Tucked away in the north-eastern corner of the coastal forest section of iSimangaliso, lies the secluded Rocktail Bay. You can drive along seemingly endless sandy, burnt-orange tracks, encountering only bovine pedestrians. You’ll find Rocktail Bay hidden beyond the thick vegetation.
Here are a few must-do activities to add to your itinerary at Rocktail Bay:
Snorkel at Lala Nek
Meaning “a place to rest”, Lala Nek brings new meaning to the idea of solace. No more than five vehicles are permitted to park in this part of iSimangaliso, so you’re likely to have this warm-water beach almost entirely to yourself.
Take snorkels and goggles so you can enjoy the abundant sea life you’ll find just off the beach. Butterfly fish, moray eels and crayfish hug the reef and, if you’re lucky, you might also spot a pod of dolphins.
If you visit Bhanga Nek in the Kosi Bay section of iSimangaliso between October and March, you could see endangered loggerhead and leatherback turtles venturing ashore to lay their eggs. Community guides lead walking tours along the shores at night to search for turtles. They also enforce the careful measures that must be taken when approaching these vulnerable creatures. For this reason, these tours are not ideal for children under the age of five.
Dive within the pristine, protected waters of this World Heritage Site – the first in South Africa – and, depending on the time of year you visit, you could see ragged tooth sharks, whale sharks, humpback whales, dolphins, loggerhead and leatherback turtles.
This is the ideal spot to introduce young divers to the wonders of the underwater world, and there are 95 identified species of hard and soft corals, sponges and other invertebrates in these waters.
Take a game drive
You can’t visit northern KZN without a sunset game drive to the largest freshwater lake in South Africa – Lake Sibiya. Passing Mabibi village, lush plantations and vast numbers of nguni cattle, you’ll arrive at what seems to be a forgotten paradise – Lake Sibaya. But be warned: however appealing a dip in these blue waters may seem, the lake is home to hippos and crocodiles, making this sundowner spot best for adults only.
WHERE TO STAY
Rocktail Camp Luxury tented chalets nestled in white pear and milkwood forests, 800m from the beach with an in-house dive centre. Rocktail specialises in activities for children, including forest walks to search for scorpions, spiders and other creepy-crawlies.
Thonga Beach Lodge also offers fully catered, “toes-in-the-sand” luxury, child-friendly accommodation, while rustic camp sites are available at Mabibi campsite (www.mabibicampsite.co.za).