It was Friday, not unlike many others at work, but with a
difference. My fly gear was packed in my car and I was itching to get out of
the city to head to the Vaal River with Pieter. Our destination was Hakuna
Matata - a venue formally known as Bushveld Adventures, a few kilometers
outside of Parys.
We had been hearing that the Vaal river had been firing over
the last few days, and I was eager to get out of Johannesburg and onto the N1.
We arrived fairly late at Hakuna Matata, greeted by the very
enthusiastic owners who quickly made us feel at home. Our chalet for the
weekend was aptly called Timone and was a wonderfully appointed thatch-roofed
Our home for the next two nights
A fire and the sounds of wildlife - perfect.
Last-minute wading boot repairs
The best way to enjoy your evenings
Arriving at night, always means that the first morning is a
great surprise - finding your bearings and understanding the lay of the
land...Our first morning was no exception. Opening the curtains, we were greeted
with a sublime view of the mighty Vaal River with a long slow glide flowing past
our house, the occasional distinctive call of the fish eagle and the odd splash
of a fishy rise.
View from the bedroom.
View from the top balcony - a great way to start the day!
We wasted no time and quickly rigged up our 6 weights with
the obligatory nymphing setups. Each using a weighted standard caddis and
hot-spot nymph as point. The walk to the rapids was a short 10 minute reccie from
the chalet. Finally, it was time. With the first cast in to the white waters,
we could somehow sense that the conditions were just right.
Hobbling and shuffling our way across the river (as only
Vaal fly fishers do) Pieter quickly found his first slab of gold. A beautifully
conditioned Smallmouth Yellow, which took his Caddis dropper without any
hesitation. I quickly followed suit, with a very healthy Yellow - estimated at
about 4kg. The fish was feeding in the shallows and a quick drift proved irresistible
to the hungry inhabitant.
Pieter tying up some Airheads and Caddis Pupa
Perfect set of rapids
Yellow in perfect pre-spawning condition
Early morning Smallmouth Yellow
We soon found a quite backwater and immediately connected
with numerous fish. Averaging the 1.5 - 2kg mark. Pieter found the magic
ingredient being a caddis pupa (tied with a hint of CDC in the body).
We decided to head across the rapids to find some other
channels. Hakuna Matata shares its waters with Vaal de Soliel, which is about 2
km's downstream. It's a popular spot, for good reason. There are numerous
pockets and great rapids all adding up to a perfect nymphing experience for
Good rapids with plenty of water to explore
Taking some time out to enjoy the river
A hard-fighting Yellow about to swim off
Before long Pieter hooked into a very solid fish which got
caught up in the rapids, watching as the line went slack was heartbreaking. The
power of the fish was just too much for his rig - fish off. Not deterred, we
carried on for the rest of the day. The amount of fisheable water is staggering,
having just about tried all sections after a full day's-worth of casting, we
retired back to the chalet - tired and weary after a great day.
I awoke the next day, finding Pieter hunting for Barbel -
not to be out-fought this time he was casting a 9wt setup. He hooked a few and
found quite a few beasties outside the water beside the cottage - always a nice
distraction from the Yellows when you feel like different species on fly.
Back to the rapids, we again followed a similar strategy.
The water seemed to be much cleaner than the day before and visibility was
good. Owing to a lull in the wind we encountered a very heavy Caddis hatch. The
fish were hungry and the number of takes attested to this.
A happy Pieter with a slab of gold
Fish on and running for the rapids
We had a great session. Landing some very decent specimens,
none as large as the 4kg benchmark, but nonetheless great fun. We fished until
about noon - feeling the effects of the Vaal current and beating sun, we
retired back to our cottage to pack up and hit the road back to Johannesburg.
The accommodation and
Hakuna Matata is not hard to reach and is a short distance
from Parys, well signposted and on a manageable dirt road. The owners are very
friendly and are happy to oblige should you require anything during your
stay. For the non-fishing types, there
are a variety of activities including hiking, quad biking, rafting and other
outdoor-focused things to do and see.
Our Chalet was very clean and offered us all the amenties we
could have asked for. There is a fully equipped kitchen, a braai place and even
a firepit. The interior is cosy with a double bed upstairs, 3 single beds and a
bunk bed down stairs. There is one bathroom with a bath.
Side view of the chalet
Another view of the chalet
The chalet is positioned right on the water
Inside the chalet
The comfortable couches downstairs certainly made for a
welcome afternoon nap with the sound of the river gushing below.
At the time of our visit, the rates were R270 pppn. All
units are self-catering. Camping options are also available.
Hakuna Matata is definitely appropriate for families looking
for an escape from the city, with the fly fishing members of the family spoilt
with options. I would also recommend Hakuna Matata to small groups of fishing
buddies looking to spend a night or two on the river as was the case with us.
A great stay and recommended!