Nothern KZN bushcamps





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  1. #1
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    Default Nothern KZN bushcamps

    Hi All,

    I'm thinking of doing a tour of Nothern KZN bushcamps. I've only camped at Sodwana and Cape Vidal (many years ago) in this area.

    I'm considering these, I'd appreciate some feedback from folks in the area (or alternative suggestions) please;
    1. Bivane dam (Soetdoring / Rooi Ivoor bushcamps)
    2. Ithala Game Reserve (Doornkraal camp)
    3. Somkhanda Game Reserve (Scotia camp)
    4. Bonamanzi Game Reserve (campsites 17 / 18 )
    5. Mabibi Beach Camp
    6. Bhanga Nek

    Then, can anyone recommend a half-way stop between JHB and Bivane dam as well please? The only one I have on my map is Three Provinces 4x4; http://bit.ly/2AhQQah

    Thanks!
    Christoff

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    Default Re: Nothern KZN bushcamps

    Quote Originally Posted by Christoff View Post
    Hi All,

    I'm thinking of doing a tour of Nothern KZN bushcamps. I've only camped at Sodwana and Cape Vidal (many years ago) in this area.

    I'm considering these, I'd appreciate some feedback from folks in the area (or alternative suggestions) please;
    1. Bivane dam (Soetdoring / Rooi Ivoor bushcamps)
    2. Ithala Game Reserve (Doornkraal camp)
    3. Somkhanda Game Reserve (Scotia camp)
    4. Bonamanzi Game Reserve (campsites 17 / 18 )
    5. Mabibi Beach Camp
    6. Bhanga Nek

    Then, can anyone recommend a half-way stop between JHB and Bivane dam as well please? The only one I have on my map is Three Provinces 4x4; http://bit.ly/2AhQQah

    Thanks!
    Christoff
    Hi Chrsitoff

    1. Bivane dam is very nice. Haven't camped there myself but the campsites are very clean and neat. Fishing in the dam is good at the right time of the year. There's also a nice 4x4 trail
    2. Doornkraal is rustic but people love it. It isn't fenced so ellies and other game move through the campsite. Come say hello when you're here..
    3. Haven't been to the Somkhanda campsite, but it is also a beautiful game reserve and I think they have the big 5 plus wild dogs now.

    Can't really comment on the rest, haven't been there in ages.
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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Nothern KZN bushcamps

    I camped at Mabibi from 11 to 14 April 2019. Heard all kinds of rumours about safety. Spoke to Michell at reservations. She denied any such issues. We (2 vehicles) traveled that area extensively and nowhere did we experience any antagonism or threat. In fact, everywhere people would move out of the road when they see a vehicle approaching and greet friendly.

    The road from Mbazwane to Mabibi (past Lake Sibaya) is reasonable and quite beautiful. At some places it is a bit bumpy, so go slow if you are pulling a trailer. It takes about 60 - 75 minutes to do the 30km. The long way round from Mbazwane on the R22 via the Cashewnut Stall is much further, but travels faster for most part. Later on it also turns in to a 2-spoor.

    Mabibi is well looked after. No power. No drinking water, but good for showering and washing. Wood and grass mats, etc. can be bought just outside the gate. We stayed at campsites 3 and 4. Big enough for one trailer tent setup, definitely not two. There is an interlinking passage between the two, which worked quite nice for the two couples. Enough privacy. The preferred campsites seem to be 5 and 6, but I would probably stay at 4 again. If you have solar panels, make sure you have long cables, 20m plus, depending on which site you chose. Had no mosquitoes. Sandflees! My wife got bitten quite severely, somehow got into her sleeping bag, but I escaped. Had Peaceful Sleep on me at all times of the day.

    We also travelled up past Black Rock to Bhanga Neck. That peace of road is not often used by vehicles and it becomes quite narrow between the bushes sometimes. Your vehicle will get scratched. Sand is not really an issue, unless you want to travel from north to south. Long deepsand hills. Recommend tyre pressure is 1.8 bar (Mabibi documentation) and works fine. Quite entertaining to drive. Boring for the co-driver.

    Do spend a day or at least a morning at Black Rock. No facilities/shops though. You can skip Lala Nek and Rock Tail Bay beaches if you are pressed for time. Beautiful, but just plain beaches.

    Bhanga Nek Campsite seemed neglected and I would not camp there. There are some reed chalets close by which might be an option. From there, traveling southwest and then northwest, we joined the R22 just below Kosibay (Manguzi), and back to Mabibi.

    We left the permit office at Rocktail Bay Camping site at about 10:00 and arrived back at Mabibi about 16:30. Long day.

    We also camped at Kosibay Lake (KZN Nature) for 3 nights. Great camping site. If you have a boat, sites 1 to 6 is where you want to be. Noisy though, many people on a site. If not, around campsite 12/13 is better and quieter and closer to the ablutions. Monkey nuisance. Close up. Very few mosquitoes. Close to Kosi mouth from there. Permit required, either at the camp office or at the lodge at the Kosi mouth entrance gate.

    The T4A maps were fine, but not every road on the map is still in existence. Make sure there are at least 2 vehicles, in case of breakdown, etc. The area is very sparsely populated. Make sure you are home before sunset.

    In Kosibay, stuff got stolen from my vehicle. Not sure whether I neglected to lock or was jammed. If you're stupid you must suffer, I suppose. I was lucky, because only my pack of beer, even the loose cans inside the fridge, water and milk were stolen. We must have disturbed the culprit, because all my electronics were still there, but could see that there were attempts to remove them.

    Hope some people find this useful.

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  6. #4
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    Default Re: Nothern KZN bushcamps

    Thanks for the info gents, very useful!

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    Default Re: Nothern KZN bushcamps

    Quote Originally Posted by JohanL512 View Post
    Make sure there are at least 2 vehicles, in case of breakdown, etc. The area is very sparsely populated.
    Is this the case up to Mabibi as well? I'm traveling by myself.

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    Default Re: Nothern KZN bushcamps

    Quote Originally Posted by Christoff View Post
    Is this the case up to Mabibi as well? I'm traveling by myself.
    Hi Christoff. I have camped at Mabibi a couple of times. Awesome place. In my opinion traveling by yourself, should not be a problem but I would use the D1849 past Costal Cashews.

    I agree with JohanL regarding the 2 vehicles if using the Lake Route through the Baya gate, but the D1849 should be OK by yourself. There is more traffic (forestry / lodge and local) along the route.

    The lake route is not hugely challenging, but if you do happen to get bogged down in the sand then getting help could be problematic. In addition, you can only really get close to the lake from the Mabibi end as most of the other accesses have been closed off. The lodge accesses the lake from the Mabibi side.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by Rookie; 2019/04/24 at 01:40 PM. Reason: edit
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    Default Re: Nothern KZN bushcamps

    Hi Christof

    We just returned from Pongola Nature reserve (not Pongola game reserve) and Ndumo nature reserve, Pongola's camping has been closed fro some reason. Ndumo is very nice although not bushcamping your your style. Nice new ablutions and epic birding the guides are really good! R160 pp per night and only 14 or so campsites, only 4 sites were occupied so nice and quiet.
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    Default Re: Nothern KZN bushcamps

    Quote Originally Posted by Christoff View Post
    Is this the case up to Mabibi as well? I'm traveling by myself.
    This very much depends on 'yourself' being solo entirely? -and then how well equipped, practiced and confident you are....
    Know how to drive very soft, very deep sand, have a spade, compressor/tyre stuff on hand-

    I would myself do the drive to Mabibi solo quite confidently on a good day8) -but I am fairly familiar with the whole Maputaland area and Lake Sibayi, having built a small lodge there some 20 years ago.

    I last stayed at Mabibi some 4 years ago with my young daughter, and, with sensible precautions, all was good and thoroughly enjoyable -we did thwart some leopard-crawling youngsters trying to nick things once at the Sibaya eastern-shore swimming spot -but, as everywhere one travels , you need situational awareness.8)

    At the camp entrance get a helper for your camp- great to have someone do some chores, gut your fish, and keep the monkeys away They have some useful things on sale too.

    Doornkraal is a magic campsite!8)
    Saw our biggest Leopard there ever- feasting on a kill over 2 days in clear sight!8)

    Sounds a great trip_Enjoy8)

    ( Don't miss Tembe-they have huge tuskers and recently introduced lions -cannot camp there, but Ndumo/ some others within day-drive reach)
    Last edited by Patrick L; 2019/04/24 at 06:17 PM.
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    Default Re: Nothern KZN bushcamps

    Quote Originally Posted by Christoff View Post
    Hi All,


    4. Bonamanzi Game Reserve (campsites 17 / 18 )

    Then, can anyone recommend a half-way stop between JHB and Bivane dam as well please? The only one I have on my map is Three Provinces 4x4; http://bit.ly/2AhQQah

    Thanks!
    Christoff
    We have stayed at Bonamanzi at site 17 last year and really enjoyed it.

    Stands are quite spacious with nice shade and we loved the private ablution and small kitchen.
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    Default Re: Nothern KZN bushcamps

    Thanks again for all the info folks, much appreciated!

    Last one, does anyone know of a decent camping spot near Volksrust / Newcastle? I'm looking for something in between JHB and Bivane dam. Chelmsford Sandford / Leokop campsites maybe?

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    Default Re: Nothern KZN bushcamps

    Quote Originally Posted by Christoff View Post
    Thanks again for all the info folks, much appreciated!

    Last one, does anyone know of a decent camping spot near Volksrust / Newcastle? I'm looking for something in between JHB and Bivane dam. Chelmsford Sandford / Leokop campsites maybe?
    Why don't you try wakkerstroom or that too far off? We camped at birdlifesa's campsite and got a few good birds too at the hides
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  19. #12
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    Default Re: Nothern KZN bushcamps

    Quote Originally Posted by Gifmonster View Post
    Why don't you try wakkerstroom or that too far off? We camped at birdlifesa's campsite and got a few good birds too at the hides
    Cool thanks, will have a look

  20. #13
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    Default Re: Nothern KZN bushcamps

    Definitely take a look at Kosi Bay (as mentioned above). Great little place.

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    Default Re: Nothern KZN bushcamps

    Hi Christoff,

    Not sure how long your planned trip is but if you have a few days spare Bonamanzi ( sites 17/18 ) would be great to add in for a night or two. Nice and close to Hluhluwe/Imfolozi Park but then really great to also just 'sit innie bos' and be! Have attached a pic to help with the feel of the sites.

    Am very keen to hear if you get to any of the Bivane camps and maybe also Somkhanda as these have also been on my radar for a while now.

    Cheers
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    Default Re: Nothern KZN bushcamps

    Quote Originally Posted by Christoff View Post
    Thanks again for all the info folks, much appreciated!

    Last one, does anyone know of a decent camping spot near Volksrust / Newcastle? I'm looking for something in between JHB and Bivane dam. Chelmsford Sandford / Leokop campsites maybe?
    Wagendrift Nature Reserve?

    If you into Elies, here is a must: Thembe Nature Reserve, Maputaland. You will see the biggest chunks of Ivory still alive today.

    Only 10 vehicles a day permitted.

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    Default Re: Nothern KZN bushcamps

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    Default Re: Nothern KZN bushcamps

    Hi Christoff,

    Did you make it to Bivane dam (Soetdoring / Rooi Ivoor bushcamps)? Thinking of heading there in December and would be great to hear your feedback.

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    Default Re: Nothern KZN bushcamps

    Just be aware, the Hilux Hijack gang has started up again.

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    Default Re: Nothern KZN bushcamps

    Quote Originally Posted by jelo View Post
    Just be aware, the Hilux Hijack gang has started up again.

    https://maroelamedia.co.za/nuus/sa-n...zxiQESv38fB4XI
    This is horrific and so tragic, the violence of this gang will escalate out of control until the whole syndicate is behind bars or dead. SAP must collaborate with Mozambique on this, but I wouldn't be surprised if some corrupt cops operate on both sides... Condolences to the family of Mr. Gert Pretorius!
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    Default Re: Nothern KZN bushcamps

    Stayed at Mabibi in December 2017. Very enjoyable, no safety concerns at all. Can't remember if we had campsite number 2 or number 3.

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    From Mabibi followed the coastal route to Bhanga Nek. Again absolutely no security issues (we were only the one vehicle). Stayed at Little Paradise while at Bhanga Nek. The camp was very quiet for a December with maximum 6 other vehicles. I think the fact that it is quite far from the beach may make it less popular than those camps closer to the ocean. Little Paradise is rather run down, needs maintenance and has limited facilities (like most camps we saw in the area). But for us it was great - quiet, secluded, peaceful and good bird life. Mornings were spent snorkeling at Bhanga Nek, afternoons relaxing at the camp with the binoculars look for birds. Will definitely return to the area.
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