In Part 1 I wrote about my first unsuccessful attempt to fish the most remote river in Lesotho. Part 2 is the second successful attempt to fish the same river. This time I took a different group of mates and we did a similar route to a few years before but in reverse. Obviously we ventured further down the “Remote” River to find the trout. We gave ourselves 8 days to get there and back instead of 5 days last time. Sorry guys this river will remain a secret. I highly doubt that many of you out there would attempt a full 2 day walk to get to a river just because its very remote and has probably never been fished before, but some places I have discovered are just too special share the location of.
Our first attempt was in April 2006, and the second attempt was in December 2007. It was a bit of a reunion of old Stellenbosch mates: Dale Thomas, Leigh Torr (now Leigh Thomas), and James Wilshere were old Stellies mates and also joining us was my sisters boyfriend (now husband), Rob Palmer.
There’s not many people who can claim to have been somewhere so remote that children ran screaming when the saw us. When we arrived in the village after our 3 day walk we were given such a warm welcome that I wished we could have spent every night there and fished from the village, but the trout were still a few hours downstream. The elders said that in their lifetimes that no white man had ever been in the valley, not even missionaries. It was a surreal experience to spend a night camping in the village, and interacting with people who had very little concept of the world where we came from. Several of them had worked in South Africa at some stage and so we communicated in Xhosa and broken Sesotho. This village is so remote and far from civilization that they have to walk 40km to get to the nearest road, and that is a seldom traveled road. It is basically a two day trip to the closest town, and it would also be a full two days walk back over the Drakensberg to get to the Parksboard offices.
Day 1 & 2: We were dropped off somewhere in Lesotho to save having to walk over the Drakensberg and so we could fish a different river before hiking into the next valley. We hiked for 2 days down a river I have fished many times before, fishing as we went.
Day 3: We hiked over a mountain range to get into the next valley. We climbed from 2400m to about 3100m, and back down to 2400m to get over the ridge into the Remote River valley. It was a good 5 hour walk and we arrived just in time to avoid an afternoon thunderstorm. We camped the 3rd night in the Remote River valley, just above the first village. We walked up the river and had a few casts and looked for fish but as I thought There were no trout up here.
Day 4: We walked down the Remote River valley for a few hours before we arrived in the first village where the children ran screaming when they saw us. It was only a week before Christmas and so the festivities were well under way and we were warmly welcomed to join in and have a drink of Umqombothi. The Sesotho Name for the village is a translated into something along the lines of “village in a hole” which is an appropriate description how the village lies in the bottom of a valley. After an hour or so of resting and chatting to villagers, we pushed on to find the waterfall where I hoped to find trout. The valley got steeper and steeper and it was a hectic scramble and slide to get down into the gorge. Sure enough we found the waterfall, and below the waterfall I caught 6 fat Rainbow trout of a pound or so. We hiked a few km below the waterfall to find a level place to camp for two nights.
Day 5: We fished all day and had some fantastic fishing. The fish were all about a pound, with a few bigger and some a bit smaller. It wasn’t easy fishing and we had to work quite hard for our fish. Its a very different river to other rivers I have fished in Lesotho. The river has a very steep gradient and so the pools are short but quite deep. Nymphs were what we caught most of our fish on, if not all our fish.
Day 6: We fished all morning before walking up to the village to camp the night there. On the way out of the gorge we decided the place needed a name. Coronary Crevasse was the name we chose, and you access it via Heart Attack Hill. These were very appropriate names that we came up with on our hike out of the gorge.
Day 7: We hired donkeys in the village to carry our bags to the top of the escarpment. The donkeys and their drivers chickened out half way when they saw the weather brewing. We got caught in an almighty storm with a tiny overhang for shelter. 5 giggling heathens huddling under a rock with lightning crashing all around. I wont lie to you, we absolutely shat ourselves, but in an amusing way. We watched the lightning explode a rock that we had been standing on only a few minutes before. God missed a great opportunity to hit CTL-ALT-DELETE but we all still here to tell the tale.
Day 8: We woke to a spectacular sunrise from the top of the Drakensberg. We spent A few hours climbing a prominent peak on the escarpment before hiking down. This was undoubtedly the most epic Lesotho hike I have every been on. I have yet to get back to that village but it has a special place in my heart, and some day I will return to visit those warm and friendly people of the”Village in the Hole”.