Learn more about Tembe Elephant Park, the breathtaking surroundings of the Thonga land and the Tembe people.

If you’ve travelled along the Garden Route and wondered where stereotypical Africa was, the answer is right here, in the northern reaches of the Elephant Coast – traditionally known as Maputaland – with its tight patchwork of wilderness and. In this area hemmed in by Swaziland and Mozambique, traditional life continues: for example, there is one "nyanga" (traditional healer) for every 550 people, compared with one Western-style doctor to 18,000 people. Access can be difficult; St Lucia, Sodwana Bay and Kwa-Ngwanase are both reachable via tarred roads from the N2, but you’ll still need a 4WD vehicle to visit any of the other idyllic spots along the Elephant Coast’s 200km of virtually uninterrupted beachfront.

Also known as Maputaland, the extreme northeast section of the Elephant Coast is the remotest tract of South Africa, mostly accessible only along dirt roads that work their tortuous way to the coast. The quickest way of reaching this area is from Hluhluwe village, the R22, strikes north for some 150km, passing Sodwana Bay and terminating near Kosi Bay and the Mozambique border. Another road, 11km north of Mkhuze village, snakes north and then east for 133km, eventually connecting with the R22 about 40km south of Kosi Bay. This road gives access to the border village of Ingwavuma, home to a Zulu festival and the base for some excellent hikes, as well as the Ndumo Game Reserve and Tembe Elephant Park, both reserves reaching down from the Mozambique border.


The northern Part of Elephant Coast 

  • Maputaland is in the northern part of South Africa, in KwaZulu-Natal Province, tucked in between Swaziland, Mozambique, and the endless white beaches of the warm Indian Ocean coast. It is a vast remote and magical place of shimmering lakes, forests, bush and pristine seashore.

  • Kosi Bay is the main town in this region. It is approximately 300km from Richards Bay, 250km from St. Lucia, 200km from Hluhluwe and 80km from Sodwana.

  • Most guests think they will encounter an idyllic beach town. There is no bay in Kosi Bay -- it is a misnomer -- so local residents refer to the town as Kosi and not Kosi Bay. The town is 25km away from the coastline, and to get to the coast you need a 4X4 vehicle. You can book into a place that will take you in their 4X4 vehicle on excursions.

  • Kosi town is a vibrant colourful African village and the surroundings (because it is so remote and difficult to reach) are an undiscovered paradise that offers diverse and some unique tourism activities and attractions in a fabulous subtropical climate.

  • Kosi has grown tremendously since 2008 and you can shop for most things here.


  • Kosi Bay, Manguzi, eManguzi, KwaNgwanase are all different names for the same place. Manguzi is the community in which the town is settled and KwaNgwanase is the district name.

  • The name Kosi is said to be derived from the word Nkosi which means king. Ngwanase is the name for the Thonga King who fled from the Portugese Colonists in Mozambique. The original king was Mabhudu which the Portugese and English colonists mispronounced and misspelled respectively to Maputo and Maputa. The region is still known as Maputaland.

  • The region is also known as Thonga Tembe Land. Historically this region was the orphan of South Africa and none of the previous governments made any effort to develop this region. Maputaland was/is completely self-governed by the Thonga people. The current king is Mabhudu Israel Tembe. Even today the Tembe Tribal Authority retains power and oversees everything regarding everyday life.

  • The fact that the region has a King and chiefs, local government, various other state bodies who have interests here and that large parts of Maputaland are national borders, world heritage area, state forest land, marine sanctuary and conservation areas do not make it easier to manage and purposefully develop Maputaland.

  • In Maputaland first world dreams are conflicting with third world tranquility and existence more than anywhere else. The stage was set when the Portugese and English colonists clashed in these regions during 1875 and asked the French prime Minister to arbitrate. With typical heavy handedness he drew a line on a map that divided the Thonga tribe in two.