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Rocktail... where the turtles gather

Rocktail Bay takes it name from a ship that was wrecked there. That wreck might have happened during a storm - the sort of storm that Noah might have encountered - the sort of storm that reminds us that nature is not necessarily benign...
Such a storm visited us the weekend we left Durban en route to the Mozambican border.

Nature at its best, tranquil - other than when a storm might strike - and the arena for a spectacle not to be missed when the turtles land.
Rocktail Beach Camp is remote. So remote that cellphone coverage is not available. So remote that you cannot get to the camp with a 2 x 4 vehicle. So remote that you will find a stretch of wilderness that is, truly, unspoilt. No wonder the leatherback and loggerhead turtles come here to lay their eggs.

Part of the Maputaland Marine Reserve only Wilderness Safaris has permission to dive here and this makes it among the most pristine sites in the world.

Fancy seeing a lot of sea life?


Expect a huge diversity of fish along with dolphins, whale sharks, manta rays, other big rays, turtles, grey reef sharks, white tip sharks, tiger sharks, zebra sharks, nurse sharks, ragged tooth sharks (pregnant females arrive between December and April). Humpback whales are regulars and we saw one breaching while we were walking along the endless beach.

If it's scenery you want...
Rocktail Bay is listed among the Top 10 Best Dive Sites in the world for its excellent corals and fish life that is extremely abundant as about 1200 species are found here as compared to 1500 in the whole of Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

The turtles come ashore during low tide at night from mid-October to mid-March to lay their eggs on the beach. Seeing these water beasts pull themselves through the sand tops many a wildlife fan's bucket list and was on ours too.

As we were travelling during this period, we had high hopes of witnessing this phenomenon.

Check out the turtles - but be prepared for an early start


Rocktail Beach camps provide Turtle drives and walks but, as mentioned previously, they are only at low tide at night, which might be at 4am when we visited.

Accommodations at Rocktail Beach Camp are in the form of canvas-sided structures that are on raised timber platforms. These roomy tents are comfortable with an en suite toilet and shower. On a beautiful day, it must be wonderful to shower looking out to sea with the canvas sides of the bathroom rolled up. The tents are positioned in the dense coastal forest, about a 20-minute brisk walk to the beach, in such a way that once inside them there is no visual hint of being around fellow guests.

Relax indoors if you wish, when all that hard work sunbathing on the beach tires you out.
Public spaces include the sitting room and dining area and a bar adjacent to a well-stocked cellar room. The high thatched ceiling has driftwood made chandeliers that are interesting. The decor is beach-shack chic. With the kind of sofas and side tables that you feel welcome to put your feet on.

No! You CAN'T call me


Rocktail Beach Lodge is ideal for families and those seeking a getaway. However, those expecting a five-star lodge experience will be disappointed. This is the place to be if you want to switch off and reconnect with your loved ones without the distractions of TV, Wi-Fi and wall-to-wall mobile coverage.

Despite the fierce weather we enjoyed walking totally alone along the beach and walks in the forest to look for the green twinspot, green malkoha, grey waxbill and Livingstone's turaco, as well as a number of small antelope that are frequently spotted. They were, however, taking shelter during our visit.

'Roughing it'... close to nature.
Lake Sibaya, a distance away from the camp and an optional excursion, is South Africa's largest natural freshwater lake and home to KwaZulu-Natal's second largest population of hippos and crocodiles but we couldn't find them.

Brimming with life


I'd love to visit again and experience the snorkelling at Lala Nek which has a sedimentary rocky reef with a safe shore entry, and brims with diverse marine life. On this visit, strong winds and rain prevented us snorkelling, but perhaps next time...

Although we didn't get what we came for we did have an opportunity to do something we never, ever do. Just be. Perhaps that's what I needed most.

Visit Rocktail Beach Camp online.

About Brian Berkman

Brian Berkman can be contacted on 083-441-8765 or email .
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