The objective of this monthly blog is to highlight interesting places worthwhile visiting within one and a half hour’s driving distance from White River. To be honest, I was a bit stumped for this month’s destination. Fortunately this is not due to a lack of venues or activities in the Lowveld.
Youth day on June the 16th provided the perfect opportunity to explore a district of our country I haven’t been to before, Verlorenkloof. Verlorenkloof Estate is a well-established and highly regarded share block development and self-catering holiday resort on the eastern escarpment in the heart of the trout triangle in Mpumalanga.
Situated 4400 feet above sea level it is Highveld but still over 2000 feet lower than Dullstroom which is a mere fifteen kilometres away as the crow flies. I find this fascinating as the shortest road from Verlorenkloof to Dullstroom is seventy odd kilometres. Google Earth reveals that The Highland Gate Golf and Country Estate is only two kilometres away from Verlorenkloof. You’d need boots and a serious affinity for bundu bashing to hike up the gorge and to the golf course as there is no direct road up and over the mountain.
Mr H and I planned some trout fishing and landscape photography for the afternoon. We left White River at noon. The N4 through Schoemanskloof was a nightmare with traffic as it was an unofficial long weekend. The turn off to Mashishing (Lydenburg, R36) brought some relief from the traffic but presented potholes the size of bath tubs. Luckily this stretch of road is only about eleven kilometres long and soon we turned left onto the Verlorenkloof dirt road just before the Kwena Dam.
The majestic Steenkamp Mountains rise high into the sky as you drive deeper into the valley. The dirt road is decent and can be driven with a normal car. The estate’s reception must be phoned to gain access through the entrance gate. We had a quick stop at the picnic site next to the Crocodile River before heading to the restaurant at reception to have a sandwich. Yes, it’s true. We didn’t think to pack a picnic basket.
It was getting late so we made our way to one of the seven trout dams. Mr H got going with fishing and I tried some long exposure photography. The sun was setting fast behind the mountains which created high contrast areas of bright golden grass land and dark shadows in the valleys.
There are a plethora of activities to enjoy at Verlorenkloof Estate including trout fishing, horse riding, mountain biking, birding, botany, hiking and archaeology. The estate offers arguably the best trout fishing in Mpumalanga on a six kilometre stretch of the upper Crocodile River. This is due to the fact that the upstream catchment area produces a perennial flow of neutral to alkaline, clear and well oxygenated water. This builds up the food chain for trout, which breed annually in the river.
Dams are stocked monthly during the wet summer months and more regularly from March to October. Catches are duly recorded and the fishing is actively managed for sustainability and enjoyment.
Over 300 bird species can be found on the estate, six of which are endemic to the area, while an additional eleven species are endemic to Southern Africa. Three species are listed in the South African Red Data Book – Peregrine Falcon, Southern Bald Ibis and the Broad-tailed Warbler, all of which are seen regularly.
The vegetation at Verlorenkloof contains many of the “escarpment specials” that make this region so unique. To date 452 plant species have been identified at Verlorenkloof of which 140 are tree species.
With Verlorenkloof’s unspoilt landscape and surroundings, rambling and hiking is a favourite activity. The 1600 ha property boasts a forty two kilometre network of professionally laid out trails that passes through five eco-zones. The well-marked trails offer everything from short scenic rambles to strenuous walks and overnight hikes.
After a spectacular sun set the winter chill descended in earnest. We had a celebratory drink on an afternoon well spent at Verlorenkloof Estate before heading homewards.