In the very north of KwaZulu-Natal, where South Africa comes to a stop and Mozambique takes over, is a series of lakes that form an environmental wonderland. High vegetated dunes separate the lakes from the sea, and crocodiles and hippos keep the waters wild.
This is the very end of Maputaland and the Elephant Coast, a wilderness that contains fascinating local cultures, history and wildlife.
There is no town that goes by the name of Kosi Bay, but the area is served by the small, busy town of Manguzi, alternately known as KwaNgwanase.
This is where tourists can stock up on any items that have been forgotten or used up. However, most of the accommodation in the area is found out in the bush or on the coast in the various game reserves.
Kosi Bay Nature Reserve is the big drawcard, famed for its fishing but also a noteworthy destination for birding and game viewing. A series of lakes, the biggest known as Lake Kosi, are connected by channels that eventually lead to an estuary and the sea. Crocodiles and pods of hippo are ever present, so swimming is prohibited.
To the west are the Ndumo Game Reserve and Thembe Elephant Reserve, both well worth a visit. Just over the border is Ponto Do Ouro, a place of sun, surf and sea that is easily accessed by 4x4; it is close enough for a day trip from Kosi.
Look out for
The beach around Kosi Bay has been home to generations of leatherback turtles, which reach 500kg in mass and are the world’s largest marine turtle species. Tours can be organised to watch these beautiful animals laying their eggs. At other times you can watch the hatchlings start their dangerous journey to the sea and towards adulthood.
Visit Kosi Mouth, a separate section of the reserve, and snorkel the coral reef at the mouth of the estuary. Or wander through the shallows watching the locals at work, spearing fish that have been caught in the traditional reed fish traps throughout the estuary.
Fish in the lakes or from a boat, and stand a chance to catch anything from grunter to the many game fish that come in with the tide. Or try your hand at fly-fishing at Kosi Mouth for kingfish, springer and more.Take a drive to Ndumo Game Reserve and search for the narina trogon, the broadbill, palm-nut vulture, green twinspot and more of the 430 bird species that have been recorded here.
Go for a hike around Kosi Mouth. Local guides are always available and will point out all sorts of interesting things that you would have passed by on your own.