Everyone needs a special hideaway-mine is Gubu Dam
My favorite hideaway
Everyone should have a favourite place that they enjoy spending time at. It may be as simple as your front porch or a chair at the bottom of your garden. It may be some place where you have to travel to. I have a few special favourite places that I love spending time at and if you like I will take you to one.
This evening as I sit in front of my open fire with some Boerewors (Sausages) cooking over the coals I can reflect on some of the highlights of the day that makes this such a special place. The haunting cry of a Fish Eagle, the Water Monitor that slowly made its way along the bank looking for food, the family of Otters feeding in the shallows as a team, the trout I hooked and then lost from my little rowing boat, and a simply glorious autumn evening and an equally amazing sunset.
Lake Gubu in the mountains near Stutterheim in the Eastern Cape is one of my favourite places. Lakes are beautiful places and Gubu is no exception. Nestled in the Amatola Mountain Range about 100km from East London is this 125ha lake that supplies the town of Stutterheim with water and is also the home of the Stutterheim Fly Fishing Club who have converted an old forestry shed into a comfortable club house with a kitchen, dining/living room, bathrooms and three bedrooms. It overlooks this beautiful lake that nestles between Mt Gubu in the west and Mt Thomas in the east and is surrounded by pine forests that were originally part of the South African Forestry Department but now belong to a private company. The lake is annually stocked with Rainbow and Brown Trout and can be fished by members of the club or with a permit issues by Robin, the bailiff, who lives in a house overlooking the dam.
Yearly membership of the club gives me access to the dam and the clubhouse and since the mid 1990 I have been using this place as an escape from the daily hustle and bustle of city life. The trouble is that as a clubhouse it cannot be booked for your exclusive use, and so coming here is a kind of pot luck situation. Sometimes you have it to yourself and sometimes you have to share it with others. This does not really worry me as I have met some really interesting people here over the years. Trout fishermen and women are generally speaking really nice people. The front of the clubhouse consists of a covered braai (barbeque) area and one of the really relaxing moments in my life is to sit outside, watching my fire burning, with the dam and mountains as a backdrop. Even when it rains I love sitting under this covered area watching the dam in another of its many moods. When mist moves in from the mountains the lake has a special mystical appearance.
Fly fishing is a great hobby and fishing for trout either from the bank of from my little two man rowing boat gives me great pleasure. Sometimes I even catch a fish and then it ends up on the braai for supper or gets taken home to be eaten later.
Birding is another activity that keeps me busy at Gubu. As a ‘Citizen Scientist’ I keep a regular bird list of this area and these lists are then sent in to the University of Cape Town to become part of the statistics for the South African Bird Atlas Program (SABAP2). The Fish Eagles that patrol the lake overhead and the Little Grebes that dive deep under the water to find food are two of the many birds that can be seen here on a regular basis. A trip around the lake helps me to add about 20 birds to my outing list. Some are regular friends like the Rock Pigeons and some are surprises like a Red-capped Warbler that I "discovered" recently. In summer it is possible to find a "rarity" taking a rest as it flies north or south.
As the view from the front of the clubhouse is more than 180% the sunsets and sunrises can both be enjoyed from this area and how wonderful they often are. Today was another great day at Gubu and what a joy when our daughter Gill and our granddaughter’s, Sarah and Leah, arrived to spend the night here. Life does not get much better than this and perhaps tomorrow I may even catch a trout.
I strongly suggest that you also find a special place like I have. Treasure and enjoy it! Don't tell anyone about Gubu as it is almost too precious to share!