KALAHARI WILDERNESS DRIFT – SEASON 2020 – Week 1
Not even the threat of two cold fronts coming through during the first drift of the season could dampen the spirits of the African Waters and Gravity guides teams as we prepared for the arrival of our first guests of the 2020 Kalahari Wilderness Drift Season at our base, Red Rock River Camp. With our Tanzania and Gabon operations still moth balled due to C-19, we were fortunate enough to have some of our most senior guides on hand to take the baton as we aimed to make massive improvements to the existing product as we forge ahead to deliver a world-class fly fishing experience in the Kalahari. Johan Kuhn, a great friend and loyal guest of African Waters, was fortunate enough to be the sole rod on the first trip. Due to the (then) local travel restrictions, Johan had taken the view that he would happily travel if we were willing to accommodate him, which we were. With travel restriction lifted the day before his arrival, the timing could not have been better.
With fresh energy, a super relaxed guest, a crew of 3 fly fishing guides and 2 river guides, we set off on the morning of the first full day eager, to implement the new SOP’s we have put in place to take this product the next level.
The first day was slow as guides and guest found their rhythm and we battled gusty and cold conditions. But we soon began to put the pieces of the puzzle together, and by the end of day one, had a good idea of where to focus our energies over the next 4 days fishing. Once the code for the conditions we were faced with was cracked, we proceeded to pick up fish on regular basis, regardless of the unstable weather. 32 largies were landed on the trip, with the two biggest measuring a whopping 83 and 81cm respectively. As always, a few quality smallies up to the 10lb mark also crashed the largie fly fishing party.
A highlight of the trip was our improved camp set up, with bedouin tents offering a unique night time sleeping experience under the Kalahari night skies – open aired yet sheltered from the dew and wind. As night temps slowly start to increase over the season, this set up will come into its own. We also made some great additions to the already quality catering side of things, and these were welcomed by Johan, who has done this trip before.
On the wildlife front, kudu, cape clawless otter, and smorgasbord of water birds were all constant companions. A highlight of the week was enjoying lunch on the river bank below a nesting black eagle, and watching her return to her nest to feed her eager chick. The season runs from August through to mid Nov, with strict beat management and a mandatory 2 week rest period between stints. We are very fortunate to partner with like-minded tourism affiliates, Gravity Adventure and Red Rock River Camp, and together we are on a mission to make sure we deliver a world class fly fishing experience, while ensuring we set the bar in terms of ethical and responsible operating protocols.
Keep a look out for future trip reports as the season progresses. We still have a handful of spots left in September and November this year, and our 2021 schedule is up.
So, please touch base with firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to find out more about this program.