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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

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!


Trip Duration Standard Hikes: 4 Nights / 3 Hike days - 6 Nights / 5 Hike days
Shorter & customised hike options also available.
Daily Distances Distances will vary depending on route selection, but STD 4 Day Trail:
Day 1: 13.5km (4hr hike time)   Day 2: 17km  (5-6 hr hike time)
Day 3: 10 -12.5km   (4hr hike time) 
Trail Grading  
Physical Fitness Grade 2- 3: generally short daily distances & little ascent (being a coastal trail) but the soft sand makes it harder-going in places.
Technicality Grade 0-1: no scrambling or sheer sections
Trail Terrain Coastal Trail passing through diverse ecosystems open savannah, wetlands, coastal dune & fern forests, shallow lake crossings.
Accommodation Rustic Lodges & Safari Style Tented Camps. Hot water showers & communal dining area.
* Extra nights can be spent at any of the trail camps
Logistic Support This is a fully-catered & guided hike with inclusive daily luggage transfers and a 3 Lakes boat-trip included.
Tour Highlights Diversity & pristine beauty of the region. Fascinating history and local culture such as the traditional Fish Traps on first lake. Loggerhead & leatherback turtles nesting & hatching in-season (Nov Mar), Raffia Palms & rare Cycads. Mystical fern forests; snorkelling at Kosi Bay Mouth a natural aquarium of tropical fish & eels. Golden miles of undeveloped beaches. Warm Indian Ocean. Tropical beach vibe & Mozambique just a few kilometre's away.
Other Activities Ocean Experience view whale sharks & dolphins; Scuba Diving; Mokoro-style canoe trip on the Siyatla River going into protected 4th lake; Turtle tours in season (Nov Mar). Excellent birding & fishing; Ocean swimming; Deep sea fishing trips; Snorkelling in one of the best natural aquariums.
Fauna & Flora Kosi Bay is a sanctuary for many special & protected faunal & floral species. From the ancient Cycads to the most southerly grove of the giant Raffia Palm (whose fronds /leaves are the longest of any plant species in the world) on which the rare fruit-eating Palm-nut vulture depends. The Kosi Lake system is especially important for migratory birds such as the Greater & Lesser Flamingos and Ospreys. The protected lakes provide an important nursery function & supports some of the largest populations of 8 fish species that are listed in the Red Data book for threatened or vulnerable species.

The mouth of the magnificent Kosi System is the northernmost feature of the Maputaland coastline and protected as a no-take zone. Over 200 species of fish have been recorded in the Kosi mouth and this makes snorkelling in the area, like being in an aquarium.
Climate Kosi Bay has a warm to hot and humid subtropical climate. It has an average yearly rainfall of 980 mm with rain occurring primarily during summer from Oct to March, with the most rain from Feb to March.

Kosi Bay boasts 300 days of sunshine & the avg daily maximum temp extends from 28 deg C in January to 22 deg C in July, but extremes can reach 43 deg C and 34 deg C respectively. Average daily/nightly minima are 19 deg C in January and 10 deg C in July. The prevailing wind directions are north-east and south-west in almost equal proportions. The calm and clean winter weather makes this coast one of the most attractive holiday destinations in South Africa.
Seasonality & Best Time Year Summer months tend to be hot and humid. Winters are mild and dry. Humpback whales can be seen off the coast from June to Dec. Nov to early March is turtle nesting season and also the best time of year for waders. The months of Dec - Feb are particularly hot and humid so we prefer NOT to offer the hike during these months.

Availability: Is generally not a problem OUTSIDE of school/public holidays.
Group Size Minimum 2 persons & maximum 14 persons.
If you are a larger please still enquire.
Price / PP 4-Night Trail - Based on a group of 5+ Persons: R5700/pp
5 Night Trail- Based on a group of 5+ Persons:R7200
Price Includes
  • 4x4 Transfer to start of the trail (leaving vehicles at end point)
  • 4 or 6 Nights Accommodation in tented / Mozambican style Beach & Bush camps
  • All meals: from dinner on arrival night to breakfast on departure day
  • Hiking Guide for all hike days
  • Luggage Transfers between camps on all Hike days
  • All Beach Access, Reserve Permits & Daily Trail Fees
  • A 3 Lake Boat Excursion from 3rd 1st lake - opportunity to snorkel in the channels and along the mangrove banks on 1st lake & explore the fishtraps.
Optional Extra Activities
** Please note that these activities prices are subject to change.
Prices Quoted /PP
  • Turtle Tours (season Nov Mar): R500/pp
  • Ocean Experience (boat trip to look for dolphins & whales): R600/pp
  • Fishing Trip: R450/pp (based on min no)
  • Tembe Elephant / Ndumo Park: R800/pp based on 4 min
  • Snorkelling: Free if own gear, otherwise equip can be hired for R40/set/day (fins, mask & snorkel). 4x4 Transfers can be arranged to special snorkel spots.

View Kosi Bay Hiking Trail in a larger map
birding in kosi bay, specials include - palmnut vulture, greater and lesser flamingos & ospreys The birding is excellent in Kosi Bay with endemic species such as the rare fruit eating Palm-nut vulture.

hiker descending dune - day 3 of the Kosi Hiking Trail Large Dunes and Ocean Blue.

image of lucky bean seeds Seed from the Lucky Bean Tree - Erythrina.
hikers walking from the fossilised dunes near Mozambique towards Kosi mouth
the kosi lake system moves from being a saline to freshwwater environment with all 5 species of mangroves being found in the area