Swimming in a lake that’s home to pods of hippo doesn’t sound like a bright idea. But I’m assured by the local guide that the hippos don’t wander to the shallows at this time of day. Assurances aside, the crystal clear waters were enough to allure me to plunge in. At just the right temperature, swimming in one of the four connected lakes in the Kosi area off the KwaZulu Natal north coast, felt like the ideal way to cool off in the summer heat.
Flamingos, cormorants and kingfishers strutted their stuff and hippo’s peeped at us as we cruised the lakes and channels, passing age old fishing traps. Although part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (a world heritage site), sustainable living is practiced, where the local community are allowed to fish and collect other natural resources (such as reeds for thatching homes), all within prescribed limits. For the large part there is a peaceful co-existence, but a lot needs to be done about educating communities about the environment.
Adorning the lakeside are Raffia palm forests, creating a coolness and alternative respite from the heat. Here tall palms vie for the skies. These Raffias expanded their home range from nearby Mozambique, possibly thanks to passing birdlife spreading the tree’s fruit seeds. Palm nut vultures act as sentinels and rare samango monkeys scurry the forest floor.
It doesn’t take much to fall into the rhythm of relaxation in the Kosi Bay area. But to truly feel the peace, canoe along one of the waterways. Gliding gently on a glassy channel adorned with water lilies opening up to the soft morning light and fish eagles calling out in the distance… how can you not give in to the serenity?
(Read more about Kosi Bay Lodge in my next blog post.)