WORDS: Riaan Riekert
Early June, bakkie is packed, caravan hooked, and we are ready to enjoy a family weekend at the not so well-known Rocky Drift Private Nature Reserve. But when I say not so well known it does not mean it is not worth a visit; it was an absolute belter of a weekend even with the morning temperature dropping to a freezing minus 1.
Waterval Boven is in the triangle of one of South Africa’s finest fly-fishing areas. Although Rocky Drift is a nature reserve with no fishing, it is central to three of the most famous trout venues in the area. Within a 30km radius you can visit Boven Trout Lodge, Troutways Private retreat and Ntsinini Trout Farm.
Rocky Drift is situated just a few kilometres past Waterval Boven and a 3-hour drive from Johannesburg. My advice is to follow the instructions you will receive via Whatsapp to the point, otherwise you will get lost! Riaan Alleman, lazy as he is, did not read all the instructions – believe me reversing for a kilometre in the dark on a narrow-snaking gravel road with a caravan is not fun and games! Read the Instructions!
With us getting lost the Rocky Drift Reserve managers, Warren and Samantha Llife were getting worried – eventually Warren on his quad bike came to our rescue in the freezing cold. You will read a lot about these two amazing people, and boy – do they have a story to tell. As reserve managers they do a sterling job.
Rocky Drift belongs to Hans and Cheryl Ammon – believe me when I say they are hands on. As a retired contractor Hans never sits still, and seeing all the new projects happening on the farm you just know that this man knows how to work with hands.
On our arrival it was pitch dark but after a warm welcome Warren guided us to our camp spot. In the background you could hear the river and looking up was just amazing – it felt like we could touch the stars. We had fun and games setting up camp in the dark but with the help of the boys we were ready to sit down at the fire, and it was the start to one amazing weekend.
After a good night’s sleep it was time to explore. It was freezing cold but the sight of the mountain with the sun lurking over the top was picture perfect. The boys were also awake, and we took a stroll down to the river known as the Joubert Spruit; here the water is crystal clear – cleaner than any tap or bottled water. The river gets its water from a natural fountain and in all the years has never stopped flowing.
With everyone now awake and breakfast done, we made our way to the cosy entertainment area where we were welcomed by a nice warm fire and the smiles of Warren and Samantha. While the boys were enjoying a game of pool, we had time to get to know Warren and Samantha. They kept us busy for more than an hour, and they have seen it all. Warren was in the jewellery wholesale industry and due to Covid they found themselves at Rocky Drift Private Game Reserve. Warren and Samantha met each other while working in the hospitality industry and hence this formed the background for them to open the restaurant and help to run the reserve.
Hans and Cheryl are good friends with Warren and Samantha and asked them to visit the farm – to make a long story short they are now the managers on the farm and believe me when I say they are super!
Samantha took us for a tour through the self-catering units, varying from 3 to to 8 sleeper units. The units are clean, open and each one with its own built-in fireplace as in winter the weather does get very cold. Hans did most of the work himself and one can see the quality finish all over.
If you are not the chalet type and more of a camper you won’t be disappointed. The camping sites, each with its own tap and power point are all close to the river with the mountain as a backdrop. All the water is direct from the river and is most probably the cleanest I have ever had. The campsites share an excellent ablution block and wash-up area. Thanks to the gas geyser there is no shortage of hot water for a nice shower.
With our backpacks ready we went for a hike on the 3km loop and enjoyed the amazing views and had a lot of fun. There are a few trails to choose from, with the 10km hike to the waterfall which is a sight to be seen; we will leave it for next time. After a fun morning out on the hike, crossing rivers, amazing views and just quality family time we headed back to base camp. We were greeted once again with a cosy fire and settled in with a nice red wine and board games with the boys.
We invited Warren, Samantha, Hans and Cheryl to join us for my famous Riaan Alleman lamb knuckle potjie. While the potjie was doing its thing, I had time to spend some time with Hans. As a contractor he had also to meet several challenges in life, the most recent was when he was diagnosed with throat cancer but even that did not bring this man down. Thankfully he is now in remission. With us he shared his life and his love for his farm, and the time when he stocked the river with trout, but otters had other plans and the trout had only a short time in this lovely clean river.
After a fun filled evening, we were off to bed and unfortunately this was our last night at this amazing farm. Too soon it was early morning and time to get packing and saying our goodbyes. We made friends for life and will most definitely be back in the near future. If you are looking for a springboard to the area’s fly fishing for trout and a cosy, relaxing and fun-filled weekend, Rocky Drift is the place to be.
Info contact: Samantha- 072 245 4961; Bookings- email@example.com;