Upon first inspection, the Lydenburg (Mashishing) area doesn’t seem like an overly attractive destination for a weekend getaway. It serves as more of a stopover on the way to the Kruger and is regularly outshined by its sister town, Dullstroom. However, nestled in between the goldfields of the Steenkampsberg and Mauchsberg mountain ranges is a true gem – the Nooitgedacht Trout Lodge & Hatchery. ANTON WILLEMSE JNR reveals more.
Regular readers might recognise the name Nooitgedacht Trout Lodge & Hatchery. This camping spot has previously played host to the now famous Bush Run events we regularly cover, and our Landy-loving friends encouraged us to visit this beautiful destination over Easter.
The campsite is only three hours east of Johannesburg in the province of the rising sun, Mpumalanga, and sits in a valley at the precipice of South Africa’s Great Escarpment. The surrounding mountains makes you feel as if you’re trapped in a beautiful oil painting, complimented by the Spekboom River running through the valley past Nooitgedacht.
The river is the water source for the other leg of the enterprise, the trout hatchery. In fact, Nooitgedacht is one of the best flyfishing destinations in the country. Whether fishing in the Spekboom River or any of the three dams, Nooitgedacht’s waters are well stocked with trout, ready to challenge the most astute ‘rainbow’ hunter and humble beginner alike. And for those beginners, don’t fear… you don’t need your own rod or flies because there are rigs to hire at the camping spot for those without the necessary kit.
If fishing isn’t really your thing, the lodge and camping site still has a lot to offer. The Nooitgedacht reserve has become a favourite for soaring eagles and nesting Cape vultures, thanks to the surrounding mountains and cliffs. The flora along the Spekboom River acts as a homestead to a plethora of game, ranging from leopards to kudus, otters and the reclusive brown hyenas.
Nooitgedacht also offers additional activities for the more adventurous types, which includes horseback riding, hiking and clay-pigeon shooting. However, we had a plan for the weekend as I was looking to catch my first fish on a fly, which proved much more complicated than I anticipated.
Once we arrived at Nooitgedacht, we set up camp on the banks of the river and immediately started to scout the clear waters for that elusive rainbow trout. My travelling partner and I have fly fished before but are far from experts, which was evident from our lack of success thus far. We arrived at dusk, just the right time for fishing. However, after about an hour of no bites, we decided to meander back up to camp to have a well-deserved beer whilst enjoying a marvellous sunset over the mountains.
The following day we were up bright and early to head up to the main dam in front of the lodge. The scene that greeted us resembled something out of a big-budget Hollywood movie. The mist lay beautifully on the lake, complementing the timeless colonial architecture of the lodge as the mountains behind basked in the golden hue of the rising sun. We had bad luck with the fishing, but how could you care about virtually anything if you’re surrounded by such unspoiled beauty?
After an enjoyable morning by the water, we headed up to the lodge, where Vicky, the lodge chef, prepared a fantastic breakfast for the two of us. We would need the energy from the meal because next on our agenda was Nooitgedacht’s off-road track.
As I mentioned, Nooitgedacht sits in a valley surrounded by towering mountains. On top of one of these mountains is a flat plateau, accessible via an off-road track carved through the mountain. It’s a nice challenge for a novice off-roader and can be done in most 4x4s. So simply put, if you’re camping at Nooitgedacht and have a 4×4, this is a must-do. Once we reached the top, we were greeted by a splendid view overlooking the entirety of the valley and the Spekboom River below. After basking in the glory, we made our way back to the lodge and the dam to try our hand at fishing for the rest of the day. As the sun set behind the mountain, we felt rested and reenergised and delighted with our impromptu Easter getaway.
To conclude, Nooitgedacht Trout Lodge & Hatchery acts as the perfect weekend getaway for the avid fly fisherman and the entire family. The serenity of the flowing water and the sheer beauty is bound to bring peace to your soul. It’s a step into the past and a leap away from technology, thanks to the almost zero cell reception. I loved the place, and it has become a favourite as a result. It is truly a gem within the forgotten goldfields of Lydenburg. And it demands a visit if you’re ever travelling through the area.
In a Nutshell
TYPE OF ACCOMMODATION: Camping or a lodge stay (rooms are fully catered).
NEAREST TOWN: Lydenburg (23.3km)
STANDS: Five (maximum of four people per stand)
SHOP: Yes (at the lodge, offering ice, fishing equipment and some refreshments. Firewood is provided by the lodge.
PET FRIENDLY: Yes
FISHING: Yes (rods and flies available to rent)
CELL PHONE RECEPTION: No (WiFi available at the lodge)
ACCESSIBILITY: Gravel (the lodge is accessible for most vehicles, but road cars and caravans won’t be able to reach the campsite due to water crossings – for this, vehicles and trailers with higher ground clearance is required)
- Lodge: R1 500 per person sharing, with R1 800 per person single supplement. Children under 12 pay R750 per person. Includes meals and fishing.
- Camping: R230 per person, with children under 12 paying R180 per person. This does not include fishing – a once off fee of R350 per person is payable to fish. Strictly flyfishing gear and catch and release.
- Minimum charge of R1 000 per night to get the camp exclusively to yourselves.
- There is a R100 conservation fee that is payable per vehicle.
CONTACT: +27 71 088 0606 / +27 82 776 2526 | email@example.com | www.nooitgedacthtroutlodge.co.za
*Prices and amenities detailed in this article are based on information received and are subject to change without prior notice. – Ed.