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mabibi Mabibi, South Africa


“It was such a privilege to have the experience of watching a turtle nesting and something that will remain with us for a long time.” – Guest Review from TripAdvisor

“The majestic turtle experience was one of the most special wildlife experiences I have ever had the privilege of watching.” – Guest Review from TripAdvisor

Scroll down for more information on our turtle tracking experience at Thonga Beach Lodge!

Research has shown that the mother returns to the same beach and that eggs are laid within metres of where the mother emerged as a hatchling years previously.

Guests at Thonga Beach Lodge can view the turtles as they are laying and every precaution is taken to ensure the turtles are not disturbed.

Turtle tracking is offered from November to end February in the evenings. These magnificent creatures return to the Maputuland coastline every year, having swum the length of the African continent, and return to the beach where they hatched.


Both loggerhead and leatherback turtles nest during the summer months at night (November – February). Steep beach faces make it easy for loggerheads to swim through the surf over low lying rock ledges. The females emerge from the surf and rest in the wash zone on the beach. Here they assess the beach for any danger by lifting their heads and scanning the beach. Satisfied that there is no danger they then proceed up the beach to well above the high water mark.


Having found a suitable site, the female commences by excavating a body pit, this enables her to lie with the top of her carapace level with the beach. She then digs an egg cavity with her hind flippers. The egg pit is a flask shaped hole about 50-80 centimetres deep. A normal clutch constitutes 100-120 soft white shelled eggs which are deposited into this hole. When all of the eggs have been laid the female fills the hole with sand and kneads the surface until the sand is packed hard.

Once this is done, she disguises the nest site by throwing sand with her fore flippers over the nesting area. Leatherbacks can return up to seven times to lay eggs, while loggerheads return up to four times in a single season.


Loggerhead turtle eggs take between 55-65 days to mature and leatherback turtle eggs take between 65-70 days. Once ready to emerge the hatchlings cut their way out of the egg with a special egg tooth on the end of their beaks. After the bulk of the eggs have hatched the hatchlings start digging at the sides of the nest. The hatchlings will often wait during the heat of the day, until the sand has cooled before emerging and heading to the sea.

The most serious threats that are present at various life stages

Nesting – Egg collecting, slaughtering for meat, coastal development, sand mining and beach driving

Home Ranges – (coral reefs, sea grass beds, open oceans) These are disturbed or destroyed by bad fishery practices, pollution and global warming.

Migration Movements – Their migration routes are threatened by trawlers or drift nets and long lines.

Littering in the Sea – The leatherbacks feed mostly on jellyfish – with the serious problem of plastic bags littering our seas, the bags are often ingested by turtles who choke on this toxic waste.

Contact Us

T: 035 474 1473


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