Kamberg Nature Reserve, located in the foothills of the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park, was once regarded the meca of KwaZulu-Natal fly fishing with big fish being caught often, five well maintained dams, a good stretch of the Mooi River and their own hatchery. Sadly things have changed slightly and the hatchery has long since been closed. The previous offer of five dams has also been reduced and they now maintain and stock only two of the dams on the reserve.
That said the fishing in these two dams is still decent and the dams are well maintained. They seem to be stocked fairly frequently and as a result a lot of stockies are on offer which is great for the beginner fly fisherman wanting to catch fish. The grass is also regularly mowed around the water’s edge (and several jetties are provided) making casting easy and this a good venue for those new to the sport.
Sadly no float tubes are allowed onto the Kamberg waters. That said there is more than enough bank to not worry about this.
The top dam (Eland) also has toilets, a weigh station and several thatch gazebos for people to picnic under during the day, something which not all waters offer, and that can be a blessing in the mid-day heat.
The stretch of Mooi River on offer is certainly stunning and contains a good population of wild Brown Trout. There seem to be two distinct beats, namely from the picnic sight at the entrance up to either the dams or hatchery, and then from the hatchery upwards.
I’ve only ever fished the bottom beat and have to say it’s rather technical. There are a lot of long shallow runs devoid of rapids meaning the fisherman needs to be highly stealthy to avoid spooking the fish. There is also thick vegetation on both banks meaning one needs to be a good caster to avoid the frustration of losing a box worth of flies. This stretch also contains a lot of large pools which are too deep to wade, thus forcing the angler out of the water and through the bush.
Kamberg Nature Reserve is located roughly 50kms from Nottingham Road, and 180kms from Durban, with the final 10kms being on dirt. The condition of the road is good and is easily passible in a normal car even when there’s been a lot of rain.
The accommodation on offer is one six bed chalet, one five bed chalet and five two bed chalets. Although they’ve been around for quite some time they’re well maintained, clean and the two bed chalets have been recently upgraded to contain a bathroom and kitchenette. There is also apparently a communal lounge on offer but I’ve not visited it myself and can therefore not comment.
For those wishing to get away from the normal camp for some peace and quiet Kamberg also offers the self-catering Stillerus cottage which accommodates 8 guests.
Sadly there are no camping facilities available but there are a couple of picnic spots for day visitors if you find the accommodation a little expensive.
Other than accommodation the camp offers a curio shop, a small shop with limited supplies and a coffee shop/take away which, as far as I know, only operates during the day.
And finally, for those not wishing to fish (and for all the fisherman’s wives), there is more than enough to do besides wetting a line. Kamberg offers a beautiful guided walk to some of the best San rock art (Bushman paintings) in the area. There are also several self-guided walks as well as a wheelchair friendly walk along the Mooi River. It’s not uncommon to come across Eland and other small game on these walks. There is also an abundance of birdlife for the avid birders.
Up to date prices are available on the Kzn Wildlife website (http://www.kznwildlife.com) but at the time of writing a two bed chalet was going for R495 per night, entrance into the park was R30 for adults and R15 for children, and a rod permit was R90 for day visitors and R70 those spending the night.
This may not be the Kamberg of old but it still offers decent fishing in easy conditions which is perfect for beginners. More experienced anglers need not skip this venue as they have the option of tackling the river should they prefer some more technical fishing. And to top it all off the accommodation is clean and well maintained at a competitive price. We’d certainly recommend Kamberg for fly fisherman of all skill levels.
– By Warren Prior