The old outspan spot at the top of Hell’s Kloof Pass, a treacherously steep wagon route, has had a modern makeover. Once a rundown stone house on a farm that belonged to Paul Kruger, last president of the old Boer republic, Five Assegais Country Estate near Machadodorp is now a luxurious fishing lodge and weekend hideaway.
Owner Francis Darvall has reintroduced wildlife to the 1 500-hectare conservancy and zebra and antelope graze alongside his Nguni cattle. Four large dams are stocked with rainbow, brown and golden trout to tease guests keen to practise the art of catch-and-release fly-fishing. You can choose between a self-catering, four-star fishing lodge (sleeps eight) or camping in electrified or solar-powered huts with views over Bankspruit Gorge and its waterfall. The Aloe Kaya huts (electrified) sleep eight guests in each and have unique loos with a view.
Walks through rocky gorges and along the edge of the escarpment are enticing. Waterfalls plummet over the edge in a number of places, including Uitkomste Falls, which is among the highest in Mpumalanga, and bird life is abundant in forest kloofs and open grasslands. The 50-kilometre network of self-guided trails range from half-day strolls to the Hell’s Bells one-day hike and the more strenuous five-day Num-Num Trail across three properties. The latter has a Green Flag rating from the South African Hiking Trail Owners Association.
Five Assegais Country Estate
Camping is R170 a person a night and DB&B is from R500 a person a night sharing. The self-catering lodge is from R2 500 a night (max eight).