A Summer’s Escapades Into The Mountain Kingdom Part 3 of 4
Words and photos courtesy of Rex Fey
Waterfalls, Trout and Morning Sickness
This year my life has changed a lot! And this was a trip I will remember well for reasons other than the fishing. I will remember it for spectacular waterfalls, morning sickness and tummy bugs!
My sister and my fiancée had both recently fallen pregnant within weeks of each other. The trip had been planned for some time and, despite buns in the ovens, we were all still keen to go on the trip. So obviously we had to change our plans slightly and make sure our ladies were relatively comfortable and didn’t have to walk too far.
By now I have fished almost all the rivers in eastern Lesotho, and one of the few places I hadn’t been was the Sebaphala River. This is the river that drains the southern bump of Lesotho, and flows north to its confluence with the Senqu River near the town of Mt Moorosi. It’s a beautiful river and is relatively low in altitude compared to most of the rivers I fish in Eastern Lesotho. The road from Mt Moorosi up the Sebaphala River is a good gravel road. Our destination was Ha Liphapang village at the end of the road.
Malealea Lodge have initiated a tourism community project in the village to cater for fisherman and hikers who want to see the famous bushman paintings. There is very good trout fishing above and below the village, and there is a bonus of some very good sight fishing to Smallmouth Yellows if you are there in the summer months. I didn’t fish for the yellows which are more abundant the lower down you go, but I did land one good fish of about 3lbs below the village when we were at a river crossing driving in.
We spent one night in the rustic but comfortable accommodation. We met with the chief and told him our plans of hiring a guide, a horse and a few donkeys, and then to walk up the river for a few days to the last village. We started off our trek by hiking up the Tsatsane River valley to see the famous Tsatsane Rock paintings. I don’t much about them, but they are probably the best bushman paintings I have seen! They are well worth the visit.
I caught a few small rainbow trout in the Tsatsane River, but the lower section near the caves doesn’t have too much potential holding water. From the Tsatsane/Sebaphala confluence we had about a 10km walk up a beautiful open valley. One thing that stood out from a lot of the places I’ve been in Lesotho, is the beautiful stone masonry in the area. Being predominantly sandstone lower down in the valley, the villagers have used this soft rock to make the most beautiful houses. We didn’t fish much on the way up. I caught a few decent sized fish of around 10” which we kept for dinner, and I saw a few much bigger fish in the 16 – 20” range that I spooked and didn’t have time to fish for. We wanted to get to our destination and then set up a permanent camp and fish for three days using the one base. Our destination was the last village where the river splits into 3 equal sized streams. Well at least that’s what it looked like on Google earth.
Unfortunately like most of the rivers in Lesotho this year the fish were scarce. They had apparently also had a few very dry seasons and with little snow in the winters to help keep the spring flows up.
Nevertheless I caught a few very good fish and the small fish were all in very good condition. I suspect that next summer there could be some very good fishing in the Sebaphala River. In the upper reaches there is relatively little holding water and so I didn’t have the best fishing higher up and to add to that we had a day of dirty water after a big thunderstorm. What the trip lacked in fishing, it made it up in scenery and good company. We spent lots of time scrambling up gorges with spectacular waterfalls and vegetation unlike I have seen anywhere else in Lesotho. Interestingly, the village where we made our main camp was abandoned. Our guide said that the inhabitants had one by one left for greener pastures to find work in South Africa, or to move closer to civilisation.
If you want to go purely for the fishing then you should focus on the area from the village upstream for about 5km, and then there is a beautiful looking gorge about 10km down from the village. We fished outside those areas. It’s also well worth the visit just to see a remote village and how the people live.
The bushman paintings are also a must. To book the accommodation I recommend you get hold of Malealea lodge in Lesotho as they control the bookings, but so few people go there that I’m sure if you just pitch up you will not find anyone else staying there. And if there are too many of you for the camp then the chief will organise village accommodation for you. These community projects need to be supported for them to work. They are really trying hard to make the place attractive to tourists and fisherman but it’s still unknown by most travellers. On the fishing side they have stopped all the local villagers from fishing, not that they fish much anyway.