It’s very special. And, depending on the season, you could see one of sweet Planet Earth’s greatest wildlife sights. Loggerhead and leatherback turtles coming to shore to lay their eggs. Stay longer and you even may see them hatch. It’s unbelievable. Hundreds of tiny little turtles braving it to the sea.
You won’t be sleeping on the sand though as the camp isn’t sea side. The beach is highly protected, highly remote and highly wild. Rocktail Camp is inside the coastal forest, next to the dive centre. But it’s not just for divers, it’s also an amazing place if you’re a family looking for adventure. You’ve got to like the sound of this raw, rustic edge of the world though. It's not your typical resort. The sand dunes are being preserved for the future. The sea is warm, clear, and can get wavy.
Panoramic ocean vistas, untouched inshore reefs, oh and by the way you’re also in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park too. And that word, isimangaliso, means ‘miracle’ or ‘something wondrous’ in Zulu. Says it all really. Expect a wake up call by the birds and monkeys.
So, there are 14 en suite canvas tents on a raised deck. 9 twins with three quarter beds and 4 family tents with 2 three quarter beds in the main bedroom and 2 three quarter beds in the second bedroom. Children of all ages are welcome. The honeymoon tent has a separate lounge area and two loungers on the deck.
The camp has 6 mattress converters which turn twin beds into king-size beds. These need to be requested prior to arrival.
There are canvas roll down blinds for all weather conditions, tea and coffee making facilities, a writing desk and chair. Please note, there is no air-conditioning but there is a ceiling fan. In the winter, hot water bottles and extra blankets are provided.
There’s 220V electrical lighting and 220V plug points in the tents. It’s a remote place and sometimes the mains power fails. There are generators but you can’t use hairdryers and electric shavers with this power.
To get to the main area, you need to walk down a sandy path - don't pack fancy shoes. Just chill on the raised deck which overlooks the Coastal Forest. You can see the sea from here too.
Hungry? Well, this is a fully catered camp serving vegetarian food. Meat is available on request but they do not serve seafood.
If you’re self-driving you will need a 4x4. You will also need to make careful arrangements with the camp. The Manzengwenya Park access gate into the Maputaland Coastal Forest Reserve is open from 6am and closes 6pm. You can’t enter or exit the Reserve outside of these hours. Also, don’t rely solely on your GPS system.
Remember we said this place is remote? Ok, so bear in mind mobile phone coverage can be dodgy, erratic or non existent.
Swimming pool; dining room; lounge and wrap around veranda; raised sea viewing deck; fire pit; wine cellar; pizza oven; laundry service (no delicates); parking; shuttle service to beach (till 6pm); children’s playroom with games and scheduled activities (these change monthly); in-tent massage treatments; dive centre and courses available.
The beauty of Maputaland is that you can do as much or as little as you want. Relax on the beach, stroll through the forest or join your children and explore the rock pools at low tide.
What else can you do? Masses. Let’s start with a walk. You can go on both guided and unguided forest walks. You can even try the scorpion walk - this is guided and you basically search for scorpions. Then identify venomous and non-venomous species under UV light.
Water time? Get on in. The reefs are healthy and home to an amazingly diverse mix. Dive with qualified, experienced instructors and dive masters. Ragged-tooth sharks, wrasse, potato bass, moray eels. Scuba diving divers must bring certified dive cards and/or log books.
You can do a PADI Scuba Diving Course here too. From a scuba diving perspective, Rocktail Bay is unique. Not only is the diving conducted within a Reserve and World Heritage Site, 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. Look out for triggerfish, moorish idol, bannerfish, coachman and penciled, powder-blue and blue-banded surgeonfish. You may see fire goby and scissortail too.
Sharks can be seen, including great hammerheads, tiger sharks, blacktop reef sharks and the enormous whale shark. Large numbers of pregnant spotted ragged-tooth sharks appear in the area from late November until March. The sharks love a patch of sea which is only 10m deep - so divers and snorkellers can spot them.
Or just swim or boogie board.
There’s also a trip called the Ocean Experience, it’s basically a safari on the sea.
Here in October to March? This is loggerhead and leatherback turtle time. They wander up the beach at night to lay their eggs. Turtle drives are booked in camp with a limit of one turtle drive per guest. There’s also a maximum of 10 people per drive.
June to October, humpback whales show up during their annual migration. You’ll probably see dolphins too.
If you want to fish, you can but you need to bring your own equipment. And fishing licenses/permits are required for both conventional fishing and fly-fishing. Sort one before you arrive.
And by the way, all activity times are dependent on the tides and weather and will be advised in camp.
And what about on dry land? Well, the ancient coastal dunes are amongst the tallest vegetated dunes in the world. They’re swathed in green forest and home to a variety of animals. Especially common reedbuck and red duiker. Hippo hang out in freshwater lakes. Bird watching is outstanding. Green twinspot, grey waxbill and both purple-crested and Livingstone’s turacos.
You can also go on a cultural village tour. Plus, there’s a range of activities for children too.