The mountains are well known for their healing ability and the incredible beauty and peace of the surroundings are conducive to total mind and body renewal. Spend your time reading in the shade of a tree, listening to the bird calls, or lie back in one of the ‘jacuzzi’ rockpools with the mountains soaring around you.
The safe and tranquil districts of Wartrail & New England offer the perfect the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life, a stay here will leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated – even if ‘just chilling’ is more your style.
Each guest farm has beautiful gardens to relax in, most with a nearby river if you fancy a quick dip in summer. In the evenings curl up with a good book in front of a roaring log fire, or enjoy the chance to reconnect with friends and family over a delicious dinner. There are plenty of ways to enjoy Wartrail & New England with the minimum of physical effort. Below you will find some ideas.
The Wartrail & New England districts are a fly-fisherman’s paradise and the region is frequently featured in South Africa’s fishing and tourism press including The Complete Fly-Fisherman and Country Life.
Renowned fly-fisherman, Tom Sutcliffe, has this to say about the area: “New England & Wartrail is just a little off the main stream of the Barkly district’s fly-fishing, but nicely so, in the sense that it’s more undiscovered. There are good streams here, streams that are small and cosy; tight streams with clear water and strong trout. The Diepspruit is an example, and there are others, like the Willow and the Jochim, all within easy reach. Added to this is the larger Kraai, with rainbows, browns and smallmouth yellowfish. These streams are more dominated by their landscapes, the valleys they flow through, than other streams I know of hereabouts, landscapes that are abundant, almost so splendid you can’t find the words to describe them. You would call these rivers nymphing waters, though one of the best fish I ever had when it came to raw power I took from the Diepspruit on a dry fly, a tiny size 18 Adams. That fish burned line off the reel and in the end I never got to see it, though it left with me the impression of a hooking a swordfish more than a trout! It was the sort of fish that makes you feel you want to go back, just to test yourself, to see what else the water can offer.”
ROCK POOLS & WATERFALLS
In summer late afternoon rains mean that the rivers in Wartrail & New England are flowing with crystal clear water – perfect for relaxing with a riverside picnic. Soak in a refreshing natural mountain jacuzzi and allow the bubbling water to soothe your body and mind. Whilst at the river, you could also try a spot of fly-fishing, bird watching or fossicking for agates. Alternatively you may wish to book a hike with one of our local guides and visit one of the lovely waterfalls in the area. Watching the water cascade down basaltic cliffs and swimming in the crystal water of these pools is an experience to remember.
The Eastern Cape Drakensberg has prolific birdlife with over 230 species recorded – bird lists are available. Specials include the Bearded Vulture (Lammergeier), Cape Vulture, Drakensberg Rock-jumper, Blue Crane, Grey Crowned Crane and the Black Harrier. Climb to the top of high peaks to get an eye to eye view of the numerous raptors, or scour outcrops for Woodpeckers, Rock-jumpers and Rock-thrushes. Mountain streams and thickets attract Tit-babblers, Flycatchers and Warblers, This is one of the few places in South Africa where 8 species of chat can be found. Your hosts will be able to give advice on suitable locations encompassing grasslands, rocky cliffs, riverside meadows and forest to provide maximum sighting opportunities.
When out walking it is possible to come across a group of buck seeking shade in a copse of Ouhoudt trees or watch the exhilarating flight of a buck across the mountainside. Most commonly seen are the Grey Rhebuck, Mountain Reedbuck and Blesbok. Also found are the Duiker and Grysbok.
Other mammals found in the region include lynx, jackal, baboons, mongoose, porcupine and dassies
WILD FLOWERS & GARDENS
Wartrail & New England is well known as an area that has some of the most beautiful gardens, many of which have been featured in Garden and Home magazine over the years. In spring and summer beautiful wild flowers bloom in the mountains, including rare alpine species at higher altitudes. Vegetation from 3 of the biomes is found here, namely: Grassland, Great Karoo and Fynbos. Elsa Pooley’s “Mountain Flowers” is helpful to have when walking in this exceptional montane environment and local guides are available.
In addition to the more extreme mountain hiking trails in the area, each farm can offer gentle walks, suitable for all ages. There is always plenty to see including birds, farm animals, wild flowers, rock art sites, rivers and interesting rock formations.
The scenic districts of Wartrail & New England offer a wealth of shooting opportunities for the keen photographer and several photographic workshops have been hosted in the area. Towering peaks, interesting rock formations, birds, wild flowers and flowing rivers and clear starry nights are all just waiting to be captured through your lens.
Why not pack the bags, grab a picnic and go exploring for the day! Scenic drives around the region’s 8 mountain passes can include lunch stops in the pretty towns or Rhodes and Lady Grey. Stop at the top of the passes for spectacular views. In the winter, your hosts will be able to give you advice as to where your best chance of finding snow might be.
The area’s high altitude and lack of light pollution means that star-gazing here is exceptional, especially in winter months. We can provide star maps to help you find some of the major constellations.
Alternatively, have a few drinks on the terrace and invent a few new patterns of your own! In summer, you can even sleep out under the stars and watch the universe unfold.