Kosi Bay Slackpacking Adventure

Discover the interconnectedness and diversity of the lakes and coastline of Kosi Bay on a fully supported slackpacking trail.


Snorkel in a natural aquarium, watch local fishermen spear a mullet in their traditional fishtraps, take a canoe safari up the estuary or haul yourself on a traditional ferry across the freshwater 4th lake, scanning for the endemic palmnut vulture.

Kosi Bay and The Elephant Coast

The Kosi Bay Hike is an escape into one of the most inaccessible and ecologically special parts of South Africa. Kosi Bay, 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. Winding your way from isolated beaches to cool dune forest, through open savannah and wetlands, the hike days vary from 10 – 17km a day. 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 (in Nov – March), snorkelling in a natural aquarium or tasting locally brewed Lala palm wine.

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. Being a ‘slackpacking’ trail, your luggage will be transferred from camp to camp which makes walking along sandy paths a lot easier!

Adventure Highlights

  • Snorkelling in Kosi Bay mouth – a world-class experience.
  • 3 Lakes boat cruise.
  • Visiting & learning about the traditional Tsonga fish traps.
  • The cool quiet of the ancient fern forests.
  • Climbing a 65-metre high dune, and enjoying coastal views across to Mozambique.
  • The rustic charm of the bush and beach camps at which you will overnight.
  • The beautiful Bhanga Nek.
  • In season: opportunity to watch the loggerhead & leatherback turtles came ashore to nest, and the hatchlings make their treacherous journey back to the ocean.
  • Raffia palm forest, rare cycads.
  • Endemic birding such as the Palmnut vulture.
  • Warm Mozambican current makes the ocean inviting all year around.


Route Description

4 Night Itinerary

Arrival Day: Self-drive to Utshwayelo in Kosi Bay. This route is accessible by sedan vehicle and takes approximately 8 hours from Johannesburg and 6 hours from Durban. From this point a 4x4 transfer is provided through to Memela (approx 40min)
Overnight: Memela (Dinner provided)

Hike Day 1: Guided Hike to Black Rock: This is a 13.5km trek via Dog Point. Lunch is provided on the beach with great opportunity to relax or swim and snorkel in the nearby rock pools. Once you're refreshed and rejuvenated it's time to hike back to camp.
Overnight: Memela (Dinner, Breakfast & Lunch on beach trip).

Hike Day 2: This section consists of a 15km hike to Bhanga Nek through open savannah, sand and dune forest. Enjoy a refreshing swim in the ocean, before embarking on the 3 Lakes boat trip which will take you from the 3rd Lake Eastern shore, through the channels to First Lake. At First Lake you will get an opportunity to visit and learn about the traditional fishtraps (a Tsonga fishing technique). After being dropped off on the Western shore of First Lake you will hike up to Utshwayelo – a final 2km of hiking. (Approximate hiking time: 5 hours).
Overnight: Utshwayelo (Dinner, Breakfast & Packed Lunch from Memela).

Hike Day 3: This circular day-hike will take you past Lake Zilonde and finish at Kosi Mouth where you'll get the opportunity to snorkel in one of the most pristine estuarine systems in South Africa (9.5km). From there you'll climb a 65m high dune and enjoy spectacular views over the lakes, the ocean and into Mozambique. From here you'll hike back up to Utshwayelo (2km)
Overnight: Utshwayelo (Dinner, Breakfast & Packed Lunch).

Departure Day: After breakfast you depart for Utshwayelo to collect your vehicle.

Important information

Total Trail Distance (3 Day Hike):
43 km

Approximate Time (per day):
3 – 6 hr hike time.

A local guide is provided on all the hikes – included in package.

Fully Supported:
Overnights in rustically charming bush and beach camps, with luggage transferred between camps and full catering provided.

When to go

If you prepared to make early starts and don’t mind the heat, then this trail can be offered in summer, but from about April – November is more comfortable for hiking. Winters are mild and dry. Humpback whales can be seen off the coast from June to December. November to early March is turtle nesting season and also the best time of year for waders.


You will be accompanied by a guide on all hike days. The area is a part of isiMangilso Park and hippo’s are perhaps the most dangerous of the wildlife that could be encountered.

Health Precautions

Kosi Bay is classified on the maps as a medium risk malaria area. However, the locals will tell you it’s very low risk. Be advised to take the usual precautions against mosquito bites at dawn/dusk such as tabard/insect repellant, wearing long sleeve cotton pants & shirts & the camps do provide mosquito nets.

What to Pack

On this fully supported and catered trail, bedding and meals are provided for, but please bring your own towel. The camps will provide a well stocked cash bar based on your drink preferences. If you have your own snorkel equipment, it is recommended you bring it, otherwise sets can be hired from Utshwayelo camp at R50/day. Don’t forget your birdbook and binoculars too

Details to keep on hand

Active Escapes
Tel: +27 (0) 33 3295259
Mobile: +27 (0)84 2407277
Email: tours@active-escapes.co.za
Website: www.active-escapes.co.za

Getting to there

From Durban, get onto the N2 and head north. Take the exit at Hluhluwe and turn right onto the R22. Drive though the main town and at the last roundabout, take the 1st exit to your left and stay on R22. Follow the road for approximately 1.4km and then turn right onto the R22. Follow the R22 for approximately 120km. At the main roundabout take the 3rd exit (right) and follow the signs to KwaNgwanase/Farazela. Next follow the road till you get to the Mozambican border. Without going through the border, turn right onto the dirt road and follow it all the way to Utshwayelo


Kosi Bay-Slackpacking-Adventure-Rocktail-Bay


Images of the Kosi Bay Slackpacking Adventure







Attractions you'll see along the way