I didn’t think we’d be tackling sub-zero temps on this trip so I’m gonna need a jacket. We head into the city center to see what’s available. Looks dead. Well, there is a fishing shop called Wild Fly. That might work. We jump some puddles and bound up the steps in the rain to the front door. Yep, it’s open. Walk in and there are two guys in the front who look surprised to have customers.
We go in and see what they’ve got. I ask about jackets and one of the guys points me to two sections that I may be interested in. “Take it you’re not from around here?”, “Nope didn’t know we were going to Lesotho so need a jacket now”, “You heading up the Sani Pass? What are you driving?”, “A piece of shit VW Polo”, the two guys exchange a funny glance, “Don’t recommend doing Sani Pass without 4 wheel drive”, “Yeah, I wouldn’t go up there in that.” They tell us that there are rental companies at the pass that can take you up and back. That could be the way to go.
This Wild Fly coat will probably do. Yep. Get the jacket and a touque and gloves to go with it. Heard the nights are cold in Namibia too so might as well get all set up.
The Wild Fly Guys call the Sani Pass lodge to see what the weather is like. Yep snow in the pass. Might even be closed soon if this keeps up. They tell us to keep an eye on it. We ask about Hawklee Lodge and they give us some directions. It’s on a dirt road, they give us some signs to look out for. Can be some sharp rocks too so be careful, it would suck to be fiddling with tires out in this mess. Nice fellas. They tell us that this is a huge fishing area and that there are multiple events here throughout the year. We thank them for the help and advice and head back out into the rain.
We find the right road out of town. Beautiful countryside here. There’s a fog rolling down beneath the plateau towards Lethoso so thick that you can’t even see the country behind it. The sun starts going down, the colors just visible under the cloud bank and fog.
May our steed be trusty
Sure enough we hit a dirt road with sharp rocks while we’re looking for the lodge. This place better be down here.
We follow the signs that the Wild Fly Guys told us to look for and after a while down the road we find our destination: Hawklee Lodge.
Rad place, Trogdor would have a field day with these thatched roof cottages
We head inside and ring a little bell. “Hey, howzit guys!”, a large, jolly looking fella comes right over and gives us a hardy handshake. His name is Dean. His petite wife, Belinda, comes out as well. “So you guys just booked online, eh?”, “Yep, that’s us”, “Lucky, there was a cancellation and you got our last room”, “Nice!”
We meet a short legged Corgy named Tigre too. Dean tells us that this place is a nature reserve and there are monkeys and bucks here. “Keep windows closed if you leave the cabins. Monkeys may come in and steal stuff.”
We get all squared away and they give us a key and a little tour. There’s breakfast in the morning and there’s a little bar in the back too. “Alright then, guys. You’re in the Otter Cottage just down the lane. Get settled and we’ll catch up with you in a little while.”
Well they couldn’t be nicer and this lodge is amazing. Worked out perfect.
We go down the lane passed a couple of cottages and hear a funny honking sound. Oh, it’s four geese coming right towards us. They get quiet once they come close to us but their waddle inertia is un-phased and they go by without a care for our presence.
Ahh here we are at Otter Cottage. Wow, this place is beautiful. A river runs just below our cottage and through the trees. It looks like there may be a pitch and putt course over in the distance too.
Lovely interior and bathroom. This spot is a score.
We drop our stuff in the room and settle in with a beer on our stoop looking down at the river while the sun starts to set. Gorgeous. “Wanna take Dean up on that drink in the chalet?”, “You know it.”
We pass by the geese again on the way back to the lodge. They’re hanging in a little pool not far from our cottage. Cute stuff.
“Everything to your liking, guys?”, “Oh yeah, this place is beautiful. We were thinking we’d grab that beer”, “Of course, of course. Follow me.”
The back ‘chalet’ is a round room with a tall thatched roof. Various SA team decorations, jenga, puzzles, campy signage and a collection of standard alcohols. We ask Dean what he’d recommend and he says we should try the Windhoek Draught, it’s the most popular beer in the area. “Like the capital of Namibia, Windhoek?”, “Precisely!”
Dean is an excellent host. Easy to talk to, tons of info and super interested in where we’re from and what we’re doing. We tell him we don’t really have a plan, per se, but we only have 3 days to get to Cape Town and are leaning towards Lethoso and The Garden Route on the way. “Oh yes, that’s brilliant”, he runs through a number of routes that all sound good. “What you could do is go to Underburg and catch a four-by up the pass and back. Tomorrow stay in Coffee Bay. Could stay in Port Elizabeth after that and start the Garden Route to Cape Town the next morning. Or cut out the pass and go to Durban instead?”
We get Dean to put on the England vs Belgium third place playoffs. Klippies and Coke? Might as well. England can’t finish and Hazaad is too good. He turns and pushes forward quickly and keeps creating a man advantage. Sorry Peter, they’re outmatched and lose 2-0. Another Klippies sounds good
Dean got this place about 7 years ago. Took it over. He says it wasn’t exactly what they expected but it’s been good. Put a lot of work in and it’s fairly easily sustained now. They’ll take a week off, close the place down and go on vacation. “We love our country, great place for travelling.”
He also tells us there is lots of fishing. Competitions in the river and dam fishing. Massive quantity, size and diversity of fish. It’s all sponsored by Wild Fly. Oh yeah, I’ve got the touque and jacket haha.
He says the lodge gets a lot of customers during the fishing events. “I like things with feet and hooves though”, “I hear ya, but that’s cuz I’m allergic to fish.”
Belinda comes in to say hi as well. “Oh don’t you look comfortable. It’s a comfortable room. It is very popular, I must add. It sometimes gives us trouble and I tell Dean I’m gonna turn it into a chapel”, “Well we’ll try to keep it down”, “Oh no, you guys are just fine. Make yourselves at home.”
I head back to the cottage to grab the laptop to look up options for our route. I can hear the river running below in the darkness. It’s about zero degrees so I’m glad for the new coat. This place is amazingly peaceful and we’re having a super relaxed evening in the chalet with a few drinks. It really is the best. Feels great to be on the road and find a spot like this to have to ourselves and just unwind a bit.
After a while Dean comes back in, “So have you guys made some decisions on tomorrow?”, “No, not really”, “Ah, you’re so chill. That’s the way, eh? Wherever life takes you”, “Yeah, things have a way of working out”, “Or not, haha. It doesn’t much matter.”
We’re joined by Buddy the cat and soon another dog named Natasha.
“Oh, you’ll have to look out for porcupines on the roads. They call them iron pigs. It’s like an iron block. It will destroy whatever vehicle you’re in.” Ok, good to know.
Funny sign on the way to the bathroom
We stay up with a few more Klippies and Cokes, lazily looking into things between here and Cape Town on the compy but not really making any concrete decisions. We’re slumped in our chairs just shooting the shit and feeling real relaxed.
Dean has been gone for a bit, maybe he’s gone to bed? Shit, how do we pay for our 5 Brandy and whatever beer we had? Guess we’ll leave him a note. Search around the place for paper and a pen. Ok, now we’re just drunks snooping around the lodge in the dark rustling shit. We’ll just tell him in the morning.
We get back to the Otter Cottage and hit the hay. Too bad we didn’t have more time here, this place is fantastic. Ooooh and this is the most comfortable bed so faaaaaarzzzzzz