By Adrian Rorvik
Durban - Amangwane (Octopus) Camp is a rustic haven about five hours from Durban. Located in the dunes facing the lakes of Kosi Bay, it’s close to the northernmost entrance to the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
The nearest town is Ponta do Ouro just over the Mozambique border, which is a stone’s throw away as you drive to the camp, so you may want to have your passport handy.
The accommodation is basic: reed chalets, each with twin beds and an en-suite toilet and shower. They provide comfortable beds and linen, but you need to take your own toiletries and beach towels. Amangwane relies on solar power for lighting and their well-equipped kitchens (for those going the self-catering route) use gas powered ovens/stove tops and fridges). There are also braai facilities (take your own charcoal), a camp fire and a spacious seating area.
The alfresco dining area and fire circle is the perfect place to relax, unwind and make the most of the warm days and the starry nights. The hammocks are inviting places to laze in what has to be one of the most relaxing environments I’ve visited.
The beach and lakes are the main drawcards, however. Affable camp manager Busi Mahlangu can organise gate permits, but you need a proper 4x4 to negotiate the middlemannetjies and ruts on the sandy track to the beach – or else it’s a 45-minute walk for the daft or hardy. Amangwane offers shuttles to the beach for R100 a head (excluding gate fees).
There are guided kayaking trips from the bay through the pristine lakes. Kosi Bay comprises four lakes linked by a network of channels. The lakes are dotted with ancient fish traps, passed down through generations. Their mangrove swamps are the only ones in South Africa that contain all indigenous mangrove species and also have the naturally occurring Raphia palms.
Kosi Bay is also one of the top 10 snorkelling sites in South Africa. Wade across to the far side of the bay and simply let the tidal current take you past Moray Eels, Lion Fish and a multitude of other equally colourful, but more innocuous, sea life.
The nearest dive site is Ponta do Ouro, or Sodwana Bay (about an hour’s drive south). If you have a boat the nearest lake launching site is from the KZN Wildlife camp on Third Lake.
Nesting season for turtles is between November and February, and guided tours take folk across the lake in the early evening by boat, followed by a walk with trained community guides in search of loggerhead and leatherback turtles.
Nearby Tembe Elephant Reserve is well worth a visit. This small but unique reserve is home to the Big Five, and is especially known for its large elephants. It’s also home to the endangered Suni.
Amangwane is a non-luxury escape for the adventurous, or a place to laze, desert island style.
Note that Kosi Bay is listed as a low-risk malarial area. The camp does not generally have many mosquitoes, being on a hill and away from any standing water. It does not have mosquito nets permanently up, but does have a few available if you are worried.
Rates are from R350 per person (self-catering). Call 076 164 1134 or visit www.kosibay.net - Sunday Tribune