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Turtles on the Elephant Coast


We are offering you an affordable opportunity to join one of our overland tours in collaboration with Out There Overland Travel to the stunning Elephant Coast, situated along the pristine eastern shores of South Africa.

Witness one of the miracles of nature as the loggerhead and leatherback turtle hatchlings make their way to the surf, hours after taking their first breath of air.

Watch in awe as the little hatchlings spend the first moments of their lives in a race for survival. After hatching from their eggs, laid in the sand dunes, they crawl as fast as their little flippers will allow, on a seemingly endless journey to the water’s edge where they will swim off to drift in the ocean currents. They will spend the next few years at sea, not seeing landing again, until they are old enough to produce their own off-spring.

This is an experience of a lifetime.

And what would a visit to the Elephant Coast be without seeing any elephants? Our safari takes us to one of KZN’s most beautiful game reserves which features the Big 5, and more, including the Painted Dog, or Wild Dog as they are more commonly called, and some incredible bird life.

A bush and beach safari with a difference that can’t be missed.

DATE: Monday 25 January – Sunday 31 January 2021*

If these dates don’t suit you, no problem! Contact us for information on alternative available dates.

We leave from Natal Caravans and Marine early in the morning after a thorough briefing and travel north for approximately 330km along the N2 past the town of Mkuze. Shortly after Mkuze, we turn inland and travel the 25km gravel road to the reserve.

You will soon see the beauty of the area that is blessed with the most beautiful rolling hills and the abundant African bushveld. Nestled among the hills is Big 5 country, Somkhanda Community Game Reserve, which is very well managed by the Wildlands Trust on behalf of the local communities.

This reserve has an abundance of biodiversity and is a very special hidden gem in our province. You will not be disappointed by this visit and are bound to enjoy the game and the beauty of the scenery as well as the challenging trails that traverse the various areas of the reserve.

We can arrange a night drive around the park too which will hopefully reveal a whole new world of animals often not seen while driving during the day. With a bit of luck, we may be able to see the resident painted dogs in the park. And for the birding enthusiasts, there are enough bird species there which will keep those bird book pages or bird calls on the apps busy all day.

You will be sad to leave the bush after an interesting few days, but on the other hand you will be excited with the anticipation of what the beach has in store for you. The 175km journey from Somkhanda Community Game Reserve to Utshwayelo Kosi Mouth includes a picturesque drive past the impressive Jozini Dam and then through the vibrant rural town of Jozini before driving across the Jozini Dam wall. And then later along the way, we will pass the well-known Tembe Elephant Park before making our way through the busy town of Manguzi, before reaching our destination just before the Kosi Bay estuary.

This is a beautifully maintained campsite with lodge facilities too. We will have access to all their facilities including the bar, restaurant and pool should you wish to make use of them.

Our days here will be filled with activities that may include a drive to the Kosi Bay mouth, which is a mere 3kms away from the campsite along a picturesque sandy road where you will have to test your off-roading skills again. Here you will see the ancient fish-traps still being used by the Tsonga tribesmen. Depending upon the tides, we can walk across the lagoon to the mouth or we can snorkel in the estuary which is a safe-haven for the many species of juvenile tropical fish found off this coastline.

This is an experience worth doing. There’s also the opportunity to do a boat cruise from one lake to the next, passing through the canals created by the hippos that inhabit these lakes. We could also do a walk, or paddle canoes while visiting the Jurassic-like raffia palm forest.

But let’s not forget our main purpose at this time of the year. In the evening, we will drive to a special location along the shores and then we will walk along the pristine beaches in the hope of seeing the turtles making their way from their nests to the water in the hope of starting their life at sea. Only the fastest and luckiest survive the waiting predators and so we will be compelled to watch without interfering in this spectacle of nature.

On this day, we will pack up and start our journey home, driving through the towns of Mbazwana and then Hlhuhluwe before reaching the N2 and then home. Along the way, we will stop for a few safety stops before reaching our respective homes. No doubt, this time will be spent recalling the interesting times we have enjoyed together having met new friends.

During this overland adventure we will be camping at two different campsites and so therefore you will be required to bring your own camping equipment which may include either a camping trailer, an off-road caravan or a free-standing tent.

To maximise your enjoyment of this experience, it would be suggested that you drive a 4×4 vehicle, as some of the roads will not suit a 2×4 vehicle unless it has diff-lock.

Some of the roads around the Somkhanda Game Reserve and the road from Utshwayelo Campsite will require that you engage 4-wheel drive or, at the very least, the use of diff-lock.

If this overland tour whets your appetite and you are thinking of participating, but don’t own a suitable off-road trailer or caravan, then Gavin Kiloh has the solution for you. Call him now at Natal Caravan and Marine on 031 702 7291.

After having retired fairly recently from 40 years in corporate business, John Gale, owner of Out There Overland Travel, has chosen to follow his true passion and guide people on overland travel and safaris to appreciate the wonders of the natural world.

He has travelled extensively throughout South Sahara Africa, both in business situations and overland, including having driven to East Africa overland, and extensively throughout Southern Africa. He, therefore, has a very good appreciation of what needs to be done to enjoy an overland adventure.

John is a registered guide with the Department of Tourism and has a FGASA Nature Guiding qualification and is currently studying additional FGASA courses, one of which is a Coastal Marine Guiding course which would be relevant for this trip, so as to provide additional value-added guiding experiences for the benefit of his clients.

Sitting around a campfire quietly and listening to the sounds of the bush or simply enjoying a chat while endeavouring to resolve the world’s challenges are some of his most enjoyable occasions.

• This overland tour will be governed by a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 6 vehicles and caravans / trailers per group.
• Costs have been calculated on the basis of 2 people per vehicle. Should there be more people per vehicle, the Turtle Tour guided trip will need to be added to the cost.
• A non-refundable 50% deposit of R3 500 will secure your booking.
• 15 days prior to the departure date, the balance of the tour cost is to be paid (R3 500).
• In reference to the non-refundable deposit, should the group not include sufficient numbers of participants (fewer than 4 vehicles / trailers), the tour will not take place and the R3 500 deposit will either become applicable to the next available date chosen, or the amount will be refunded in full.
• An indemnity form will be required to be signed prior to departure.
• As nature has its ways of working, whilst every attempt will be made to optimise animal sightings to include the Big 5 and other interesting wildlife in general, including the hatching of the baby turtles, we cannot guarantee that sightings will occur at the times of our tours / trails.

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