Gia (11) and Indi (10), two of Portfolio’s littlest travellers, share their thoughts and impressions from their recent winter road-trip with their folks to Kwa-Zulu Natal. Here’s what they had to say about their visit to Kosi Forest Lodge in gorgeous Kosi Bay...
After a 5-hour drive and many games of “number-plate test match cricket” (dad’s game), we arrived at this beautiful lodge, surrounded by nature in a forest. We were greeted by a very friendly man called Blessing. He gave us orange juice in a fancy glass and told us all about the camp and the exciting activities we would do: forest walks, canoeing, boat trips and snorkelling. It was all so exciting!
We walked through the forest on a sandy path to our room. Our rooms were beautiful tented rooms, raised on wooden decks – natural and very luxurious. The outside shower and bath were under a huge tree - fit for a queen. The rooms are designed to let as much nature in as possible. It was very relaxing, quiet and beautiful. I think nature has healing powers.
The pool was awesome and overlooks a lake. We relaxed on the pool lounges under the trees and watched a hippo, which was about 200m away. The next day we made sure to come back and soak up the sun again. My mom and dad were so relaxed that they both had a little nap.
The food was incredible. My favourite were the kebabs: haloumi cheese with roasted baby tomatoes. I also loved the olives. My parents said the food was outstanding. Every night we had a 3-course meal – the first night on the wooden deck and the second night in a natural boma under a beautiful overhanging tree, both next to a roaring fire. A little bush baby watched us eating from the tree – he was so cute.
Breakfast was a buffet with a hot breakfast too. The just-baked mealie bread was the best bread I have ever tasted. I loved the funky balsamic vinegar and olive oil – a 2-in-1 artistic glass spiral.
The afternoon we arrived, we met Jerome and he took us on a forest walk. He was very friendly and told us all about the Thonga people and all the things they do in the forest, like collecting honey from bees, berries from trees, and using Raffia Palm to make boats and houses. We searched for the Palm Nut vulture without luck this time. I love the way the Thonga people always help each other to move houses and catch fish. They are a real community.
We saw lots of beautiful indigenous trees and learnt about different plants. One interesting tree had an unusual fruit, nicknamed “monkey apples”, and another tree has “monkey oranges”. It was fun to try and guess which tree had oranges or apples. My mom always got it horribly wrong.
Next morning after a delicious breakfast we met George and Thulani, who took us canoeing. It was exquisite. Gia loved seeing the reflection of the trees in the water. The lake was full of reflections and beautiful water-lilies. I was hoping to see crocodiles, but I was also quite scared of them.
After canoeing, we went on a boat trip with George. We saw seven hippos clumped together, loads of fish traps built by the Thonga people and quite a few African fish eagles. We even snorkelled in one of the safe channels (it was safe because it’s a crocodile free area). We learnt that the hippos that get irritated with boats are the male hippos and the females tend rather just to relax. Learning about the fish traps showed us how clever the Thonga people are. The fish follow the wooden fence line and the heart-shaped fence confuses them. Once they swim into the trap they can’t get out again.
We beached the boat and walked over the dunes to a very wild and beautiful beach. My mom and dad went for a swim in the wild sea, and George taught us a new game, called ‘dogs chase bunny’ – it’s a bit like noughts and crosses but way more fun. We enjoyed a picnic lunch on the beach, with pasta, chicken, salad and pastries. It was yum. What an awesome boat trip.
One of the best things about Kosi Forest Lodge was the amazing people and guides we met. We really felt like family and were treated so well.
Gia loved: the boat trip, eating at the boma around the fire, forest walks and swimming in the pool.
Indi loved: the canoeing, the awesome food and all the incredibly friendly people.
A fantastic ecotourism experience. On the forest walk the guides amazed us with their local knowledge of plants and trees, and how they are used to cure various ailments. Explore the vast lake system in canoes, and learn about Thonga culture on a boat trip – the fish traps are ingenious. Another highlight was the open-air bath and shower in a reed boma. During dinner beneath the stars and overhanging trees, we were paid a visit by a bush baby.