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Thursday, 5 April 2012

Road to Loteni (1)

Land of mountains, streams, and waterfalls.

On Tuesday the 3rd, the Italian leprechaun, (a.k.a Enrico Bucceri) and I took a ride to the Loteni Nature Reserve in the southern Drakensberg. We left Estcourt in the dark at 5am, we had a long way to go and part of the road was bad. The reason for the trip? To fish for wild brown trout in the Loteni river.

The Loteni river has it's sources high up on the Drakensberg at about 10,000 feet. Along the way down it is joined by numerous tributaries of similar size, by the time it gets to about 5,000 feet it is a sizeable stream and the gradient, while still steep, becomes habitable to fish.  

Along the way we stopped dozens of times to admire the view and to take photos. This is a real country road, passing first through lush farm land and eventually some very real mountain wilderness. The  people are friendly and farmers in their pick-up trucks all wave and give you a smile as they drive past.

Click on pictures to enlarge.

Sunrise over the Kamberg Valley, all the hollows were filled with early morning mist.

A farm pond with sunlit hills in the background.

A farm sign along the road, the name of the farm intrigued me, I half expected to see Heathcliff to come striding along the road. The picture on the sign is of a wattled crane one of the rare crane species that can be found in this area.

One of the many mountain streams we crossed, name unknown. 

Close-up of the waterfall on the stream above. Seeing this pool I was very tempted to set up my 2 weight fly rod, climb through the fence and cast a small nymph. All in the name of science of course, although trespassing, not poaching, just to scientifically prove that there were or weren't trout in the river. 

The chances are very good that this stream holds a good trout population and has never, or hardly ever been fished. Most farmers I know don't seem to be very interested in fishing, they are too busy with the practicalities and problems of farming. 

Another stream a few kilometres further along, flowing out of the Inkomasi Wetlands Nature Reserve. Many species of water birds occur in this reserve, especially cranes. Other species of birds also occur especially grass-land birds and birds that prefer  higher altitude ecosystems. 

The same stream looking upstream, and a very trouty looking stream it is. This is public land so one could fish here after buying a permit, (R50 about $7 US) at the reserve office. I think I will go and explore the fishing possibilities here soon. It's way of the beaten track so I wonder if it ever gets fished.

Plunging over a waterfall into a gorge, the dew on the grass in the middle distance glistening like silver in the early morning light.

Blue gums framing blue gums. Blue gums were imported from Australia during the 19th century and have thrived here. Almost every farm in the country has a few blue gum trees, usually around the house and farm buildings for shade. They seem to be able to grow in almost any climatic conditions. The trees in the photo above will be subjected to extremes of temperatures from sub zero and snow to very hot.

Huge commercial plantations of blue gums supply South Africa's very big mining industry with pit-props. Blue gums grow very fast here and the wood is hard and resistant to rot, it takes many decades for a piece of blue gum to decompose. After having been treated with creosote, blue gum wood is also used as fence posts, telephone poles and power line pylons.  

From here we still had about 30km's to go.

Next post will cover the last half of the journey and a photo of an antelope that has become quite rare.


kare said...

Beautiful countryside.
i wonder if Blue gum would grow here in the Arizona desert?
i'm going to find out.
~God Bless

Shoreman said...

I agree. Some beautiful country. I don't know how you resisted fishing in some of those spots.


Phillip said...

Kare, blue gums grow in very arid regions of South Africa, so they might grow in your part of the world.

Mark, I'm a law abiding citizen, (well mostly). ;¬).

OneStonedCrow said...

Great images - I can smell the fresh mountain air ...

I'd love to spend a few weeks exploring the area.