Meditating in the Mountains

Unfortunately this is becoming a regular theme. Rex goes off fishing in some beautiful stream, and blanks yet again. You must be thinking that I’m a pretty hopeless fisherman. If you are, well you not alone. All I want to do is catch one fish, just one and bring it home to cook for Jen (after throwing it at her first). I have to agree with Jenny that technically speaking fishing means catching fish and so what I do must be something else. If its not fishing then what is it? Mediation came to my mind this weekend. What better way to describe my hobby. Its the best way to unwind and completely zone out and forget about everything else. Not that my life’s is so stressful that I need meditation, but its good to zone out none the less.

This weekend we spent a family weekend at Lotheni Nature Reserve in the Southern Drakensberg. It’s somewhere I have hiked through twice, many years back, but I’ve never stayed in the chalets. I can’t believe I’ve never stayed there before, as its an absolute gem of a place. This was actually a family getaway for Oliver’s first birthday party. Most babies have a big fancy birthday party where every baby and mother in the neighbourhood comes round to gorge themselves on sweets and cakes .A birthday party for a one year old? Come on, who are you kidding, they cant even talk, let alone know the significance of a birthday! It seems a bit of a waste of effort to me, to put all that effort into babies who are just as happy eating guinnea fowl shit and soil, actually probably happier. We did Ollie’s birthday a little differently. He spent his birthday crawling around naked on the sprawling lawns of the Lotheni camp, scrounging the food that was meant for the guinnea fowl and starlings. It was a special day for the rest of us, as it was a great family get together with my grandmother coming up for the day with my uncle.

Olli on his first birthday, competing with the guinnea fowl for a feed.


So what about the fishing? Well, pretty much the same as the last time. absolutely gorgeous water, but Lotheni’s Brown trout were nowhere to be seen. I spent a few hours fishing the section around Cool pools, where I rose a decent fish which I missed (probably meditating too hard) and had one tiddler splash at my fly. Other than that, it was just casting practice, and lots of meditation. On Saturday morning I fished hard for a few hours up the Left hand fork of the Lotheni River that comes in from the west. I fished a few km above Simes Cottage while everyone picnicked on the rivers edge. It was the most beautiful water, where I would expect to find a fish in every pocket, but I didn’t even spook a fish.

The Lower section just below Cool Pools where I did see a few fish.
Fishing up the west fork of the Lotheni River.
Olli having a whale of a time with mommy.
Olli fast asleep while hiking up to our picnic spot on the upper Lotheni River.


The view from my bedroom window


This morning Jenny and I went for an early hike up the Northern fork of the Lotheni river, which according google maps, is called the Elandshoek River. we walked about 4 or 5km upstream of the main confluence. This was even better looking water than the left branch! I fished hard for a few hours before we had to head back to be there when Granny arrived. Here again, I didn’t even see a fish. If there were Rainbows in the river, I would have expected to be hooking them in every pocket. It seems like that both the Lotheni and the Mkomazi Brown trout have been severely thinned out by the drought. Both rivers seem to have a few fish lower down, but in both rivers, I saw nothing higher upstream, where the water actually looked better. Anyone wanting to go and fish those rivers, and who actually wants to catch something, then focus on the lower reaches. Maybe its even worth going down into the tribal lands where there is more holding water. It wasn’t for a lack of flow, the rivers were flowing at a perfect level, its just that there seem to be bugger all fish higher up. But then we are talking about those sneaky things called Brown Trout which can appear out of nowhere and then disappear again leaving the river looking devoid of fish.

A gorgeous tributary coming in from the north east. This must also hold fish, at least in the good years.
My photographer and meditation Buddy. I don’t always fish in my trail running shoes, but we did a fair bit of running in the morning to get up the valley, and then back out again.
This is where we turned back. I was champing at the bit to keep on going. I’m sure there is still a good 5 km + of water upstream of this point which should hold fish.
Water doesn’t get much cleaner than this.
Prospecting some pocket water
As you go higher up the Elandshoek River, the river bed becomes strewn with big boulders which make for some great holding water.
A perfect pool, high up the Elandshoek River.
Looking back up the Elandshoek River which drains the southern slopes of Giants Castle. I think that on some maps this is the Lotheni River.


  1. Hi Rex,

    You are correct on the name of the Elandshoek by the way, and the west/south west branch is the Lotheni itself. I too have hiked up both some distance, but even in the good years fish seem more plentiful lower down. My standard protocol is fishing from a few hundred yards down into the tribal area, up to cool pools. I really should explore further down towards the Hlambamasoka though…..down to Folly Bridge. Fish are indeed sparse, but we have caught 1 or 2 this year. They will bounce back!


    • Hi Andrew. I have been wondering why they rainbows seem to thrive in the upper reaches of the berg streams and yet the browns seem to like it lower down. In other parts the browns seem to do just fin in these tiny little streams. Simon bunn was telling me about the different strains of brown trout and that some were adapted more to lakes and others to rivers? What are your thoughts? And why are all the rainbow rivers such as umzimkhu and ngwagwane so heavily populated in general compared to the lotheni and mkhomazi? The bushmans and mooi seem to have a much higher populations than mk and loth?


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