|Rocktail Beach Camp
Loggerhead and Leatherback turtle nesting site • Birding • World Heritage Site • Child friendly • Low risk malaria
|What makes Rocktail Beach Camp special
|40 kilometres of unspoilt, pristine coastline, situated within a World Heritage Site.|
|Innovative community tourism partnership. |
|Some of the world’s best scuba diving on 15 exclusive access reefs. Incredible marine diversity.|
|Authentic cultural experiences. |
|Globally important loggerhead and leatherback turtle nesting site. |
|Excellent subtropical birding with several local specials. |
Rocktail Beach Camp is set back in and shaded by the sanctuary of the lush Maputaland Coastal Forest covering the ancient dunes that make up the edge of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal coast. With the Maputaland Marine Reserve just offshore and the beach a brisk 20-minute walk from the camp, there are world-class diving and snorkelling, remote, unspoilt beaches and other beach adventures to be had.
The camp consists of 17 rooms (9 standard rooms plus 8 suites), all of which with en-suite bathrooms, open-feel indoor shower and overhead fans. Seven of these are family suites with a shared bathroom and two bedrooms for two adults and two children. A honeymoon suite has wonderful views over the ocean and dune forest. Rocktail Beach Camp also has a central dining room, bar and lounge with large wrap-around veranda. A raised viewing deck just off the veranda has wide views that extend out to the ocean. The camp’s main area has a wine cellar, large pool, curio shop and children’s playroom, complete with board games and other fun activities for families.
From a scuba diving perspective, Rocktail Bay is unique. Not only is the diving conducted within a Reserve and World Heritage Site along unspoiled reefs, but divers have the luxury of knowing that they alone have access to these sites and are the only underwater visitors along this stretch of the coastline. Maputaland, situated on KwaZulu-Natal’s north-eastern seaboard, is a diverse region of forested dunes, wetlands, sandy beaches, woodlands and warm seas. The camp is set within iSimangaliso (Greater St Lucia) Wetland Park, one of South Africa’s World Heritage Sites, while situated offshore is the Maputaland Marine Reserve, which offers sanctuary to prolific marine life including coral reefs, huge shoals of fish, and various dolphin and whale species. On land, this lush area abounds with a variety of animals, birds and plant life that provide a natural counterpoint to the bushveld. Common reedbuck frequent the marshes and grasslands and the red duiker lives in the forest areas. Hippo are found in freshwater lakes. Birding is outstanding, with a number of typical coastal forest species – Green Twinspot, Green Malkoha, Grey Waxbill, Purple-crested and Livingstone’s Turacos, Red-capped Robin-chat, the jewel-like African Emerald Cuckoo in the forests and Rosy-throated Longclaw in the grassland areas. Few sections of the South African coastline are as unspoilt and secluded as the area in the vicinity of Rocktail Bay. The bay itself is a little further away, but the 40km stretch of coast is known for its superlative, pristine dive spots as well as the loggerhead and leatherback turtles that come to lay their eggs and hatch on the beaches.
Activities include forest trails, bird watching – coastal forest and grasslands, surf and rock fishing (no tackle provided), snorkeling, scuba diving, excursions to Black Rock, horse riding, star gazing, quad biking and much much more. The beach is a 15-minute walk through coastal forest from the camp or a 5-minute vehicle transfer.
Community Partnerships: Rocktail Beach Camp is building off the excellent partnerships forged between Rocktail Bay Lodge and the local community. Rocktail Bay Lodge was one of the first joint ventures in South Africa between community, a conservation authority and ecotourism, and for its innovative operating model has received a number of awards. More than 2% of the community in the immediate settlements (comprising approximately 1 500 people of the Mqobela and Mpukane clans) are permanently employed at the camps and, through a programme called Business Linkages in Tourism, community-based enterprise is being supported to provide a range of additional products and services.
Turtles: The Rocktail Bay area hosts an annual spectacle that has remained unchanged for thousands of years. Every summer, hundreds of Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles complete their breeding cycle and emerge from the Indian Ocean to lay their eggs on this stretch of coastline – incredibly most returning to the exact beach on which they themselves hatched! However, turtle numbers seemed to be dwindling, possibly due to over-exploitation of sea turtle products, so in 1963, scientists from the then-Natal Parks Board (now Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife) under the direction of Dr George Hughes initiated a project to monitor the number of nesting females per season, and to protect the beaches on which they nest from further disturbance. Guests visiting Rocktail in summer are able to interact with the guides and scientists patrolling the beach at low tide at night in search of nesting turtles. The sight of a 750kg Leatherback heaving herself up and down the beach to lay her eggs must rate as one of the most moving wildlife experiences anywhere – often inspiring guests to donate funds or even ‘adopt’ their very own turtle.
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