Organising, purchasing, reorganising, modifying, reorganising some more…repeat. That seemed to be the theme for our first few weeks in Durban. Making our “house on wheels” ready for a year on the road was like putting the pieces of a very intricate puzzle together! Once Magellan was mostly organised, it was time to hit the road and try out all of our new equipment before the big day; this included the fishing gear!
Our weekend away took us to the quaint town of Dullstroom, one of South Africa’s premier fly-fishing destinations. Located in between Johannesburg and Kruger National Park, Dullstroom is one of the coldest towns in the country. Combined with the chilling breeze coming from the dam, mornings had us bundled up, looking ready for a trip to Ski Dubai. However, checking in on social media and finding posts of 50c+ degree weather in the UAE, we accepted these wintery conditions with open arms.
The main idea of the trip was to go and target rainbow and brown trout on 4-5 weight fly rods. The trout generally live in very cold climates, making Dullstroom the perfect destination. When the fish are biting it can be extremely fun fishing. Coupled with the beautiful surroundings of mountains and the Highveld, it is even a great getaway for the not-so-avid fisherman. We stayed on a lovely farm which had three large dams stocked by the farmer’s hatchery. Unfortunately, two of the dams were completely dried up, evidence of the severe drought faced by most of the country.
“There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process,” stated Paul O’Neil in 1965…my sentiments exactly as we set up across the dam from a very serious looking family of fishermen. As a first-timer, I did not understand what all the fuss was about. However, within a few minutes, I was hooked; although I definitely did not look the part! Chris on the other hand was in his element unfurling the line over and over again. Whilst the fishing was a bit slow, we managed to land and successfully release fifteen rainbow trout of between 2-3 pounds, with no brown trout in sight.
Our weekend away concluded with a stopover in a one-horse town to test out the rooftop tent. The weather forecast indicated temperatures dipping below freezing. This would certainly put our Dubai-prone bodies to the test! Our Howling Moon rooftop tent kept us surprisingly warm and comfortable throughout the night. It wasn’t until our -5 degree wakeup call that the wrath of the cold was felt. The tent and the surrounding campgrounds were covered in ice, making our generally quick pack up an arduous event. It didn’t help that neither of us owned a pair of winter gloves.
Our trial was a success and we now felt 100% ready for our epic one-year adventure through Africa. Farewells to family and friends and off we’d be. Next Stop: Botswana, with stays in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the Central Kalahari, Nxai Pan, the Okavango Delta, and Chobe National Park. Stay tuned for more of our adventures through Africa.
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Words + Photos by: Chris and Amanda Fraser