Coco does Komati

Bridget Hilton-Barber

Coco the Weimaraner dog took a liking to us and decided to hang out at our chalet for the duration of our visit to Komati Gorge Lodge

It’s a beautiful spot in Mpumalanga’s grasslands and wetlands region, near the bizarre little town of Carolina. Comprising a “village” of thatched chalets on the banks of the Komati River, the lodge overlooks a canyon and green grasslands.

Coco is one of the resident dogs at the lodge, which is also a pet-friendly place as it turned out. This wasn’t the reason we were visiting, but plainly was for the people at chalet No 4 who took their mini Daschund breakfasting, walking, quad biking, lunching, napping, fishing, hiking, horse riding, rambling, swimming and braaiing.

We were too hot and tired, to do much on our first afternoon except hang on our balcony, watching the Daschund and its owners expending enough energy to power the national grid. I must say, I’ve never really thought much about the pet-friendly thing, but I guess it’s quite sweet if it’s for decent suburbanites who can’t leave home without their Daschunds, rather than Lowveld cowboys  who want to go drinking with their pet eland for instance.

Komati Lodge. Picture: Bridget Hilton-Barber
Komati Gorge Lodge. Picture: Bridget Hilton-Barber

And pet or no pet, the views at Komati Gorge are amazing. From our chalet we looked onto a sweep of green lawn, a trout dam, a frisky stretch of the Komati River and a shoulder of canyon in the distance, set about with fat painterly clouds. Such views call for a whisky. Which then called for adventure. So we went for a sunset ramble alongside the Komati River, admiring the resident horses and gorgeous surroundings as we rambled. We lay alongside one of the trout dams for a while, watching upside down canyons and the trout beginning their sunset frolic.  As the orange skies darkened, Coco led us gently back to our chalet for more whisky and fresh horses for our men as they say.

The chalets are simple and comfortable, with pleasant décor, a generous bathroom and fireplace in the main bedroom lounge area. Mmmm. I can well imagine cosy winter evenings here. We chose to do our own cooking, but there is a restaurant, as well as a generous bar and outside entertainment area along the river. Komati Gorge is a chilled spot. There’s no cell phone reception, and the place is big enough to feel wild and free and small enough to feel safe. After dinner we sat outside listening to the night noises, while Coco found herself an elegant scatter cushion on which to spend the night.

Our chalet at Komati Gorge Lodge. Picture: Bridget Hilton-Barber

The dawn broke crisp and clear and we headed out for an early walk into the mountains. The Komati lodge people had asked us not walk with their dogs, but it’s hard to restrain an enthusiastic unleashed Weimaraner, so we eventually we gave in and pretended not to notice when she tried to dig up entire koppies and chase kudus. There are really great hikes in and around Komati Gorge, this being canyon country with kloofs and cliffs, dizzying views and shady forested patches. The birding is good, and the botanizing; and of course trout fishing, which is what most visitors do. You can also go swimming, quad biking and horse riding or just sit down and wait for the feeling to pass. It’s a lovely spot whatever your pace.