Be there hippos

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Posted on: September 3, 2014

Sometimes glamping is so removed from the natural environment that you may as well stay in a hotel. Not this one. This is the “real deal” in terms of close contact with nature, of course combined with a good dose of plush comfort. Rustic and beautiful tents on raised wooden platforms in a nature reserve, Kosi Forest Lodge gives a feeling of being amongst the trees. This is African safari style at its most authentic and lovely.


Thatched tents set in indigenous forest

Thatched tents set in indigenous forest

Each tent has a thatched roof, with half-wooden, half-canvas sides – the ideal way to feel both connected with the outdoors and safe and cosy. There are smooth wooden floors and a private deck with outdoor furniture. The beds are garnished with white linen, and a wide, white mosquito net. An indoor basin, toilet and dressing area are separated from the bedroom. Then one walks out to a heavenly bathroom – literally open to the night skies, with a generous bath, raised from the sand, and an open-air shower set under a pretty tree. The bathroom is completely private, with a natural reed wall all the way around. Happy sighs.


Bathe under open night skies - photo bu Guy Upfold

Bathe under open night skies – photo by Guy Upfold


There is limited electricity, which adds to the safari feel. At night the path through the sand forest to dinner is lit with oil lamps. One may choose to have meals in the lounge, on the deck or at a boma with roaring campfire in the centre. The meals are both generous and delicious.

The open bar is the gathering place to discuss the choice of adventure activities for the day, which include snorkeling, a Raffia Palm walk, kayaking or a boat ride through the lakes to a natural swimming beach.

With some intense discussion we choose the self-drive snorkeling option, and arrive to find a duffel bag packed with every possible convenience for our day trip. We feel like children, where a kind Mom has thought through every possible moment and has packed everything one might need for the day. After a surreal time floating gently along the reef at the mouth of Kosi Bay, we drive up to a viewpoint of the four lakes for our picnic lunch. We are starving squeal with delight when we open our packed picnic basket, which is full of interesting treats. We sit on our picnic blanket and nod with approval, saying “These people know how to keep a tourist happy.”


Snorkeling in the safe Kosi Bay mouth

Snorkeling in the safe Kosi Bay mouth

Accommodation Experience:

We wake at 7am after almost 10 hours of sleep. We lift every one of our 7 tarpaulin awnings and watch the sun rise through the dappled forest. We speculate about the size of the critter we heard munching outside our tent at 3am. My partner insists it may have been a hippo, but I argue that sounds get magnified in the dark night such that it may have been a large grasshopper. We settle on the more likely scenario – that it was probably an antelope (albeit a very large one, mumbles my partner).

At 7.15am a flask of hot water and fresh milk arrives for our morning coffee, with a gracious and gentle “Good morning.” I take my coffee out to a warm bath and lie watching the sun rise higher in the sky, while an Emerald-Spotted Wood Dove calls. Suddenly there is a loud honking, followed by a snort and grunt. “You see!” calls my partner. “There are hippo here.” “Yes,” I concede, “and it did sound rather close.”


Sundowners down by the pool overlooking the lake where hippos grunt is a highly recommended activity

Sundowners down by the pool overlooking the lake where hippos grunt is a highly recommended activity

A review by Characterstay blogger: Photographs by Characterstays and Guy Upfold.



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