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Memela “Primitive-chic bungalows, great hosts, fabulous location!”

Date posted: 2012-11-20

“Primitive-chic bungalows, great hosts, fabulous location!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 21, 2012

Our family stayed at Memela for 2 nights as part of a Kosi Bay hiking trip organized through Active Escapes. We really loved this place, run by Willis and his wife Janie.

Memela provides basic accommodations, but it is incredibly attractive and atmospheric . Willis, who built the bungalows himself, put lots of thought into their design—I\'d call them primitive chic. They are thatched with only 3 walls; one side is completely open to nature. The comfortable beds with crisp linen and mosquito netting are free-standing, nestled against an attractive cement headboard and sitting on gleaming cement floor. Our bungalow was situated to capture the incredible African sunrise. There is no electricity in the bungalows (only the main house). They are illuminated by kerosene lamps that provide a very romantic feel. The outdoor bathroom facilities are directly adjacent to the bungalow - basic, clean and plenty of hot water.

The main house, where Willis and Janie live with their 2 year old daughter Lily, is where family-style meals are served. Janie is a terrific cook and the dinner quality and presentation was befitting a 5 star resort. Janie and Willis are incredibly interesting and friendly hosts, and we had wonderful conversations with them -we felt like we were staying at a friend\'s place.

Memela is very remote and you need a 4X4 to get there (although pick-up was arranged for us). Memela is well located to explore the amazing Kosi Bay beaches and lakes. Willis can organize all sorts of different excursions -hiking, fishing, boating...

During our 4 week trip to South Africa we stayed in places that were more luxurious and expensive, but Memela was my favourite. It\'s a wonderful spot, run by great people.

Raffia Palm and Palmnut Vulture

Date posted: 2012-06-13

Raphia or Raffia they remain impressive.

The Raffia palms (Raphia) are a genus of twenty species of palms native to tropical regions of Africa, especially Madagascar, with one species (R. taedigera) also occurring in Central and South America. They grow up to 16 m tall and are remarkable for their compound pinnate leaves, the longest in the plant kingdom; leaves of R. regalis up to 25.11 m long[1] and 3 m wide are known. The plants are either monocarpic, flowering once and then dying after the seeds are mature, or hapaxanthic, with individual stems dying after fruiting but the root system remaining alive and sending up new stems.


Kosi Bay Map for region

Date posted: 2012-06-13

Just click the map below and do your bookings from this page. A great way to plan your route and do your bookings.

Elephant Coast Map Zululand Map Pongola Mkuze Hluhluwe Hluhluwe Umfolozi Park and Surrounds Mtubatuba St Lucia Empangeni Richards Bay KwaZulu Natal Sodwana Bay Elephant Coast Map Ponta Do Oura Kosi Bay Kwanganase Mabibi Ingwavuma Swaziland Mozambique Map Eshowe

Memela - "Simple and Authentic"

Date posted: 2012-06-01

“Simple but authentic”

4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2012

Willis and Janie (yanni) were great hosts and although the lodging is simple (outdoor toilet and shower, battery lights), the food was great and the guiding professional. We were able to see the Palm Nut Vulture, a particular wish, and also found baby loggerhead turtles at night hatching and heading for the ocean. Willis had only said he would try since it was a bit late in the season, but he made arrangements with a great guide and the interest of both in the resource was quite touching. He has great contacts and can arrange pretty much anything you would like at a reasonable rate. We were lucky enough to be there with his Mom and Dad as well, so we got to know the family - longtime SA, and his wife, Janie, as well. They have a lovely child, Lily, and we all shared a braai on the beach in addition to the regular fine meals at home. As an additional plus, Willis knows his birds, so if you have a special one you'd like, I would recommend that you try him.
Photos of Memela Bush Lodge, Maputaland, Maputaland Coastal Forest Reserve
This photo of Memela Bush Lodge, Maputaland is courtesy of TripAdvisor

iSimangaliso Authority

Date posted: 2012-05-30

Saved from dune mining, the 332 000 hectare iSimangaliso Wetland Park was listed for its outstanding natural values as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 1999. The iSimangaliso Authority was set up to manage the Park, created from 16 different parcels of land – a patchwork of state-owned land, commercial forests and former military sites.
These natural values are exceptional biodiversity, ecological processes and superlative scenic beauty – the sense of place that roused public opinion against mining. iSimangaliso also contains four wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

iSimangaliso has 220 kms of coastline, bringing together five ecosystems and ten unique destinations: Maphelane, Lake St Lucia, Cape Vidal and the Eastern Shores, Charters Creek and the Western Shores, False Bay, Sodwana Bay, uMkhuze, Lake Sibaya, Coastal Forest and Kosi Bay.

Park establishment programs have seen the removal of some 12 000 ha of alien plants and commercial forests. Wetland and dune rehabilitation programs, the introduction of game, runway upgrades, the building of new roads, game fences, new water supply and bulk electricity supply systems and substations have all contributed to building the new Park.

The all-weather Lubombo road (R22) – linked to the N2 from Durban – from Hluhluwe to the Mozambique border, via Kosi Bay has created an easy route for tourists and improved community access. Close co-operation between the Mozambican, Swazi and South African governments has almost entirely removed the threat of malaria from the area.

The visa waiver agreement between South Africa and Mozambique, effective since April 2005, has started to ease access into the region.

Kosi Bay

Date posted: 2012-05-30

Kosi Bay comprises four lakes linked by a network of channels. The Kosi estuary offers extraordinary snorkeling opportunities and is one of the world’s top fly-fishing destinations. Traditional fishing practices dating back 700 years are still passed down from one generation to the next. This is the only place where all South Africa’s mangrove species and the only stand of naturally occurring Raphia palms occur.

Leatherback Turtle Facts

Date posted: 2012-05-23

* The leatherback turtle, Dermochelys coriacea, is the largest turtle and fourth largest reptile.

* Leatherback turtles inhabit the deep waters of the world\'s oceans. They migrate between cold waters and tropical seas every 1 to 3 years.

* Male leatherbacks never leave the water. Female leatherbacks come ashore to lay eggs and nest. They lay clutches of roughly 100 eggs on warm, sandy beaches but don\'t nest continuously. Female leatherbacks nest once every 8 to 15 days.

* The leatherback turtle has a round, flat body and two pairs of flippers like all sea turtles. The leatherback is the only sea turtle not to have a shell. Instead of a hard bony plate, the leatherback has rubbery skin.

* Adults leatherbacks weigh 700 kg (1540 pounds) and measure 2 m (6.5 feet) in length. The largest leatherback ever recorded weighed 918 kg (2020 pounds) and measured 2.6 m (8.5 feet).

* Leatherback turtles feed on jellyfish and are a natural control for the jellyfish population.

* The leatherback is an endangered species and it is the last surviving member of the Dermochelys species.

Great Dive

Date posted: 2012-05-23

It has been a while since me and Isabelle dived but this morning we had a great dive, just the two of us with Darryl. Michelle had some discover scuba guests with but only one made it down to us later.

We were both impressed by 2 Big Ribbontail Rays (1.5m across), beautiful big Leopard Grouper and Boris the Potato Bass came round several times to be tickled.

Thanks Darryl, Clive and Michelle.


Hippo swim in the sea!

Date posted: 2012-05-23

Here in Kosi the hippos swim in the sea every now and then. Kyle who worked for Amangwane snapped this photo.



Date posted: 2012-05-14

From Johannesburg

pproximately 6.5 - 7hrs

From Johannesburg, head towards Piet Retief and then Pongola. Proceed through Pongola towards the town of Mkuze on the N2. 10kms before Mkuze turn left to Jozini - as you leave Jozini proceed over the dam wall. After 45km at a T-junction turn right towards “Kwangwanase”. Proceed for another 47km past Tembe Elephant Park (bad potholes, animals on road, be careful) - towards KwaNgwanase (Manguzi).

For non 4x4 guests :- Drive into KwaNgwanase (Manguzi ), through the town and near the end, look out for the Total Garage on your left handside. Opposite is a Tourism Information Office called IMVUBU INFO LAPHA.

From Durban

Approximately 4.5 hours

From Durban, proceed on the N2 North out of Durban bypassing Richards Bay, Empangeni and Mtubatuba and head towards the town of Hluhluwe. Turn off the N2 towards Hluhluwe, proceeding through the town until you reach the last traffic circle. Turn left towards Mbazwane/Sodwana Bay and proceed for 0.7 km and turn right again towards Sodwana Bay/Mbazwane. Shortly after turning right you will cross over a railway line. Proceed for 87 km bypassing Mbazwane on your right. Proceed straight through the circles following the signs to “Coastal Forest Reserve” and pass. Proceed for 46km km after Mbazwane (passing the Mseleni turn-off) and turn right at the circle Kosi Bay / KwaNgwanase sign.

For non 4x4 guests :- Drive into KwaNgwanase (Manguzi ), through the town and near the end, look out for the Total Garage on your left handside. Opposite is a Tourism Information Office called IMVUBU INFO LAPHA.

Kosi Bay Bookings & Inquiries

Date posted: 2012-05-14

Kosi Bay Bookings, Inquiries, Accommodation & Reservations

Bush Camps, Lodges, Guest houses, B&B and self catering places.


Other Maputaland LINKS

Date posted: 2012-05-21

Kosi Bay Aerial Shot of Fish Kraals

Date posted: 2011-02-16

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The different names for Kosi Bay is:

  • Maputaland and Tembe Thongaland is the traditional name (after the king Mabhudu who reigned from Maputo to Kosi Bay).
  • Kosi Bay, Kosi Mouth, Kosi Lakes is the popular tourism destination names.
  • Isimangaliso and Elephant Coast is the marketing initiative names.
  • Manguzi is the small town community name which falls in the Kwangwanase district in the Umhlabayalingana Municipality.


Kosi Bay is in South Africa, Kwazulu Natal, Maputaland (part of the Isimangaliso Wetland Park).
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