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4 & 5 Night Slackpacking Trails from Kosi Mouth to Mabibi, Maputaland

If you wish to combine the best of the Kosi lakes and Maputaland's finest beaches, then consider the Kosi to Mabibi 'Turtle Tracks' Trails.

All hike options start out at Kosi Beach camp, and thereafter, hikers can chose from a combination of accommodation options to best suite their pockets and distance aspirations.

At the high-end, we have connected the ?exclusive? lodgings of Kosi Forest Lodge and Thonga to one another. Guests hike from lodge to lodge with a community guide, and enjoy experiences such as ocean safaris, snorkeling and kayaking.

For those wanting to walk the route on more of a budget, one can remove the night at Thonga at the end with two nights spent at Gugulisizwe camp (Lala Nek) or potentially finish at Mabibi campsite.

Trail Description

Starting out close to the Mozambican border, the route meanders along the top of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising 3280km2 of natural ecosystems. After snorkeling between colourful sealife in the crystalline ?aquarium? of Kosi Mouth, hikers leave Kosi Bay to walk through coastal savannah with a view of the giant fish traps curling far below like an ancient tribal tattoo. The hills are a mixture of water berry trees, monkey apples with their bright green cricket ball sized fruits and giant flat crown acacias.

After a boat trip across Third Lake, hikers are dropped at Bhanga Nek and from here it?s an adventurous walk along sandy pathways, dropping in and out of rural villages, pockets of indigenous bushveld, and small cultivated gardens before the landscape changes once again. The giant Raffia Palms that the area is famous for tower overhead, and views of the tannin coloured Fourth Lake (Amanzamnyama) are visible from the dense forest.

Day two and three of walking moves guests from the mysterious inland pathways of the lake systems to the beautiful wide open beaches further south. Beaches such as Black Rock and Lala Nek are picture-book wedges of white sand, edged by snorkeling paradise.


Trip Duration Standard Hikes: 4 Nights / 3 Hike days
Shorter & customised hike options also available.
Daily Distances Distances will vary depending on route selection, but STD 4 Day Trail:
Day 1: 17 km (7hr hike time)   Day 2: 12 / 7km  (3-5 hr hike time)
Day 3: 14/9 km   (4-5hr hike time) 
Trail Grading  
Physical Fitness Grade 3: little ascent and descent, but soft sand and beach camber can makes it harder-going in places.
Technicality Grade 1: no scrambling or sheer sections
Trail Terrain Coastal Trail passing through diverse ecosystems ? open savannah, wetlands, coastal dune & fern forests, shallow lake crossings, beach.
Accommodation Safari Style Tented Camps and luxury bush and beach camps.
* Extra nights can be spent at any of the trail camps
Logistic Support This is a fully-catered & guided hike with luggage transfers, vehicle back-up, 3 Lakes boat-trip, snorkeling and end-point transfers all 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 Mouth, Lala Nek and Mabibi. Golden miles of undeveloped beaches. Barefoot luxury.
Other Activities Mokoro-style canoe trip on the Siyadla River going into protected 4th lake; Turtle tours in season (Nov ? Mar). Excellent birding & fishing; Ocean swimming; Deep sea fishing trips; Snorkelling; lake sibaya kayaking.
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.
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. Availabilty at Thonga Beach Lodge, being only 12 beds and exclusive, can be difficult.
Group Size Minimum 2 persons - preferred maximum per guide 12 persons
Price / PP Price depends on package choice & group size, but indicative - Opt A & B, based on a group of 6-8 persons:
R8200 - R12 500/per person/ sharing
Price Includes
    OPTION A PRICE - includes:
  • 4 Nights Accommodation: Beach Camp, Kosi Forest Lodge, Gugulisizwe, Thonga Beach Lodge
  • Gourmet Meals: from dinner on arrival night to breakfast on departure day
  • Hiking Guide for all hike days
  • Luggage Transfers between camps
  • 4x4 Support and Back-Up
  • 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.
  • Snorkeling, kayaking, sundowners
Optional Extra Activities
** Please note that these activities prices are subject to change.
Prices Quoted /PP
  • Turtle Tours (season Nov ? Mar): R600 - R700/pp

View Turtle Tracks 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.
beach deck at Isibindi's Thonga Beach Lodge
communal lounge at Gugulisizwe camp, Lala Nek