Activities at Zingela
The Zulu Kingdom boasts superb all year round sub-tropical weather with an average of 320 days of sunshine a year! Zingela's average rainfall of 600mm falls mainly over the summer months This is when the peaceful Tugela wakes up from its hibernation and provides some of the most exciting rafting in the country.
With these statistics in mind you might decide to do absolutely NOTHING while unwinding at Zingela. The camp is ideally situated for guided game walks, birding or fishing. Sitting in the shade of a thorn tree with a good book is also a wonderful alternative. African time rules here and the Tree of idleness might find you a common visitor!
Adventure activities are largely dictated by the seasons and nature has provided a wonderful playground.
The river for rafting, kayaking, fishing and zip sliding. The cliffs for abseiling. Spectacular terrain for 4x4s, quad and mountain biking. The variety of birds, trees and game that makes every walk an adventure.
WHITE WATER RAFTING
Summer is all about white water rafting and Zingela has twice hosted the South African White water rafting championships. There is an excellent 20km stretch of rapids and pools on this section of the Tugela Canyon including the intimidating Washing machine and Finger rock rapids. Water levels alter the mood of the river but whether the river rises along with adrenalin levels or whether the water converts to a “smell the roses” experience, these adventure trips are unforgettable. Rafting on big water is traditionally between November and April but as always Mother Nature has the final say! On big water we use the eight and four man rafts while in lower water the two man crocs and one man kayaks are ideal. Our experienced guides are trained by and registered with the African Paddling Association. Many of our clients are novices so no previous rafting experience is necessary.
Zingela offers some wonderful single track riding and interspersed with rugged 4x4 vehicle bush tracks. The ride in from both Weenen & Colenso offers 30kms plus dirt road riding at its best. The abundance of game in the bushveld wilderness adds to the riding experience. Guests are welcome to bring their own mountain bikes. Eco-friendly quads are also a great way of seeing the area and sensible riding often results in excellent game viewing along with the 4x4 terrain.
Love it or leave it but the game is guaranteed to turn you into a cowboy or a crook! The dry river beds make an ideal venue for the game.
Comment by Chris Bateman – former angling correspondent, The Cape Times. (Just in case you think we are biased)
“Mark, the owner of Zingela spends many hours in what he calls the “Office.” This is another name for the fly-fishing in the Tugela.
The prime quarry for Mark & an increasingly avid band of guests is the sometimes elusive but always hard fighting indigenous Natal yellow fish (known locally as the Scalie).
Breakfast talk at camp centres on the types of bead head nymphs or bloodworm patterns that are known to work best, which section of the river to fish them, how to get there and the best riffles, pocket water and glides to work.
The Zingela section of the Tugela provides many kilometres of pristine, exciting fishing in rugged countryside that has changed little in millennia and where your only company might be a curious kudu or duiker, a herd of Impala or a string of strutting warthogs heading down to drink at mid-day.
Zingela fly-fishing keeps you honest. No sluggish pellet-fed impounded prize fish just waiting to inhale your fly here. These are sleek, natural-born, silver-yellow beauties ever alert to feeding opportunities, survivors of low-water droughts, raging foods, cormorants, fish eagle and the rare angler.
When you hook one you know about it. Think of the hugely sought after northern hemisphere Greyling if you want a species to compare with in terms of fight and indigenous purity. My personal best in four winter visits to Zingela is a seven pounder that stopped my fly dead below a strong rapid before slicing upstream through the fast water with an impunity that had me shaking my head in admiration and delight. He is back there, older, wiser and waiting to do battle.
Expect to put your time in. You are in the scaliest ancient territory here and sometimes only a combination of decent temperatures, water clarity and insect hatches will get this efficient predator on the take - or not.
But my best advice, (though please refer to Mark for the latest office gossip) is to fish a floating line with a long leader and weighted fly, stick to water above 12° C and pray for some reasonable water clarity – best potential months being April to the first frosts and from August to the first big rains.
The rest is up to your skill, patience and resilience. This is an angling challenge at its most pristine. One that I reckon outshines the allure of the fanciest and most heavily promoted venues by a very long chalk.”
And one more comment from Dr Ian Gordon, a keen fisherman from Ireland just in case you aren't convinced!
“ an intimate and secluded camp right on the river where one is treated as a friend not a guest...the fishing potential is huge and whilst scalies are the main quarry, the barbel fishing is excellent”and finally
“Have fished a few mighty rivers, and now this on our doorstep? Scotlands Spey, the Zambezi, but this Tugela, a different league in wild unspoiled environs. The sight of those huge golden fish, disdainfully ignoring the offerings has got us plotting already for more....” Anton Smith. Siyabala Consult CC
The cliffs overlooking the Tugela Canyon provide dizzying abseil sites. Face your fear or watch other participants step over the edge. Registered, experienced guides are there to provide reassurance and safety. The following poem says it all!
Over the Edge
Cold sweat, false bravado.
Anxious eyes, fidgeting hands the senses are brought to life.
Rough rocks, cool breeze
An agony of waiting
The edge, a leap of faith
Fear becomes terrifying exhilaration
Heart pumping, Eyes popping, You touch down. Its over!
Zach Bowen-Davis ( Hilton College Poetry group)
The recently re-thatched the old farmhouse gets the first and last of the winter sun. The position of the house gives those who stay there a panoramic, eagles-eye view of the majestic Tugela river. It can sleep 12 at present (5 bedrooms). Guests who stay at the H.O.H can choose the catered or self-catered option. This is an ideal venue for small corporate groups who need privacy and un-interrupted inspiration!