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Raffia Palms (Raphia)

Date posted: 2012-06-01

The Raffia palms (Raphia) are a genus of twenty species of palms native to tropical regions of Africa.
Kosi Bay is known for it's raffia forest.

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 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.

The palm nut vulture makes it's nest on top of the palm.

raffia palm

Kosi Bay Birding

Date posted: 2012-06-01

In Kosi Bay you can find the biggest mammal (whales), the largest land mammal (elephants), the largest sea turtles (leatherback turtle), the largest fish (whaleshark), the smallest antelope (suni), dolphins, the best birdwatching (a Pels fishing owl and a Palmnut vulture) the best fishing, the best diving, untouched coral reefs, untouched culture, pristine nature and the list does not end here... What are you waiting for?

In December we were extraordinarily lucky while we were out canoeing with a Belgian guest on the river. The Siyadla river flows into the fourth and last of the Kosi lakes, furthest away from the mouth. It is a little Amazon. Here you will find the giant raffia (raphia) palms, loved by the Palmnut vultures, and you can hike for hours under a canopy forest.

We were canoeing early afternoon on a cloudy day when suddenly we came round a bend and looked up to see a Pels Fishing owl in a low branch five metres away from us. This was our first eyeful of this magnificent and elusive bird and naturally we made a big commotion and I had to back paddle so that we do not glide into the shore just below the owl.

Pels Fishing Owl

The owl was not that startled but we were too close for comfort and it flew up and to the top of the tree behind us. Suddenly we heard a swoosh sound above our heads from a Palm Nut Vulture who promptly knocked the Pels Fishing owl off the top of the tree. After a scuffle the owl disappeared into the undergrowth and that was the last we saw of it.

That is nature for you – both spectacular and capricious. Our guest did not know how special this sighting is but she just marvelled at our exclamations. I believe we will never see anything like this again but I am waiting for the next spectacular wonder to reveal itself.


Wil and Belle

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.

What an awesome week! "I can definitely recommend Kosi Bay!"

Date posted: 2012-05-23

I came across this blogsite with excellent photos of Maputaland Bush Camp posted by Michelle on her blog.

Kosi Bay and the hatchling turtles!

Posted by michellelutener in South Africa.

Well, what a fantastic weekend. Five of us hired a car and I drove us up North (300km) to Kosi Bay which is still part of the Isimangaliso Nature Reserve. It was a lovely drive and the beaches and lakes around Kosi Bay were beautiful! We went up there because it is the season to see the baby hatchling turtles making there first journey down thebeach to the big open ocean.

We were picked up from the town of Manguzi and driven by 4×4 to the accommodation we were staying at(Memela Bush Camp). You can only get to Koi Bay by 4×4 as it is basically all sand dunes. We were staying at a lodge which was basic and rustic. It was awesome. We were out in the bush in the middle of nowhere with an outside toilet and bathroom. It was wonderful and actually very comfortable:

After a spot of lunch we then went off road to the lake where we were played a bit f volleyball in the lake and then jumped on a boat for a drive around two of the lakes in the area which are connected by a channel. We saw several hippo and different birds and then had another swim. It was so picturesque and relaxing, especially with the beers supplied on the baot! That’s the life.

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After the boat trip we headed to a beachfordinner. We watched the sun set whilst eating dinner and trying to avoid the crashing huge waves that were creeping up the beach. It was simply beautiful.

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After dinner (and a few more beers…) we met up with our guide, Victor, who was going to take us for a walk along the beach to try and find the hatchling turtles. We headed of in the darkwith the beach only being lit by the moonlight. Victor had a torch and walked higher up the beach to look for the hatchlings. After about 45 mins walking he found the baby turtles that were out of their eggs and heading down the beach to the ocean. We sat and watched them for ages as about 30 baby turtles were walking straight down the beach one after another or in pairs or threes. Their little legs / fins (or whatever you want to call them) were struggling to walk through the sand, but they all somehow managed to and then just got swept away in the waves. It was amazing to watch. Just look how tiny they are!

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We then headed back to the lodge and our chalets and the sky was so clear I decided to try and capture a star trail shot. I have been wanting to do this for ages but have never quite managed, so am realy pleased with this attempt!

The next morning we headed to the beach and I tried to swim in on the waves which were huge. It really was the perfect end to a wonderful weekend. I can definitely recommend Kosi Bay!

By the way, here is one of my hippo shots from the other day that I promised I would add to this update.

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.

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.


Kosi Bay Hiking & Slackpacking

Date posted: 2012-05-21

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.



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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