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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.

Kosi Bay Hiking & Slackpacking

Date posted: 2012-05-23

The Kosi Trail is a collaboration between various Kosi Bay Lodges, Bush Camps, Communities and guides. It is designed for guests to experience a variety of accommodation(lodge, huts, camps), catering and hosts. During the trail guests will see and experience the best attractions and activities Kosi has to offer.




Date posted: 2012-05-14

4 Night Slackpacking Trail - Kosi Bay, Maputaland

The Kosi Bay Hike is an escape into one of the most inaccessible and ecologically special parts of South Africa. It is a region of pristine diversity, consisting of four interconnected lakes and an estuary that opens out into the warm Indian Ocean. It forms part of the protected iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which was South Africa's first World Heritage Site.

Due to the many activities on offer, this is a flexible trail which can be tailored to suit the time, fitness and interests of the group. You will not walk more than 17km a day, winding your way from isolated beaches to cool dune forest, through open savannah and wetlands. Each day brings a new natural or cultural fascination. From watching the local fisherman spear a prize mullet in their traditional fish kraals to seeing the loggerhead turtles waddle ashore to lay their eggs (Nov – March), snorkelling in a natural aquarium or tasting locally brewed lala palm wine.
Trail Description

Fossilised corals & shell middens on the 65-metre high dunes between Kosi Bay mouth & Ponto D'oura

Fossiled corals and shell middens can be found on the high dunes between Kosi Mouth and the Mozambican border.

swamp, mangrove, raffia & coastal dune forests are found in the Kosi Bay area

Ferns of many different variety are abundant in the swamp forests through which the Kosi Bay trail passes.

A fallen star from one of the trees in the mystical swamp
forests through which the trail traverses.

Lake Makhawulani is renowned for its extensive network of palisade fish kraals, which have remained relatively unchanged in living memory. Whilst fishtraps have been shown sustaianble, the use of illegal gill nets and more modern fishing techniques & external-led demand has led to over-exploitation

View across 1st lake & Kosi Mouth estuary with the patchwork
of fishkraals used by the local Tonga fishermen. Each kraal
consists of a guide fence that curves towards a fish trap that
allows the fish easy entry but no escape.

Kosi Bay lodge, 3rd lake, boat tours to visit fishtraps & turtle tours

The pool at Kosi Bay Lodge provides a welcome sight on Day 3 of the Kosi Bay Trail.

The mouth of the magnificent Kosi System is the northernmost feature of the Maputaland coastline and protected as a no-take zone

Snorkelling at Kosi Mouth is a highlight. With 200 fish species recorded & astounding water clarity - it's like being in a natural aquarium.

You will overnight in comfortable bush and beach camps, each place providing a welcoming and unique experience. The trail is led by local community guides who are happy to share their knowledge and heritage, so you leave not only 'refreshed' but enriched. An inclusive boat excursion from Banga Nek (3rd Lake) to 1st lake will have you meandering through the reed channels, with an opportunity to snorkel in the channels and along the mangrove banks, visiting the Tonga fish traps on Lake Makhawulani (1st Lake). These palisade fish kraals consist of a guide fence that curves in towards a fish trap allowing the fish easy entry but no escape. Fish moving through the channel are guided into the traps where they are then caught and speared by the trap owner. Ownership of these kraals is handed down through the generations.

Other activities such as snorkelling and birding are very much part of the hike experience whilst additional activities like a deep sea ocean experience, diving or specialised fishing trips can be organised on request. Being a 'slackpacking' trail, your luggage will be transferred from camp to camp which makes walking along sandy trails a lot easier!

Book through

+27 727273079



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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