Experience paradise at Kosi Bay

Experience paradise at Kosi Bay

Abstract - Make your way to Kosi Bay and experience why it has been described as the last haven of untouched African paradise.

Tourism KZN
Tourism KZN

Looking for a place to go to unwind with your family and friends, or even a solo vacation? Kosi Bay at iSimangaliso, a rich tapestry of lakes which borders Mozambique, is the ideal holiday destination. Exploring the area is only possible in a 4x4 vehicle.

Kosi Bay has been described as the last haven of untouched African paradise. If you are a lover of nature, then you will be excited to see the numerous bird species, including the iconic African fish eagle, flamingos, and the rare palm nut vulture. Kosi Bay is one of only two places in South Africa where the vultures’ favoured food source, raffia palms, can be found naturally. It is home to over 250 species of birds. Apart from birds, you will also get to see hippos, crocodiles, smaller game such as buck and monkeys, and Humpback whales, which are seasonal offshore visitors.

Fancy some time at the beach? Kosi Bay has the best beaches. It is a wonderland of blue sea, dazzling white beaches, and wetlands. You will also be surrounded by raffia palm forests and mangrove swamps. At Kosi Bay, you will experience four lakes – Lake Sibaya, Lake St Lucia, Maphelane, and Sodwana Bay.  

Lake Sibaya

Amazing features at Lake Sibaya, which is tucked against forested coastal dunes, parallel to iSimangaliso’s coastline, include:  

-        Lake Sibaya is the largest of its type (an estimated 7 750ha).

-        It has been listed as a RAMSAR Wetland of International Importance.

-        The lake is home to KwaZulu-Natal’s second largest population of hippo.

-        Lake Sibaya is classified as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife SA. It is home to diverse avifauna, including locally rare species and range-restricted species. A total of 279 bird species have been recorded at Lake Sibaya, 62 of which are closely associated with the Lake through their breeding, feeding or roosting habits.

-        Marine canyons offshore of Lake Sibaya and the presence of relict estuarine fauna suggest that the Lake was previously connected to the sea by a large river.

-        Although few species occur in large numbers, the Lake occasionally supports more than 20,000 waterfowl, some of which are at the southern limit of their distribution.

-        Surface water in the surrounding coastal plain often disappears completely during dry spells, making it the only source of permanent water for local fauna.

-        The Lake supports a diverse array of zooplankton, 15 species of aquatic and 43 species of terrestrial molluscs, as well as flora and fauna unique to South Africa.

-        Its pristine, crystal clear waters fringed by pure white sand are fed entirely by run-off from the high vegetated dunes reaching 165m.

-        No rivers flow in or out of Lake Sibaya.

Lake St Lucia

Lake St Lucia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area is one of the most abundant, naturally-endowed, and beautiful pieces of real estate on earth.

If the iSimangaliso Wetland Park is a miracle (which ‘iSimangaliso’ translates to from the Zulu), then the Lake is the heart that sustains that miracle.

Apart from being the focal point of the UNESCO World Heritage Listing, it has been a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance since 1986.

In size, the lake is 80km long and 23km at its widest point.

The lake is home to more than 50% of all water birds in KwaZulu-Natal and they feed, roost, and nest in this Estuary. It also has more than 2,180 species of flowering plants and is home to many species of antelope, such as waterbuck, reedbuck, kudu, nyala, impala, and duiker.

Of the 155 fish species that have been recorded in the Lake St Lucia estuarine system, 71 species use Lake St Lucia as a nursery area – and at least 24 of these are important in marine line fisheries.


At 183m, Maphelane is South Africa’s highest vegetated dune, and the hike to the viewpoint is well worth the breathtaking views of the ocean and river mouth.

Maphelane sits at the south end of the Lake St Lucia Estuary basin on the shores of the uMfolozi River, at the base of the soaring Maphelane dune. It is a pristine patch of coastal forest with a vibrant bird population of over 200. Some of the birds found in the area include - sea birds, water fowl, and forest birds.

Maphelane is an easy walk along the beach from the hub of St Lucia town – unless the river mouth is open to the sea, when the river crossing should not be attempted due to the presence of crocodiles and hippo.

Sodwana Bay

Sodwana Bay is the place to go to for a fun family outing. It is packed with activities.

With its sea, surf, and sun, Sodwana Bay is a sprawling open-air, all-year-round activity destination. It is one of the top ten dive destinations in the world.

The coral reefs contain over 1,200 species of fish, as well as a variety of underwater seascapes and marine flora and fauna. It is also home to the Coelacanth, which was discovered in the deep Jesser Canyon offshore from Sodwana Bay in 2000.

Your family can also experience the Big 5. This is because Sodwana Bay is a short drive from the Big 5 uMkhuze section of iSimangaliso – which makes this rare combination of eco-systems home to the Big 7, as humpback whales and whale sharks join lion, rhino, elephant, leopard, and buffalo in calling the area home.

For more KZN Travels articles read below:

  1. Six activities you can enjoy while staying at Isibindi Kosi Forest Lodge
  2. IsiMangaliso Wetland Park - Cape Vidal: The destination for unlimited fun
  3. See the Big 5 in action at Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park
  4. At Heritage House' – KZN’s top safari destination
  5. Experience Africa’s special wonders at KZN’s Jozini

Show's Stories