The Wild Trout Association (WTA) is based at Walkerbouts Inn Rhodes where beats can be booked and day permits purchased by visiting fly fishers, currently at R150,00/rod/day. Beats are sold on a first-come first-served basis but can also be booked in advance at the risk of inclement weather rendering the beat/s booked unfishable. The bottom-line is that one must be flexible and go where the water is fishable at the time.
Bokspruit / Riflespruit drive
- A morning drive up the Bokspruit or Riflespruit valleys is a feast for the eyes and is +-60km or two hours in duration excluding "Kodak moments".
- From Rhodes, +-8km on the road to Barkly East, the first turnoff to the right is the entrance to this special valley. Continue until reaching the bridge at the Bell River. Cross and continue until reaching the first gate that signifies the end of the public thoroughfare. Rock art sites can also be visited by prior arrangement.
Naudesnek Pass - Mooidraai
- 30km or an hour's drive from Rhodes, Mooidraai is located less than 1km from the top of Naudesnek Pass. On a clear day, the view is spectacular and legend has it that one can see the sea from there on a very clear day.
Rhodes Village Biking Trails: Stitching the Dragon's Tail
The advent of sophisticated and capable on/off road motorcycles has given rise to a new kind of traveller, the "adventure-tourist". Collecting mountain passes is an avid pursuit of these riders. A cursory glance at survey maps reveal that the Drakensberg range starts in the vicinity of the Barkly Pass on the R58 between Barkly East and Elliott. Making these (routes) passes even more attractive routes for the adventure tourer is the fact that only the Barkly and Kraai River Passes are tarred. Another positive for the city dweller is that these roads carry relatively little traffic.
Being located in the southernmost section of the Drakensberg range, Rhodes is central to a number of mountain passes and is 60km from the nearest asphalt surface. Other roads in the area are gravelled of which some are well maintained whilst others are more challenging. The Naudesnek Pass on the R396 between Rhodes and Maclear, at more than 2500m, is the highest altitude pass in South Africa . Some 50 km to the south of Rhodes is the lesser known " Bastervoetpad Pass ", an absolute gem.
Slightly further south one finds the Barkly Pass. Others within easy reach are the Carlisleshoek and Bidstone Passes which access the Tiffindell Ski Resort from the south and western sides. Slightly further to the west is the Lundeansnek Pass on the R393 to the Sterkspruit/Herschell district. The nearest border post into Lesotho at Telle Bridge is accessed along this road. Joubert's Pass, a detour from the R58 at Lady Grey joins the R58 again between Lady Grey and Barkly East shortly before the Kraai River Pass. Other less spectacular passes in the area are the Bottelnek and Espachsberg Passes . The scenery nevertheless makes any of these routes well worth travelling.
4 x 4 Trails of the Eastern Cape Highlands
There are a number of routes in the area that range from a few hours to full day outings on public thoroughfares that have gravel surfaces, the condition of which varies widely. Depending on the route taken, some can include short stretches of tar. The nature of the terrain is such that mountain passes abound, the most famous of which is the Naudesnek Pass , which, at 2500m above sea-level, is the highest in the country. Arguably the most scenic is the Bastervoetpad Pass which emerges onto tar near Ugie. From there, it's not too far to Elliot and the tarred Barkly Pass to Barkly East but en route to Barkly, take the "Bottlenek" turnoff and you'll find yourself in the Sterkspruit valley. Left to Moshesh's Ford and right to Rhodes, a night rest and set for the next days outing, perhaps to Lundeansnek via Tiffindell?
Rock art & Bushman Paintings
Rock art abounds in sandstone valleys of the Highlands and in the Bell River catchment some of the most well known and best preserved in Southern Africa are the images at Martindell in the Maartenshoek valley. The sites can be visited by prior arrangement with a guide as no-one allows unaccompanied visits. Detailed information on the sites can be obtained from a recent publication by David Lewis-Williams and Geoffrey Blundell entitled "Fragile Heritage" published by the Witwatersrand University Press.
Running: Rhodes Trail Race
The oldest of these is the Rhodes Trail Race. This is a 52km event held in the heart of winter which starts and ends in the village but in the course of which reaches an altitude of 2666m above sea-level!. Runners participate by invitation only and the field is limited to 300 entrants due to safety considerations due to the inhospitable terrain through which sections of the route pass. For a runners view of things this year, use the URL below!
Fishing: The Wild Trout Festival
The Festival is not a competition but a veritable celebration of the art and essence of fly fishing. Like-minded folk gather in Rhodes in early to mid-autumn each year and spend 3 days fishing and 4 nights talking about fishing, amongst other topics and enjoying the sponsor's product. This, of course, gives rise to even more fishy stories. For more information on fly fishing in the area see www.wildtrout.co.za
The Rhodes Stoepsitfees:
Winter is over and preparations are underway to ensure the success of the 2015 Rhodes Stoepsitfees that will be held from the 11th to the 15th February 2015.
This will be the third Stoepsitfees since the inaugural event in 2013. It is the first and only festival in South Africa and arguably the entire world that celebrates the age old rural custom of Stoepsitting. Passing the time of day as highlighted by a SATV soapie called “Korporasie Stories”. For those that can remember the show, Genis and company would “Ag ja” … “Ja-nee” and “Ag Ja-nee” for hours on end!
On checking in at the Rhodes Stoepsitfees Customs Post, participants receive a “goodie bag” that amongst other things, includes an event guidebook. This has a list of the stoepe, what is on offer at each stoep and Google Earth maps showing the location of the venues. A Rhodes Passport is also part of the goodie bag contents. Each participating Stoep has a rubber stamp to “tjap” the bearer’s passport. By the end of the event, the passport should be “vol ge-tjap”.
Laid-back enjoyment is the bottom line where participants meander from stoep to stoep according to their preferences, albeit on the “arty” side visiting local artist’s studios or visiting “tee-stoepe” where residents and visitors get to meet over a “cuppa”. Local crafters goods on sale range from homespun woollen products to etchings to pottery to paper-mache products to art-works. The non-commercial stoeps close in the evenings thus allowing Stoepsitters to sit back and braai the very best chops and wors in the country from grass-fed stock. Better still, lay in a stock to take home and enjoy “back in the bright lights”, a good way of being reminded of great evenings in Rhodes. In fact, fine local products is why Rhodes was one of the venues selected for filming during the 2013 series of the Ultimate Braaimaster programme!
In the course of the village perambulations, you will surely come across Tannie Petro’s koeksusters. These delicious traditional treats are absolutely legendary and great for rounding off a “lekker braai”.
Pizzas at Walkerbouts are legendary and were even accorded an accolade by a regular Canadian visitor who expressed the view that he had enjoyed pizzas all over the world but could not decide where he had had the best one. He clarified this by saying that he could not decide whether it was the Walkerbouts version or the ones he made for himself at home!
Great food, great company and fine rural hospitality are hallmarks of the Rhodes Stoepsitfees that also has a charitable aspect. Each participating stoep has a supply of wool and needles kindly sponsored by Saprotex International, spinners of fine knitting yarns. Knitters are encouraged to produce 20cm by 20cm squares. These are then sewn together to make blankets for the needy. Then comes the twist. Instead of handing over a handful of blankets, 2 in 2013 and 5 in 2014, the blankets are sold by auction after the Rhodes Stoepsitfees. The auction forms part of the Epson wild Trout Association Fly Fishing Festival held in March each year. The proceeds from the blanket auctions are used to buy more blankets, 16 in 2013 and 36 in 2014 thereby helping more people ward of the Rhodes winter chill.
It is hoped that the 2015 event will see even more blanket squares being knitted raising funds for even more blankets for the needy in the community. The 2013 event beneficiaries were the aged ranging from 72 to 94 years of age and the 2014 recipients were Aids-orphans.
What has become apparent is that the Rhodes Stoepsitfees provides the best of both worlds to couples where “Ma” does the Stoepsitting rounds while “Pa” goes fly fishing, there being more than 200km of running water around Rhodes that can be fished by arrangement through the Wild Trout Association, www.wildtrout.co.za
Apart from the knitting, there are no formal arrangements. The Rhodes Stoepsitfees allows participants and residents to mix and mingle at leisure, sharing the ambience of a special place, a village almost lost in time where police sirens are rarely heard and bird calls are the wake-up song in the mornings. It is indeed an opportunity to meet Rhodes residents whose rural way of life is a unique lifestyle very far from the madding crowds and urban living where neighbours don’t even know each other.
In fact, the last event saw the return of many participants from the inaugural event in 2013 who had made new friends and returned to renew these ongoing friendships. Fun and laughter, enjoyment and “lekker-kuier” are all the hall-marks of the Rhodes Stoepsitfees. A journey back in time in a Victorian village that is one-of-a-kind in RSA.
Under the watchful eye of old signs, resident potter, Irene Walker offers pottery and ceramic sculpture lessons at the Clay Cafe, her studio near Walkerbouts Inn - Rhodes.
The cylindrical Raku kiln shown above in action with covered firing pit in the foreground.
Redhot pottery articles being removed from the kiln and placed in the sawdust-lined firing pit
Finshed products with typical Raku "crazing" finish.
Walkerbouts Prairie Oysters
Walkerbouts Prairie oysters (aka lamb frys, lambs testicles, lambs balls) with samp
- One well disposed sheep farmer
- Flock of sheep
- Sharp lamb castrating knife
- Etc, etc
- Large packet of raw "oysters"
- Salt or Kikkoman soy sauce or Mutton cube/s or combination of all
- Black pepper
- Red wine – to be liberally tasted by the cook and used sparingly as an ingredient
- Italian flat leafed parsley