canoe.

 

It's a ten minute drive through the milky half light of a misty morning from the lodge to a drop off point from where you walk to the boat mooring. Through stretching plains, fertile with grass and palms, sandy soils, a perfect safari setting only lacking for game species.

 

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And en route, a palm nut vulture, atop a palm tree, we are able to approach close and observe it for some minutes before it takes flight.

 

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George is to be our boat pilot and escorts us through the tropical raffia forest, a stretching ribbon dividing the plains from the lake’s edge: huge ferns stand guardian-like either side: as if we are entering a primeval world of dappled sunlight and shadow: the temperature drops and it feels damp, a Jurassic world in which dinosaurs would not be out of place. The soil, humus, so black, so moist, full of nutrients, years of decomposing palms and leaf matter, everything grows, there are snakes, black mambas, birds, the forest is alive around us.

 

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Climbing onto the motor launch from a wooden gangplank, we head out and soon approach, then avoid, hippos: we'll work down through the lakes, (you start on lake 3), they become more and more saline until lake one which blends with the estuary, (to which you have no access), and Kosi Bay Mouth flowing out into the Indian Ocean.

 

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Mangrove swamp forests replacing the raffia:

 

It is one of very few places on earth where five different species of mangrove trees are found in one area.

 

Source, www,en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosi_Bay

 

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Traditional Tsonga fish kraals dot the edges of the lake system and channels, more evident as you arrive at lake number 1. They are set to funnel the fish once they have spawned, on their return to the sea, (therefore mostly saltwater species are caught, Grunter, Rock Salmon, King Fish, Mullet etc.), a wide mouth slowly channeling down to closed end, wild banana palm frond is used to tie the stakes together, the knots of which allow gaps between the stakes allowing smaller fish passage, a sustainable fishing method used for hundreds of years. The kraal are all owned by different families and are the men’s domain, a kraal/s will be passed on from father to son, brother to brother as we are told it’s hard work to maintain them and catch fish in this manner. If one is caught stealing fish from a kraal the thief’s punishment is swift and painful, (though not fatal…).

 

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As George pilots us through the reed fringed channels, numerous birds are seen, a small flock of flamingos, kingfishers being predominant, purple herons, white breasted cormorants which spread their wings wide to dry them, stood atop the kraals. We count more than thirty species during our short time.

 

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Water monitors sunning themselves slide down into the water at our approach, the sun slowly comes up over the sand dune forest which separates the lakes from the sea. A huge amount of fish glide past, under and beside the flat bottom hull of our launch, the water at times crystal clear and you can see right to the bottom, flying fish in one of the lakes, jumping up and out of the water alongside of us, huge shoals of tiny fish leap through the bow waves. There is very little litter to speak of, though one sees every now and again a discarded beer can or soda can in the water.

 

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We see other people, sport fishing, on boats or camped on the shore.

 

The trip must have lasted three hours and as we returned to shore, the wind picked up and buffeted the launch, the surface of lake 3 becoming choppy - we bumped and banged through the waves. The boat cruise only runs if the weather is good.

 

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It’s a great way to get an overview of the lake system, the differing biomes, ecosystems: the fields, forests either side of the channels and one would hope traditional, sustainable fishing practises.

 

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George, our pilot and guide is an excellent birder and knows all of the recently updated nomenclature, spotting stuff for us which we couldn’t make out through the binos even once he'd pointed it out. Two fish eagles soar above us whirling through the sky from which the mist has burnt away: the sun is strong upon our arms. We look back to them as we dock, tie the boat up - and then they call: a sound which defines Africa for me. It’s a fitting farewell to our exploration of the incredible Kosi Bay lakes and something I cannot recommend highly enough. It is unmissable. From high viewpoints one can grasp the magnitude of this unique area, but only by boat, or canoe can you really appreciate how special it is...

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As you say @@Game Warden this is a very different area compared to many places in SA. Fascinating to see and read about it. Sherry supplied in the room? that really is quite a traditional touch.

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@@Bugs has informed me that my photo formatting is off, so I'll put this report on hold for a day or two whilst I re-edit the photos.

 

Matt

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Now with new and improved images... Matt.

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Hi Matt. Great to hook up at Indaba and please that you like one if our favourite places in South Africa. Looking forward to more...

 

Roger

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Utshwayelo Lodge and Camp.

 

After a hearty breakfast and settling up, we say goodbye to Blessing and transfer back into Manguzi, collect the car and head north out of town to our next destination, Utshwayelo Lodge and Camp.

 

Whilst at Indaba I'd visited the Elephant Coast Tourism Stand where I'd met Ken Whitfield who advised me on what to do and see in Kosi Bay: he manages Utshwayelo along with Enock Tembe a representative of the local Tsonga community. The rustic lodge and campsite was opened in 1992 by the local community and they continue to own the property but after a series of ups and downs, Whitfield came onboard taking out a long term management lease. Ken was keen that I should come up to Kosi Bay Mouth and see how tourism is benefitting the local community especially as they are major stakeholders and invited us to stay overnight with him at no charge, but in the end we paid for drinks and for @@Bugs' stay.

 

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Mozambique in front of us.
On the R22, you have to look out for the small signpost, (if you reach the Mozambique border you'll know you've gone too far...), the track is suitable for our car and after a few minutes drive we come to the entrance: the most northerly accommodation in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the Mozambique border is but a couple of kms further up the road. It’s also the closest accommodation to Kosi Bay Mouth, the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife's park entrance is right next door…

 

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Utshwayelo offers 3 levels of accommodation, camping spots, safari tents and chalets on a self catering basis. The chalets, whilst small are reasonably well equipped, the one we have with 2 single beds, outside shower and toilet joined to the chalet, braai area and seating. Whilst the tents I believe make use of communal bathrooms.

 

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There is a large covered boma and bar area, swimming pool and dining area, well equipped kitchens for self catering though breakfasts and evening meals are available by prior request. On the night we stayed, it was just us, and we had the bar to ourselves. One can imagine during the more popular seasons, the bar gets very busy and animated.

 

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Enock Tembe and I.

 

Unfortunately Ken was unable to be with us, but Enock spent the afternoon telling us about his family and the community, the history of the Tsonga peoples. Kosi Bay is a special place to them: I can understand why. To get to Kosi Bay Mouth itself, you have to acquire permits and enter through the gate next to the lodge. We thought to walk, but it's a very long way indeed and we were limited by time, so Enock drove us down in his Land Rover. First stop was a look out point which gives you a grand view of the complete Kosi Bay lake system.

 

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With Enock, where South Africa joins the Indian Ocean, Kosi Bay Mouth.

Once through the gate to Kosi Bay Mouth, it’s a long way and you need a 4x4 to get to the beach. Deep rutted sand track winds round through the forest to a lookout point from where you can have an incredible view of the 4 lake system until the estuary, filled with its traditional fish kraals, spills out into the sea. (In fact the lodge’s name, Utshwayelo is taken from the Tsonga word for the fish kraal).

 

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Enock's family's kraals are in the center here.

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Looking south, lakes 1,2,3 and 4.

 

Enock’s father operates 2 kraals which are in front of us. The edge of Africa tumbles down to meet the Indian Ocean through raffia palm forests, great sycamore fig trees, a forested sand dune divides the lakes from the ocean and it is a scene one imagines little changed since the time of the Portuguese Navigators who first charted this area and named it Natal, (Portuguese for Christmas.)

 

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Standing on the edge of Africa.

 

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Where this great continent tumbles into the sea.

The track winds down, you carefully edge across rickety bridges comprised of logs, splash through large saltwater puddles with the estuary to your right and eventually to park within the forest, ahead of us a lagoon ahead of which the beach, waves crashing and it’s an incredible view, an incredible sound, just us in the late afternoon: it’s deserted. Trees, fall from the land into the sea as the tide slowly nibbles away at the jungle surrounding it. I could stay here forever.

 

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Not often am I lost for words. This was one of those ocassions.

 

Returning via the same track we drove down on, I stop to take photos of the fish kraals in Kosi Bay Mouth with a glorious sunset behind them. It’s a magical place to be in the amber bronze glow of a late afternoon. In fact, I would go as far as saying the place you need to be just before sunset is here because even to the eye of an amateur like me, incredible photographic opportunities abound.

 

We've ridden across waves on a motor launch this morning, looked down from atop a lookout point with Enock pointing out his family's own kraals, in a sense giving us a greater connection to Kosi Bay and now on the last evening of our stay here, I'm provided this stunning vision, the edge of South Africa, golden, shining, illuminated. It's a moment which takes my breath away...

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~ @@Game Warden

 

The easygoing pace of this trip report is a joy to read.

I like the ample images scattered throughout.

On my computer screen in Beijing they're all bright and clear.

You include numerous relevant details, which nicely sets each vignette.

‘Blessing’ is quite a name!

I really like the two images above.

This trip report is a model of what any new member might do to prepare an engaging trip report.

Being at the edge of Africa, seeing the Indian Ocean — that's very special. I've yet to ever see the Indian Ocean.

Thank you for taking time to craft such a fine trip report without any ostentation. My favorite kind!

Tom K.

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Onwards to Tembe Elephant Park.

 

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It would have been a real shame not to visit Tembe whilst at Kosi Bay and it had initially been time and limitations of our vehicle which precluded a visit on the way from Ndumo. However, in discussion with both Zak at Kosi Forest Lodge, and Enock at Utshwayelo, it proved easy to make a plan and arrange a driver/guide with their own 4wd to take us to the park. Enock arranged a price of 1000 rand for the both of us, including park fees but not including refreshments, with a contact of his in Manguzi and we arranged to meet Stephen at the Total Garage, (which was becoming the go to place in Manguzi), at six am. The gates open at six and we had heard from a self driver we'd met previously that only ten vehicles are allowed in per day so as to keep visitor numbers down. (In addition to those staying in Tembe accommodation.) By meeting at the arranged time, we’d be at the park at around half past, it’s not a long a drive down the R22.

 

For more details about Tembe Elephant Park, visit their webiste here: www.tembe.co.za

 

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The noises emenating from this lorry were that of a Cape buffalo.

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We didn’t know what to expect to be honest, but were met by Stephen, a smartly dressed and extremely polite young chap who spoke fluent English and who drove a very nice Mitsubishi pickup – we paid half up front and the rest later, and followed along behind him, as later we’d be driving south from Tembe down the R22 and not back to Manguzi. We were able to park our car by the reception office inside Tembe gate whilst Stephen went off to deal with the entry permits. It turned out he was a regular visitor here, bringing many people from Kosi Bay for a day, and whilst not a guide, he knew the park and its road network like the back of his hand.

 

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It was a milky skied and misty sort of start to the day.

 

Our idea with Tembe was just to drive directly to one of the waterhole hides and sit up there for a number of hours, watching the wildlife come and go but as it was slightly misty and not that hot, we predicted that the waterholes would become busier later in the day. Tembe is a large reserve, 30,000 hectares, but most of the northern section is off limits to tourists and thus your visit is restricted to a number of sand roads in the southern area, all of which are well signed.

 

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Trying to photograph the marshland proves impossible. It stretches forever and no doubt conceals many predators...

 

We spend most of the morning driving the various routes and Stephen knows them well, including an impressive marsh area stretching for miles, you can drive on both sides which we did but sightings were sparse, limited to buffalos in the mist and a small herd of breeding elephants. We also had a good sighting of a Long-crested eagle. We snack on biltong chips and wasabi peanuts, gulp down ginger beer and watch for wildlife through the windows.

 

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Stephen proved to be a competent tracker, finding and following fresh lion tracks on the sandy road which brought us to a close up encounter with a pair of lions, a male and female.

 

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We stayed with them, on our own, for a good half an hour before predicting their progress and sitting up in the Ponweni hide where we saw them come out below us and proceed to drink from a water hole. Tembe has a good lion population and has in fact seeded Mkhuze previously with its new breeding population. Whilst driving round we only saw one other vehicle in the park, except parked up at the hide later in the day. And thus we were lucky with these lions, for in approximately 300 square kms, they were by the road and we had them to ourselves, undisturbed by other visitors.

 

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We arrived at the Mahlasela hide at around 11 am and stayed there until midday which was our cut off point for leaving the park. Whereas Ponweni had been quite dry, Mahlasela had a pumped pan and a steady progression of nyala came to drink and finally the elephants. One we noted had an obvious snare wound to his truck which had partially sliced through it, but it was an old healed scar and though looking to be awkward, this elephant had adapted to live with it. There was noise and arguments as the bigger males vied for the freshest water from the spout, Zebra’s brayed and were chased off. In the tree lines one could hear the approaching elephants trumpeting, the ground shaking as they ran towards the water. Despite there being a few people in the hide, all were focused on the action infront and below them: whispered greetings and discussions, what have you seen, where? And we engaged their guide in muted conversation about the rhino poaching situation in Kwa-Zulu Natal which cast a shadow upon the day. No one is keen to hear the real story of what is going on on the ground but it’s important to know. Through social media sources one only learns so much…

 

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Road block Tembe style.

 

Upon leaving the hide and heading to the main gate, we were confronted by a large bull who dominated the road and thus Stephen reversed to allow this gentle giant safe passage to the water hole.

 

We bade Stephen goodbye at reception and thanked him for his work and tipped him: it had been great having him drive us round and I think our morning's visit had been extremely productive. I was so pleased we’d made the effort and time to visit Tembe on my second to last day in South Africa.

 

Once out of the gate, we turned left and headed towards the roundabout where we’d join the R22 southbound towards St Lucia and it was the end of our visit to Kosi Bay.

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What a delightful add-on to the Primitive Trail. And a place to put the backpacks other than your back ;)

 

Thanks for sharing this Matt; places I've not been though always thought inviting esp if on a self drive. Who knows, I might even try that out.

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:) - if you travel with @@Game Warden the sign will take new meaning.

 

It had been a few years since I had travelled this far north. Kosi Bay has also been out of my traditional route. Its very much a fishing town, and probably does well during school holidays. Our whistle stop visit showed that it is also worth while as a birding destination and has some extraordinary habitat and lake systems that need to be explored. We were very fortunate to see the Palm Nut vulture - but there was mist and difficult to get a decent photo.

 

Seeing the lions at Tembe was unexpected. We left the hide just minutes before one of the big tuskers came in - we saw on our way to the gate heading to the hide, and didn't manage to get a photo.

 

Tembe is always worth a visit, and I highly recommend it for people who enjoy more comforts.

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Logistics of visiting Kosi Bay...

 

Ideally one needs to self drive to visit Kosi Bay and surrounding areas. (Doable in a 2wd using transfer pick up to some lodges, and hiring a driver/guide with a 4wd if visiting Tembe).

 

For this trip, (part of the greater KZN tour), @@Bugs hired a Nissan Tiggra from one of the car hire firms at King Shaka International Airport, Durban, a class B vehicle with added kms which cost 213 rand including 200 kms per day. (Which proved to be an incredibly economic vehicle).

 

To reach Kosi Bay one takes the N2 highway north from Durban to join the R22 at Hluhluwe, then a straight drive up towards Mozambique - a journey of approximately six hours duration on a good quality road. One could stop and break for a night at St Lucia for example, where there is numerous accomodation options (visiting iSimangaliso Wetland Park), or Hluhluwe, (taking a couple of days to visit Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park).

 

Depending on where you stay, you may well want to self cater, to keep costs down, in which case there are places in Manguzi where you can stock up on supplies. (Some mentioned in my initial post).

 

There is a risk of Malaria, and thus you are advised to consult your doctor prior to leaving home about taking medication.

 

The are many accomodation options in Kosi Bay to choose from budget to high end and a good list can be found here. (www.visitelephantcoast.co.za) There is also the option of staying in the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife property here.

 

Out of season will be easier to find somewhere to stay but in the school holidays and perhaps the turtle watching season, (15th November to 15th January), spaces will be at a premium and you are advised to book in advance.

 

Activites which I did included the boat tour of the Kosi Bay lakes system and visit to Kosi Mouth. Both I can recommend highly. Also time permitting the guided canoe trip and raffia forest birding walk from Kosi Forest Lodge, based on what I experienced would also be very worthwhile. In the right season I would have loved to have seen the turtles nesting, I believe some Safaritalk members have done this and perhaps can comment better? A visit to Tembe is also a must, whether self driving in a 4wd or with drive/guide as I did above. Bear in mind the rule of 10 self drive vehicles per day. There are more options, such as snorkling and scuba diving, sport fishing etc., listed here, (www.visitelephantcoast.co.za), and here, (www.isimangaliso.com).

 

Although a nature reserve, there is no dangerous game present, though there are snakes, crocodiles and in the lakes, hippos, so one should be attentive, especially if visiting with children.

 

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife lists precautions for Kosi Bay here.

 

Is Kosi Bay easy to get to?

 

Yes, if one is self-driving.

 

Should I go to Kosi Bay?

 

Yes, for a completely different wilderness experience, a must do combination if self driving and visiting wildlife reserves in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

 

Would you go back?

 

Yes, and next time, with my family.

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Informative as always! A nice private lion sighting, as well.

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Thank you for taking us along through words and the awesome pics! I just love Kosi Bay too.

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Nice work GW.

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Posted (edited)

 

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Bugs, freshly groomed enjoys a cuppa whilst catching up on Safaritalk.

What a difference between this sipping scene and that other one in the Primitive Trail thread.

Pith or not, your adventure begins!

Edited by Atravelynn

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