“A superbly crafted eco-lodge at the heart of the Kosi Bay Nature Reserve, close to the Indian Ocean and the enchanting waterways of the iSimangaliso Wetlands”
The lodge, hidden amid sand forest at the edge of Kosi Lake, is perfectly located for exploring the wetlands and forests of the park by launch, canoe or on foot. The main building of this decked, thatched and reed-lined lodge wraps round a huge Zulu podberry tree and from here a series of sandy pathways snake through the forest to the 8 guest huts, each a good distance from the next to guarantee privacy. Beyond the huts is a small pool and a sun deck overlooking the lake; from here you can watch wallowing hippos, fish eagles diving for their catch, and amazing sunrises and sunsets.
- The lodge has been sensitively integrated with its natural environment and fully deserves its eco-lodge status
- You’re close to some of South Africa’s most beautiful beaches, which remain deserted for most of the year
- Canoeing through the narrow channels of the lake system is a uniquely peaceful wildlife experience
- The unpopulated iSimangaliso Wetland Park comprises 328,000 hectares and boasts 30,000 year old sand dunes covered in ancient forest; there are 640 species of bird, plus hippos and turtles
- There’s minimal electricity, just a generator and solar panels for items like phone chargers. But the camp looks magical at night lit by oil lamps – it adds to the whole bush experience
- The guides at Kosi are exceptionally friendly, but aren’t trained biologists. So read up on the flora and fauna of Kosi Park and the iSimangaliso Wetlands before you get there
- The lodge is a 3 hour drive from the nearest airport at Richard’s Bay, though you can also fly to Manguzi airstrip, just 9km away
- WiFi is very limited - this is not the place for those who need easy web access
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Luxury Lodge
- All meals included
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
There are 8 guest huts - 2 of which can be linked to make a family unit - hidden away amongst the sand forest. They have tented sides, thatched roofs and attractive dark-wood decking. Although Kosi Bay is a low-risk malaria area, the beds have mosquito nets, as well as colourful cotton bedspreads and really comfortable mattresses. At the far end of each hut, screened behind reed-covered panelling, is a dressing room with a sink, a wardrobe and a toilet which gives access to the sand-floored boma bathroom, open to the stars and overhung by branches. A bath here will become a treasured Kosi memory.
Although basic, we loved the combination of wood and canvas and the authentic bush feel of the huts. And they really come into their own at night when you can sit out on your deck, or laze in your hammock, gazing at the night sky. The absence of electric lighting means there is little light pollution; the night skies at Kosi are unbelievable.
- Coffee / tea making
- Extra beds
- Mosquito net
The day at Kosi begins at around 7am when a thermos of hot water - you have a selection of teas and coffee in your hut - is delivered to your deck. Breakfast follows at around 8am; a large buffet laid up beneath the huge Zulu podberry tree at the main lodge. There are cheeses, cold meats, cereals, homemade muffins and croissants, boxed fruit juices, and a cooked breakfast order is taken at your table by one of Kosi Lodge’s ever-smiling staff.
Unless you’re here for several days the chances are that your lunch will be a picnic, perhaps overlooking the Indian ocean or on the banks of the lake. The food is adequate rather than memorable: a few nibbles, followed by a selection of salads - maybe potato or chicken mayonnaise, water melon and goat’s cheese, or chopped beetroot - and cold meats and cheeses, accompanied by corn bread baked that morning back at the lodge.
But if the lunches don’t exactly sing, the dinners here are really special. There’s a cosy thatched bar to one side of the dining area where you soon get chummy with your fellow guests, and a fire is lit on the boma, sending shadows dancing across the forest canopy. You eat on the main deck or follow a lamp-lit path which winds through the forest to a small clearing, where a circle of tables have been set up under the Albizia trees. A set menu is served every night: starters tend to be soups or salads, and being in the bush yet close to the sea, you may be treated to barbecued fish or meat from the braai. There’s a small selection of South African wines, beers and soft drinks.
- All meals included
- Coffee / tea making
- Vegetarian menu
- Hike through the Raffia Palm Forest, then canoe along shaded water channels past crocodiles, water monitors, otters and myriad plant and birdlife - this is included in the rates
- Take a day excursion by jeep to Kosi Mouth, where you can snorkel and walk for miles along a deserted beach towards the Mozambique border
- Between June and September, you'll be able to watch humpback and southern right whales migrate northwards along the coast - it takes 1 hour to reach the coast
- Explore the Kosi lake system by motor launch, stopping to swim, birdwatch and to see traditional Thonga fish traps
- From mid-November through to mid-January, take a night excursion to see leatherback and loggerhead turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs. These trips are available every night
- Drive to the Tembe National Elephant Park, just 1 hour from the lodge, and watch these amazing pachyderms, plus other wildlife, from the safety of a secluded hide
- The national park has the Big 7: lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, rhinoceros, whales and dolphins - talk to staff about arranging a safari trip
- Follow a marked game path straight out from the lodge, stopping to birdwatch from the hide and to hippo-watch at the lakeside
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Horse riding
- Plantlife / flora
- Private guided tours
- Whale watching
The low risk of malaria means that the Kosi Bay Nature Reserve is a popular destination for families with children. They’d get good mileage out of the beach, the wildlife, the small swimming pool and the canoe trips along the waterways.
Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
There is a family suite, made up of 2 interconnecting rooms, which can sleep up to 5 people.
Kosi Forest Lodge is located in the Kosi Bay Nature Reserve, part of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, now internationally recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The reserve is on the wild and pristine Elephant Coast of South Africa in KwaZulu-Natal - the Eastern coastline which is bordered to the north by Mozambique.
A visit to the park could easily be combined with a trip to Lesotho and/or Swaziland.
Richards Bay (250km / 4-hour drive) is the closest airport - reachable via scheduled flights from Johannesburg (flight duration 1 hour 15 minutes). From Richards Bay, you can take a 30-minute charter flight to Manguzi airstrip (min 2 pax / luggage allowance 12kg).
Alternatively, take a charter flight from Johannesburg to Phinda Airstrip (1 hour 15 minutes) followed by a Zumat flight to the lodge airstrip at Manguzi (30 minutes / luggage allowance 20kg). From the airstrip it's 25 minutes to the lodge. The lodge can organise some domestic flights.
You can self-drive here - see our car rental recommendations. Alternatively road transfers can be arranged from Richards Bay, Durban and Phinda, which is about 2 hours south of Kosi. If you are not driving in a 4x4 you will be collected in Manguzi or Kosi Bay at either 12noon or 4pm. If you are staying at other lodges, transfers can be arranged.
Detailed directions will be provided when you book through i-escape.
More on getting to South Africa and getting around.
- Richards Bay 9.0 km RCB
- Johannesburg Oliver Reginald Tambo International 500.0 km JNB
- Beach 20.0 km
- Shops 250.0 km
- Restaurant 250.0 km