About Giant Raffia Forest

Kosi Bay lies in the north-eastern corner of KwaZulu-Natal, almost on the border with Mozambique. It might be called a ‘bay’, but Kosi Bay is, in fact, four interconnected lakes running north to south behind a huge sand dune, and the lagoon of the Siyadla River, which flows into the fourth and last of the Kosi lakes.

Did you know? The forest is best reached as a hike from the stunning Kosi Forest Lodge in Kosi Bay.

Recognised as one of the most pristine and best-preserved lake systems on the Indian Ocean, it is a magical space of crystal clear waters, and channels that feed into and from the lakes that meander gently alongside an uninhabited coastline filled with sand forests and an abundant bird life.

Some describe it as a mini Amazon. The animals are abundant: whales, elephants, leatherback turtles, whalesharks, suni antelope, dolphins, the Pels fishing owl and the palmnut vulture, which lives at the top of raffia palms.

Part of the larger iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Kosi Bay is home to a giant, naturally occurring rafia forest on the banks of the fourth lake called Amanzimyama.

The forest contains huge palms, considered the largest palms in the world. This particular species of raffia palm occurs only between Kosi Bay and 40 km north of Maputo, growing as high as 16 metres with the longest compound pinnate leaves (some are 25 metres in length) in the plant kingdom.

The palms enjoy standing in plenty of water, making the forest a fairly swampy space. The palmnut vultures feed off the fruits of the tree, supplementing their diets with crabs, fish and locusts.

The nuts, or fruits, of the tree are beyond reach in the highest parts of the tree, where they are covered in razor sharp leaves and spines, blown down by the wind only once they have dried out.

The locals who live and fish on the banks of the Kosi lake system are famous for their fish traps and raffia palm wine. They use the fronds of the palm to make canoes with which they fish and travel on the water of the lakes.

Need to Know

WhereGiant Raffia Forest, iSimangaliso World Heritage Park, Elephant Coast, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

WhenBest during daylight hours

OvernightStay in Kosi Bay Accommodation, KwaZulu Natal

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Kosi Forest Lodge

  • Property TypeGame Lodge
  • Guests25
  • Rooms/Units8
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