Stonecutters Blog

Flyfishing in the Mpumalanga Highlands is very rewarding in Winter

Posted by Margi Butler on May 24, 2012 9:22:00 PM

River fishing stonecutters lodge dullstroomAs temperatures drop in the Highlands area of Dullstroom and Lydenburg, so the excitement levels of anglers rise! As mentioned in the Fosaf Guide to Flyfishing there are five rivers in this area that have traditionally been earmarked for trout, - the Klip, Waterval, Spekboom, Sterkspruit and the Dorps. There are numerous trout lodges in the area that offer both dam and river fishing, ranging from rustic to luxurious and now is the time for the fly-fisherman from Gauteng to head for the Mpumalanga Highlands to hone his skills in ideal conditions.

In still water the warmer summer months have seen sluggish feeding as trout head for the comfort of the cooler depths but lower Autumn water temperatures cause a resurgence of feeding activity as trout endeavour to pack on weight for the coming winter months.

 Trout fishing DullstroomWhereas in summer, fishing at first light produces the best chance of a catch, in the cooler Autumn weather trout will feed throughout the day, especially in overcast conditions. Even the enthusiastic angler may take advantage of the opportunity of rising a little later while still enjoying a productive day’s fishing! Aquatic plants will be dying back and insects will be less plentiful, but there are enough bugs around to stimulate activity and the muddy river conditions of summer are now giving way to gin-clear water.

In many dams in this area trout go through an abortive spawning ritual just at the onset of winter. The fish are in magnificent breeding colour but for a period of about three weeks are more interested in the mating game than in feeding, but may take egg-pattern flies or take flies with a flash of red simply out of aggression.

During the colder winter months the water temperature is still mild enough for some insect activity and particularly on sunny winter days fish may be enticed into feeding. Floating and intermediate lines are the order of the day.

Read a recent fishing report by Louis Munnick on fishing the Dorps River.

Suggested reading: Fosaf Guide to Flyfishing Destinations in Southern Africa.

This beautifully illustrated book is a ‘must have’ for the South African flyfisherman and is much more than a venue guide, with comprehensive chapters on types of fish, techniques and tackle.

Tags: Dullstoom, trout fishing, Fly fishing in Dullstroom, Dullstroom Trout Fishing, Stonecutters Lodge, accommodation in Dullstroom, River fishing near Dullstroom, Accommodation with fishing, Mpumalanga flyfishing

Job creation in Mpumalanga- is everyones responsibility.

Posted by Margi Butler on Nov 23, 2011 8:41:00 PM

stonecutters lodge dullstroom, lydenburg

Stonecutters Lodge between Dullstroom & Lydenburg in Mpumalanga supports the  entrepreneurial projects of the local rural community 

The plight of the rural community close to Stonecutters Lodge is a story that is played out in communities throughout South Africa. A large percentage of the community is jobless and many will never be employed. The lodge plays an active part in uplifting the local disadvantaged community in the rural village of Emshinini on Coromandel Estate. Most of our staff are drawn from this village and we take an active interest in the welfare of our staff both past and present: food hampers are delivered monthly to the homes of our staff and we also contribute to other households whom we know to be in need.

Coromandel primary school, LydenburgWe have a close involvement with the primary school and every year we attend the year-end prize-giving and donate prizes for the children who receive dictionaries, calculators and stationery. Through our efforts Massmart has donated school backpacks filled with stationery, we have sourced a donation of a load of Bibles for the church and we have collected clothes to be handed out to the needy. But jobs, rather than hand-outs remain the priority and the encouragement of entrepreneurial skills is paramount. When sourcing new uniforms for our female staff last month, we were thrilled to learn of a competent seamstress in Emshinini.

Stonecutters Lodge staff Dullstroom, Lydenburg   use local south african suppliers   buy local south african products

Using last year’s caftan blouse as a pattern, Flora made 10 beautiful tops out of the African themed local print we had bought. She has a good sewing machine and an overlocker and produced a most professional product at the same rate that we would have paid locally in Lydenburg.

In the same vein, some time ago we realized that Mathayi Mgiba who lives on the hillside opposite Stonecutters has some wood-carving skills. We nurtured his talent , buying him materials and books on bead work and wirework.

We regularly supply him with our recycled beverage cans and bottle tops which he transforms into geckos, job creation in Mpumalanga, South Africawire pictures and other items!He has been producing and selling for some years now and we are hoping that the new Workshop Gallery we are launching at Stonecutters will give Mathayi an additional outlet. This gallery had its birth in an artgroup which we have formed with like-minded amateur artists in our area. We meet on a weekly basis and this new creative space is a studio and gallery: we will be participating in the Art Meander which forms part of the Dullstroom Art Festival which takes place from the 16-18 December.

Stonecutters Lodge is a Proudly South African Company and as such is only too pleased to support the local rural community as we are among the few who have taken an interest in the plight of these villagers and we have a close connection with their daily struggles. It is so easy to purchase from a cheaper, overseas source but next time your business needs something -look around for the local option which impacts job creation in South Africa positively!

Tags: proudly South African, support local initiatives in south africa, Stonecutters Lodge

Mountain Biking routes near Dullstroom, Mpumalanga

Posted by Margi Butler on Nov 21, 2011 4:00:00 PM



The Mpumalanga Highlands have some of the best scenery in South Africa and if you enjoy mountain biking you should try some of the local trails near Dullstroom. Some local off-Dullstroom MTB locals-rides

Dullstroom to Tonteldoos & back: A total of 46 km on dirt road with very little traffic and very safe. Climb to 2150m soon after leaving Dullstroom. There are a few climbs along the way but the route gradually drops to 1800m. You will pass numerous trout fishing syndicates and stunning farms. A midway break can be found at Pendlehill Dairy / Cheese Farm & Restaurant, a good point to reload your carbs and protein naturally. The return trip is back along the same road with a lot more climbing!

Kruisfontein Loop – Short:43 km in total predominantly on dirt road with 14km of tar included. This route can be done clockwise (Hardcore) or anti-clockwise (Wannabe). The Hardcore option starts in Dullstroom, heads out on the Belfast road, turns left @ Birds of Prey Centre onto the Kruisfontein rd, continue down the Kruisfontein road passing private trout syndicates and 3 Estate developments before turning left @ aprox 23 km @ the Morgonzon sign – at this point you dropped from 2050m in Dullstroom to 1750m. From hear you climb for 10 km up the escarpment past Wickhams Country Retreat (remember to look back and enjoy stunning views over the escarpment and down into the Kwena Basin at the top of the Wickhams climb), the ride eases off after the Wickhams climb (be warned this is a serious climb) with a few more climbs and drops for about 9 km before reaching the Lydenburg rd, turn left onto the tar back to Dullstroom.
The Wannabe route is done in the opposite direction and is easier but has the same amount of total climb. Be careful of the Wickhams decent. It is very steep and very rocky.

T6 Tonteldoos – De Berg Ring Road:
75 km in total, predominantly dirt road plus a portion of tar. Start in Dullstroom @ 2050m and head out on the Tonteldoos road climbing to 2150m, descend to Tonteldoos @ 1800m, pass Tonteldoos and continue round on the Rossenekal / Lydenburg / Stoffberg – tar rd climbing to 2256 m before turning right onto the De Berg – Nederhorst – dirt rd. At this point you are close to the highest point –De Berg - on the Steenkampsberg - the highest point in the old Transvaal Province @ 2331m and the highest tar road in South Africa @ 2256m (extremely good chance of snow in winter after cold fronts have hit). From here you ride along a stunning ridge @ 2200m with breathtaking views to your left and right before descending as you pass Veloren Valei (declared a Ramsar Site), down the pass, along the De Berg rd past magnificent farms with a final fast decent to the Lydenburg road. Turn right just before crossing the railway line and ride along next to the railway line on a jeep track. Route can be done either way. Not for the unfit!!

Kruisfontein / Machadodorp Ring Road:
33km in total on predominantly dirt road with 11km of tar. Start in Dullstroom; continue for 9km along the Belfast rd, turn left @ Elandskloof sign. Continue to the Valeispruit sign, turn left, ride along a very quite farm road before descending to the Kruisfontein rd, turn left onto the Kruisfontein rd straight into a good climb. Drop down to the Crocodile River with a few more climbs, reaching the tar road @ Birds of Prey Centre, turn right onto the tar and ride back into Dullstroom.

Railway Track:
Start in Dullstroom head for the Dullstroom Dam / Caravan Park, turn left just before the caravan park entrance, up the hill, turn right just before the railway track and follow the jeep track next to the railway line. Ride along next to the railway track on a jeep track past rolling hills and valleys, cross over the De Berg rd and continue up to as far as Santa Farm, which is just after Walkersons Country Estate. The return trip is along the same route.

De Berg Rd & back:
Up to 42 km of predominantly dirt road with about 8km of jeep track – Start in Dullstroom head for the Dullstroom Dam / Caravan Park, turn left just before the caravan park entrance, up the hill, turn right just before the railway track and follow jeep track next to the railway line to the De Berg rd, turn left onto De Berg rd & decide how far you want to go before turning round and returning to follow the jeep track back into Dullstroom. This route will take you past the Dullstroom Nature Reserve along the De Berg rd, which is lined by stunning farms and endless vistas of unspoilt Sub-alpine grasslands. Just before ascending a steep hill you will cross the Lynsklip River, a few dams on your right and, as you climb the hill, pass Veloren Valei on your left. Keep an eye out for Blue & Crowned Crane, Baldheaded Ibis and a variety of Raptors. There is a Quartz Crystal pit just before you reach the top of the hill on your left. As you descend down the other side of the climb you will pass a wetland area, in Veloren Valei that is home to a variety of rare endemic ground orchids.

Elandskloof, Winnaarspoort & Kloppenheim:
76 km in total predominantly on dirt road with 12 km of tar. Start in Dullstroom, head out on the Belfast rd for 9 km, turn left onto the Elandskloof dirt road continue for 13 km, turn left. Continue for 7 km before turning right. En route pass to 2 radio towers (Mareskop 2020m - at this point you will be able to enjoy an amazing view from the edges of the escarpment and down into the Kwena Basin) and enjoy a fast descent into a neck where you will turn right. Continue down through a stunning farm and Bluegum tree plantations, pass old farm buildings, a luxurious lodge and after 5 km reach a T-junction at Winnaarspoort. Turn right and follow for 4.5km, Machadodorp town and refinery can be clearly seen on your left. Ride until reaching a sign that indicates Dullstroom, turn right and continue up through an avenue of old trees and an old farmhouse. Ride along next to a crystal clear stream, up a steep rocky pass until after 7.5 km you get to the same crossing where you turned left up to the radio towers – continue straight back along the road for 7 km. Turn right onto the Valeispruit rd. 4 km along this road you will cross the Crocodile River. Continue another 3km before reaching the Kruisfontein rd after a fast decent. Turn left and onto the Kruisfontein rd straight into a good climb. Drop down to the Crocodile River with a few more climbs, reaching the tar road @ Birds of Prey Centre, turn right onto the tar and ride back into Dullstroom.

If you want to stay in the area consider staying at Stonecutters Lodge midway between Dullstroom & Lydenburg and conveniently situated for mountain biking routes in the area.


Tags: Mountain biking mpumalanga, Mountain biking Dullstroom, mountain biking Lydenburg

Mountain Biking routes near Dullstroom & Lydenburg, Mpumalanga

Posted by Margi Butler on Nov 17, 2011 1:17:00 PM


Mountain biking routes in Mpumalanga

The Gustav Klingbiel Reserves is close to Lydenburg and the Long Tom Pass in Mpumalanga.  The pass  from its summit drops 1100m over 8kms in dramatic curves- this sets the scenery for mountain bikers and one can expect to experience the following terrains: thornveld & bushveld on the low-lying areas, montane grassland on hills and plateaus and little pockets of mountain forest in the ravines. The Klipgatspruit carves a deep valley through the mountains Buck and game are plentiful. Newly laid out mountain bike routes were recently added. Route Map

There are a few routes to follow the shortest being the Pedi-Route (5km long) and the longest being the Ribbok trail (20km) The Crane route is 9km and the Protea Route is 12kms.

The 20 km routes comprise a circular track which has some very difficult and technically challenging parts and some hair raising downhill single tracks.

There are also easy routes for children and those just staring out in this exhilerating sport!

The Klipgatspruit carves a deep valley through the mountains.  Game are plentiful and include Eland, Zebra, Kudu, Impala, Blue Wilderbeest, Oribi, Grey Rheebuck, reedbuck, Blesbuck, and Bushbuck.For the bird enthusiast there are more than 200 birds in the area. The park IS very scenic and it is really worthwhile to pack a camera.

Nature reserve near Lydenburg, Mpumalanga

Archaeological ruins that date back to the iron age and remnants of Anglo-Boer forts lie in this park and the musem inside the park has examples of the iron age dating back to the 6th century including the famous Lydenburg heads.

The entrance fee to the park is R10 per biker or hiker.

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Tags: Mountain biking mpumalanga, Mountain biking Dullstroom, mountain biking Lydenburg

Nature Reserves in Mpumalanga that offer something different!

Posted by Margi Butler on Nov 12, 2011 2:18:00 PM

There are many national parks and reserves throughout South Africa but it is the smaller lesser known ones that often offer the visitor something over and above the "Big Five". Special wild flowers or birds, areas to hike, walk, mountainbike and explore without the worry of getting malaria or being eaten by a big cat!

In Mpumalanga within a short driving distance from Stonecutters Lodge you can visit the following day visitor parks.

Dullstroom Nature reserve wattled crane

Dullstroom & Verloren Vallei Nature Reserve,which has a cool, misty, sub-alpine climate, with moist grasslands.The cold, clear rivers feed the marshlands, the most important being Verloren Vallei which is also a RAMSAR site with over 30 wetlands. All three of South African rare species of crane live here. Over 200 wild flower species flourish around Dullstroom - and nuturalists will revel in the aloes, pink gladioli,orchids, tree ferns, red fire lilies and other amazing plants species.


nature reserve near LydenburgThe Gustav Klingbiel and Sterkspruit Reserves are close to Lydenburg. These reserves lie close to the Long Tom Pass which from its summit drops 1100m over 8kms in dramatic curves- this sets the scenery hikers, walkers, mountain bikers and birdwatches can expect on walks and trails within these reserves. Thornveld & bushveld on the low-lying areas, montane grassland on hills and plateaus and little pockets of mountain forest in the ravines ensure scintilating birding. The Klipgatspruit carves a deep valley through the mountains Buck and game are plentiful. Archaeological ruins that date back to the iron age and remnants of Anglo-Boer forts lie in this park. The museum houses the famous Lydenburg heads dating back to the sixth century, unearthed in the Sterkspruit valley. Route Map showing mountain biking, hiking, walking and bird watching routes in Gustav Klingbiel Nature Reserve.

Lydenburg nature reservesOhrigstad Dam and Nature Reserve: The foothills of the Mauchberg is the source of the Ohrigstad River which is dammed by the wall of the Ohrigstad Dam. With the misty uplands of the Greater Drakensberg escarpment all around, the setting is inspiring. Its a great spot to unpack your binoculars, fishing rod and picnic gear. Close by is the Mt Sheba Nature reserve with its Afromontane forests, exotic looking cycads and ancient yellowwoods where forest birds abound and is a twitcher's dream. Pilgrim's Rest and the Panorama Route is close to the Ohrigstad dam and is a worthwhile trip. Take the R36 out of Lydenburg towards Ohrigstad 27kms and turn right onto the R533, drive another 10kms to reach the nature reserve. If one continues down the R533 for a further 26kms the tourist town of Pilgrims Rest is reached. Continue to Graskop and then choose to go north on the R532 to explore the Lisbon and Berlin falls, God's Window, Three Rondavels, the Poholes and the Blyde River Canyon. Travel a southerly route from Graskop on the R532 for the Forest and MacMac Pools and the quaint town of Sabie. Turn onto the R37 towards Lydenburg to experience the spectacular views over the Long Tom Pass.

Touring the Panorama route in Mpumalanga

Stonecutters Lodge is 20 kms from Lydenburg on the R540 to Dullstroom and is a central spot from which to explore all these areas. 



Tags: Mpumalanga, Lydenburg, Panorama Route, Nature Reserves, Dullstroom

Birding Routes in Mpumalanga

Posted by Margi Butler on Nov 9, 2011 12:33:00 PM

Mpumalanga boasts a variety of habitats that result in a spectacular diversity of birdlife. From shallow water pans to magnificent gorges, Mpumalanga has it all.

Leaving Gauteng and travelling along the N4, the following birding routes are worth further investigation:

Wonderfontein Pans: Between Middleburg and Belfast are a series of shallow pans that are home to a selection of Highveld water birds including Greater Flamingo, Macoa Duck, Cape Shoveller, African March Harrier, Black-necked Grebe and African Grass Owl. To reach these pans, head east along the N4 Toll Rout and turn right (south) at the Wonderfontein road, 45 Kms from Middleburg. 10 Kms along one comes upon the largest of the 3 pans, the Klip Pan, with the other 2 pans a few hundred metres down the road. Spending time here with a flask of coffee and binoculars can be most rewarding.


Steenkampsberg: Turn off the N4 at the Belfast sign and continue along the R540 towards Dullstroom. The Steenkampsberg lies between these two towns and is a grassland and wetland birding hotspot and includes the Verloren Valei Nature Reserve, a breeding spot for the critically endangered Wattled Crane. Lakenvlei on the left is a most rewarding drive and is ranked as the eighth most important Bird Area in South Africa, supporting at least 337 bird species. These include 12 globally and 29 nationally threatened species such as the White-winged Flufftail, found at both Lakenvleispruit and Middelpunt Vlei

Kaapsehoop: This tiny hamlet situated on the Mpumalanga escarpment overlooking the De Kaap valley is renowned for its wild horses – and its bird life. Walking trails to the Battery Waterfall and the Escarpment offer great birding and to the south of Kaapsehoop is the Blue Swallow Natural Heritage Site, home to the highly threatened Blue Swallow. Local Birding guide –Enos  072 331 1197.

Stonecutters Lodge near Dullstroom and Lydenurg is an ideal destination for those wanting to explore the diversity of birdlife in this most scenic area.

Stonecutters Lodge Near Dullstroom












Tags: Birdwatching mpumalanga, birding routes Mpumalanga

Trout Fishing at Stonecutters Lodge near Dullstroom

Posted by Margi Butler on Sep 16, 2011 3:41:00 PM

Gus Mason is an experienced fly-fisherman who was able to marry his passion for the sport to his ability as a sales training facilitator: His course “Fishing For Business” engendered in many a delegate a newly awakened interest in trout fishing in the Mpumalanga Highlands.

Flyfishing Dullstroom, LydenburgMany of these courses were held at Stonecutters Lodge near Dullstroom which offers superb accommodation and boardroom facilities as well as the opportunity to fish in dams and river. The 2 dams  and three kilometers of Dorps River are well stocked and are ideal for fly-fishing clinics. But river fishing is Gus’s first love and he wrote an article "Fishing the Rises"- the setting is the Dorps River at Stonecutters Lodge and the thrust of his lyrical prose is that the appreciation of fly-fishing is not confined to the number of bites or the weight of the catch: The pleasure of fishing is not measured by the number of fish brought home by the fisherman but is rather the deeper holistic experience of truly connecting with nature and of pitting one's wiles against those of a worthy opponent. So read and enjoy and download his article  Fishing The Rises……you will be pleased you did!

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Tags: Mpumalanga, fly-fishing, Lydenburg, trout fishing, Dullstroom

Plant a tree in September (Arbour month) for a greener South Africa.

Posted by Margi Butler on Sep 1, 2011 7:42:00 AM


Arbour Week was started in South Africa in 1983 and proved so popular that it was extended to Arbour week in 1997 and to Arbour Month in 2009. The aim of this special time is to motivate all South Africans – schools, businesses and communities – to plant, sponsor and look after our wonderful and diverse natural tree heritage.

Over the past 19 years, Food and Trees for Africa (FTFA) has been planting trees to offset carbon emissions, restore eco-systems, , improve the environment and create a healthier and more beautiful planet now and into the future.

Trees supply the most basic elements of life.- oxygen, water-vapour, food, shelter and fuel and are an efficient way to offset the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. Trees are the longest living and the largest living organisms on earth. In fact, without trees man could not survive.

On a more esoteric level, studies have shown that greener environments help combat mental fatigue, contribute to general feelings of well-being and combat violent behaviour.

FTFA responds to the many corporate and community requests for trees: communities and individuals who wish to participate in the focus on tree planting in the month of September and need information, advice or assistance are urged to contact FTFA. Individuals and companies who wish to contribute to a greener, healthier and more beautiful South Africa are requested to sponsor plantings for their employees, or for disadvantaged schools or communities.

The Trees of the Year for 2011 are the following species:Tree of the year 2011

Pappea Capensis, Jacket Plum, Doppruim – common tree 

Genus Pavetta, Brides Bushes, Bruidsbome – uncommon or rare tree

Tree of the year 2011

Nuxia Congesta, Common Wild Elder, Gewone-Wildevlier –uncommon or Tree of the year 2011rare tree


But if your garden nursery does not stock the tree of the year don't despair-plant any indigenous tree that will survive in your area- like the white stinkwood (Celtis Africana) read more about this wonderful tree.


At Stonecutters Lodge in Mpumalanga we will be donating trees to the rural community pre-school in Emshinini Village as part of the effort to educate the children as to the benefits of greening our planet. 


Tags: arbour month, south african trees of the year, Stonecutters Lodge

Hook a large trout or two at Stonecutters Lodge!

Posted by Margi Butler on Aug 30, 2011 10:37:00 AM

Guests at Stonecutters Lodge come in all shapes and sizes. Among them are those who want a romantic getaway in a country setting, those who want to take in the Dullstroom vibe and those who are doing business in Lydenburg. Then there are those who come to fish. Especially at this time of year when the waters are cold and the fishing is good, those desk-bound city dwellers who have been bitten by the fly-fishing bug feel the lure of the well-stocked dams and river at Stonecutters.

Trophy trout near Dullstroom

Many arrive with all their fly-fishing gear, but some make use of the rod and reel hire facility here. Some swagger bravely down to the water, secure in their ability to hook even the most wary trout, while less confident fishermen request the services of a local guide to ease them into the rhythm of casting and retrieving.

Fly fishing tuition near Dullstroom It is always a pleasure to host the occasional fisherman who, with well-honed skill, enjoys an outing on our water that they rank as exceptional. Andrew Wilmot was one such guest this month who has documented his stay and his catches at Stonecutters Lodge. The following article for our fly-fishing followers is an inspiration!

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Tags: Mpumalanga, fly-fishing, Lydenburg, trout fishing, Dullstroom

Catch a big rainbow trout Dullstroom, Mpumalanga

Posted by Margi Butler on Aug 14, 2011 10:20:00 AM

A fair number of our guests at Stonecutters Lodge are keen trout fishermen, but spawning season is always a difficult time as the fish are more interested in chasing one another than in taking the fly. So in early August this year we added some juvenile fish to the dams and river so that these youngsters (up to 450g) who were not sexually mature could provide some sport for those throwing in a line.

Big Trout at Stonecutters near DullstroomMark Heslop and his family who had sought long weekend accommodation near Dullstroom, booked a weekend in the family cottage  at Stonecutters Lodge.  We had organized a fly fishing lesson for his young son from one of the local guides early on Sat morning and Mark then spent time fishing the river and dams. On Sunday morning when casting in the large dam Mark hooked a magnificent cock fish weighing 2.1 kg using a black woolly bugger with a flash of red. The following morning he once again presented the fly to the spawning rainbows and hooked another biggie- 1.4 kg hen fish.

Both fish will be prepared for the Lodge buffet table- and if you are interested in knowing how to prepare trout for the table join the Chef's Hat Club and we will forward the recipes to you.

Fishing Reports






Tags: catch large trout, lydenburg fly-fishing, fly-fishing, trout fishing, dullstroom fly-fishing