Johannesburg - Some 10km off the Skurweberg pass on the R541 between Machadodorp and Badplaas is Mount Komati River Lodge. Flanked by craggy mountains where zebras, wildebeest, blesbok, duiker, klipspringer, oribi, bushbuck and grey rhebok graze, the lodge offers a great “Out of Africa” experience 240km from Gauteng.
Mount Komati River Lodge is an owner-run, 1 000ha game farm belonging to the Wessels family, and Pieta Wessels explained that the idea behind opening the lodge was to allow guests to enjoy a sense of “belonging” during their stay.
The focus is on the wilderness element, the scenery, the chance to hike or climb, to hunt the wild yellowfish or tempt the rainbows and browns in the Angel’s View trout dam – or laze on the river, chill under the trees, watching the monkeys cavorting in the branches and keeping an eye out for Knysna loeries or Narina trogon.
“Why buy a farm [and have all the expenses and maintenance concerns],” asks Pieta, “when you can visit Mount Komati and enjoy it as your own little piece of Africa during your stay.”
The trip up the mountain on the Eco-trail was worth the bump and grind. The views in all directions were spectacular. We saw wildebeest, blesbok and plenty of zebra and one or two raptors taking an early thermal spin. Time limitations meant we could not reach the really high ground where the rhebuck hang out but we were greeted – or warned off – by the baboons.
Mount Komati River Lodge opened to the public last year and has added a new dimension to the Highlands Meander fishing route. Unlike many fly fishing destinations, guest numbers are limited and, as a rule of thumb, only one group will be booked in at one time. There is no access for day visitors.
There is a choice of accommodation at the lodge. Raaswater is a luxurious thatched house with two double bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, and a superbly-fitted kitchen.
The loft sleeps four in a double bed and two singles, and there is a family room tucked in under the sloping thatched roof.
The intriguingly named Ietermagog Camp, a stone’s throw down river from Raaswater, was built in the style of the Kruger National Park’s hiking trail camps, though much more sophisticated and comfortable. The four stone-and-thatch chalets are set back in the shelter of indigenous trees, overlooking a sloping lawn above the river.
Each chalet sleeps two and the two smallest units share a thatch and wood ablution block. The biggest chalet consists of a double room with a separate bathroom, a kitchen, a dining room and lounge. The sleeping units flank a communal enclosed lapa and a fully equipped kitchen.
The lodge offers 2km of upper Komati River fishing for small- and large-scale yellowfish, bream and eels, with an extra 6km available by arrangement on a neighbouring farm. Angels’ View trout dam offers fishing for rainbows in the 500g to 1kg range and also for trophy rainbow, brown and golden trout in the 3.3 to 3.7kg range. Basic tackle and a limited range of flies are available. Rod fees are included in the accommodation rates. The general rule is catch and return but a limited quantity of trout can be kept for the table.
Besides fishing, very selective bow hunting is permitted to maintain the ecological balance as there are no top predators on the farm.
Activities include hiking, bird watching, game viewing and the 4x4 eco-trail.The lodge is primarily self-catering but catered meals can be arranged.
Rates: Ietermagog camp: R3 080/night. There is an opening special of R2 400/night which works out at R300pp. Raaswater: R800/per person/night (minimum four people). Additional guests: R400/person/night.