When any off roader or camper hear the name Kosi Bay, your mind immediately conjures images of pristine beaches and tropical bushes, right? Well, I can confirm that it is exactly what Kosi Bay showed us during our recent camping holiday. We spent a week camping at the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife campsite in Kosi Bay and we had such a good time that we were really bummed when we had to pack up our campsite shortly before New Year’s and head on home.
There are several privately owned camps sites and lodges in the Kosi Bay area but I chose the Ezemvelo campsite as it seemed to be the only camping grounds close to or next to the water. Kosi Bay Camp is situated on the crystal-clear blue waters of Lake Nlanghe. I wasn’t familiar with the resort so we didn’t have any particular camp site to book, I just figured that there couldn’t be any bad campsites in the resort, seeing that it was Kosi Bay. I booked our camp site in March 2018 and we got the very last camp site they had available which means that you have to get going early on in the year if you want to make a booking for the popular SA holidays. I was pleasantly surprised at the cost involved as our 7 night stay came in just under R4000-00 for the four of us.
All camp sites at Kosi Bay Ezemvelo has got its own power point (a blue caravan plug) as well as a braai and a water tap on your camp site. You have to bring your own braai grid as the ones that they give are a bit wonky and rusted. There are sixteen camp sites in total of which five are right next to the lake. There are two rather large ablution blocks of which one serves the lake side camp sites and the other are on the upper terrace, service the remainder of the camp sites. The ablutions are neat and tidy, with only showers, no baths. Little to zero cell phone reception in the camp sites, especially for MTN users, so be prepared.
We found the camp sites to be very spacious and on almost all of them you can fit two off road trailer’s or caravans. We were allocated camp site 15 but when we got to the site we found campsite hijackers had just taken over our camp site. Needless to say I was extremely irritated as we had to move our booking to their site, which were number 16. Camp site 16 is the smallest of all the camp sites and you can only fit 1 trailer or caravan on this site. It’s also kind of awkward in how they’ve positioned the braai and the water tap and it took some proper muscle to get our Xcape on the site. I’m sure I’ll be forgiven for ignoring the neighbors for the rest of the week. The two worst camp sites on the grounds are number 8 and 9 as they are situated across two terraces. I can’t imagine how you would get a trailer or caravan up those steep terraces so it’s more suited to tent campers. Another thing, they state a maximum of 7 people per campsite but it was clear that no one was adhering to this rule. The campsite hijackers must have had about 15 people on their site, so I’d say 7 people max is guideline only.
If you’ve been to any of the northern KZN camping resorts, you’ll be familiar with the concept of gillies or guides. These are locals who work for you at your camp site during the duration of your holiday. They usually do the dishes, tidy up around the camp sites and they will also guard your camp site against petty theft or monkeys. In Kosi Bay you can find these guys on the road in, or they will come introduce themselves at the camp site. You are not under any obligation to make use of their services but I saw that almost all the other sites had a guide or two pulling duties at their site. We hired a guide to look after our camp site whilst we were gone during the day but I didn’t need him to do dishes etc. His rate for a full service was R150-00 per day and we paid him R80-00 for his guarding duties. They will also accompany you to the various beaches in the area, as it is almost impossible to find these if it’s your first time visiting the region. If you were planning on seeing the turtles laying eggs on the beaches at night, the guides can also arrange these tours for you.
There is a small Ezemvelo office on the premises and this is where you book your permits to visit the Kosi Mouth or any of the beaches in the area. Due to the location of these beaches, they control the number of visitors per day and if you’re staying within the reserve you don’t have to pay for these permits. Just be sure to pick up your permit early in the morning, the day before your visit, as they get sold out very quickly. This office also sells ice and braai wood and a few other things like coldrinks and beer, and nothing much else.
You don’t need a 4×4 vehicle to get to the Kosi Bay Ezemvelo camp site as it’s mostly gravel roads with a small patch of sand here and there. A proper 4×2 with high clearance should be ok to navigate within the camp site but to get to any of the beaches or Kosi Mouth you need a proper 4×4. It’s deep sand on the roads in towards the beaches and you need to engage low range to navigate the sandy roads safely. You also need to lower your tyre pressure to at least 1.2 bar else you will get stuck, especially on your way out. It’s a single carriage road to get to the beaches so you have to be aware of oncoming traffic at all times and there is also a lot of cattle in this area so keep your eyes on the road at all times.
We visited Kosi Mouth and Black Rock during our holiday and were blown away by the beauty of the KZN North coast. Kosi Mouth is a snorkelers’ paradise and can be enjoyed during both high and low tide. It’s more challenging during high tide as you’ll have to wade through water for a longer stretch and it can be dangerous if there’s strong currents. Black Rock was just magnificent with pristine beaches that stretches as far as you can see and great snorkeling spots at the rocks, and the bluest seas I’ve ever seen. We needed a guide to get us to the beach as the sand roads make several twists and turns, our guide also looked after our vehicle whilst we spent time on the beach, as petty theft and crime is not uncommon in these remote areas.
We also visited Tembe Elephant Park during our holiday as it’s only about 60 kilometres away and even though it’s a beautiful park we didn’t get to see much as far as wildlife is concerned.
The closest town to Kosi Bay is Manguzi and you can get the basics from the Shoprite or SuperSpar but keep in mind it’s very basic. I’d rather not leave any of my holiday shopping till I get to Manguzi as chances are you won’t get anything you need there. There’s a couple of petrol stations in town so you can fill up your fuel tank whilst in town. Manguzi is also the closest town to the Kosi Bay border post going into Mozambique. We were planning on doing a day trip to Ponta do Ouro but seeing reports on social media of gridlocked border posts, rampant corruption and crime and overcrowded beaches, we decided to give it a miss. To be honest, we’re not keen on visiting Mozambique any time soon. We’ve been to both Namibia and Botswana several times now and we’ve never had to deal with corruption in any of those countries so I’ll stick to what we know and love, and rather avoid the mess in Moz.
All in all, we really enjoyed our stay at Kosi Bay. I’d love to visit the region again sometime as I would love to visit some of the other beaches as well. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a relaxed and rustic holiday.