The beach at Mbotyi, facing onto the warm Indian Ocean would be it’s main attraction for me.
It is beautiful, golden and completely uncrowded. Cool sea breezes keep the intense heat at bay. But make sure to use copious quantities of sunblock for obvious reasons.
Personally I would be cautious about ocean swimming here due to well-known presence of sharks all along this coastline. I think a quick dip, paddling, etc, should be fine.
The Mbotyi River Lodge website and videos explain the facilities available. Maybe a bit over-sold! The best way to explain where it is would be to drop these coordinates into the Google Maps search bar: 31°27’54.1″S 29°43’56.5″E
I was with a bunch of hiking buddies who were camping. I didn’t have a tent (isn’t feasible to bring camping gear from Ireland since my journeys to South Africa are sporadic and temporary).
There are family cabins available which overlook the beach and looked wonderful, but not inexpensive for these parts and an unreasonable price for one person. Hence my only real option was staying in a ‘rondawel’, or thatched single-room dwelling on the campsite.
It wasn’t adequate for a number of reasons so I cut my stay at Mbotyi River Lodge short.
All told, it is a beautiful and very lush part of South Africa. The coastline is beyond compare.
Would I go back again?
Altogether it was an interesting trip, but no, sorry to say it wouldn’t be on my list of places to return to, for the following reasons:
Distance: simply too far from Johannesburg, about 850km, with many attractive alternatives more aligned with my preferences much closer.
Dirty: littering and rubbish is such a problem generally in South Africa and also in this locality. The campsite itself was clean and tidy but the community around the Mbotyi resort and the access routes to the beach were littered. Not nice in such a beautiful place.
Accommodation: Unacceptable rondawel accommodation for ‘single’ travelers – the resort just doesn’t suit ‘adventure’ type travelers in my opinion. Others it might suit much better.
Accessibility: the last 30km or so to the resort is on dirt road which frankly was poorly maintained and deeply rutted in some sections. Essentially it’s mostly jungle around Mbotyi! I would be seriously concerned about a normal car being able to get in or out of Mbotyi after heavy rainfall, which does happen regularly around here.
Driving: I can’t emphasise enough how unacceptably dangerous I found ‘driver’ behaviour in Kwazulu Natal, as well as South Africa in general to a significant extent. Certainly at night I think it would simply be too dangerous to travel by road around these parts. I gather the road safety statistics for South Africa are mind-boggling and it is easy to see why. Any sort of discipline and plain common-sense out there on the roads? Not much!
Local facilities: The nearest local ‘town’ is Lusikisiki, almost 30km away, mostly dirt road as explained earlier. A very bizarre bazaar! Basically chaotic, a complete kip, but I suppose if one’s used to that sort of thing one might be able to find what one needs. Further back is the larger Flagstaff and I couldn’t even start to describe that! Wow! All I can say is if you plan to go through it, I suggest make absolutely sure you do so very, very early in the morning!
Ok, that’s that part of South Africa done. Moving on!