The Angler and Antelope, Somerset East 

The Angler and Antelope, Somerset East

Had I succumbed to a wonderful fishy tale or was the “Sport of Kings” really achievable on the edge of this barren thirstland?

In Somerset East, in the heart of what is called the Blue Crane Route all was revealed.  The name The Angler and Antelope defines the visit. A superb 4 star graded Guesthouse set in the heart of this small Karoo town offers both angling and antelope, but much more too.  Angling – or more correctly wild fly fishing in the Karoo is plentiful in dams and rivers within easy driving distance of the town – not only for trout but bass, moggel, yellowfish, barbel and carp too.  Yes – there are Antelope also  – Blesbok, Fallow Deer, Steenbok, Springbok, Impala, and Gemsbok all along the road to our fishing spot on the Little Fish River.   Sable, Nyala and Kudu kept themselves hidden as did the trout on this occasion, but more of that later. 

Great hospitality and knowledgeable folk were the hallmarks of my visit – from the nurturing and skill sharing of my hosts Alan and Annabelle Hobson to the wisdom and enthusiasm of Ros and Keridwyn at the Walter Battiss Art Museum and the Somerset East Museum – I was truly welcomed and spoilt.    Neither of the Museums should be missed by a visitor to Somerset East, but let me dwell here on the real purpose of my visit.

Arriving in mid afternoon, tea was served in the unusual St. Francis Culinary Centre – a former Catholic Church now renovated with the rich golden tones of old Oregon pine.  In one corner Nigel’s Pub, heavy with its store of malt whiskies enjoyed by many a fisherman over the past few years shared the space with a long beautifully crafted refractory dining table, some comfortable easy chairs and a kitchen area neatly hidden beyond.  My scrumptious evening meal of Annabelle’s home baked steak and butternut pie and my generous breakfast the following morning were both served in this stylish but far from elaborate setting – one which I think St. Francis of Assisi, whose personal style was simplicity, would have been perfectly at home with.   Absolute luxury came in the form of the Guesthouse itself with my tastefully decorated room and adjoining bathroom, large fluffy towels, pristine white linen and underfloor heating for those cold Karoo nights.   The real highlight for me was the one-cup filter for brewing my early morning cup of ‘real’ coffee – a great touch Annabelle.

Alan, a REFFIS accredited fly fishing guide offered to spoil me the following morning when he patiently put me through some basic fly-casting techniques on his stretch of lawn.  The advice - between 10 and 2 has a whole new meaning for me now!   Basic steps in place, I was kitted out in a loaned pair of wellington boots and rugby socks and we set off away from the activity of the town to the rocks and craggy magnificence that harbours the Little Fish River.   Here for about 3 hours I tried with little skill and finesse but some considerable patience to lure my first ever trout.   Not this time Jo, maybe next.   And there will surely be a next when the mayfly calls.

It is worth adding that in a distance of less than 200 km. mainly along the R63 route you could enjoy some outstanding South African country hospitality and 3 very different Karoo experiences.  Ganora Guest Farm near Nieu Bethesda and Graaff Reinet - a great farm stay with its fossils, rock art and plenty more.  Mount Camdeboo Private Reserve mid-way along the route - a wonderful wildlife/safari destination and The Angler at Antelope in Somerset East - a delightful fly fishing opportunity in the hands of generous hosts.   

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

The Guesthouse can accommodate 14 people in 7 Guest rooms, which are air-conditioned and have underfloor heating in the bathrooms, for those cold winter nights. Each room has a work station available and free wireless internet. All rooms have a TV and tea and coffee facilities.  There is secure off street parking.

There is also a self-catering cottage on the property which can sleep 6.

You can order a delicious home-cooked evening 2 course meal from a simple menu which is served in the old St. Francis Catholic Church on their property. This meal is served between 6.00pm and 8.00pm. Dinner orders must be placed before 6.00pm. Regrettably the kitchen is closed on Mondays 

Rates

01 January 2013 - 31 December 2013

Standard Rooms: R350.00 pppn sharing, R450.00 pppn single
Business/Executive Rooms: R450.00 pppn sharing, from R595.00 pppn single

Rates are inclusive of 14% VAT and include breakfast.

PACKAGES until the end of 2013

1 Night Getaway - 1 night's 4 star accommodation, including dinner and breakfast and a visit to the
Walter Battis Art Museum @ R595.00 pp sharing

2 Night Romantic Getaway - 2 night's 4 star accommodation, including dinner and breakfast, with a guided day's fly fishing for him and spa treatment for her @ R1999.00 pp sharing

2 Night Getaway - 2 night's 4 star accommodation inbcluding dinner and breakfast, with a 5 star game drive and lunch @ R1990 pp sharing

4 Night 2 Day Getaway - including dinner and breakfast @ R3850 pp sharing.  Day 1: Spa Treatment for 2; Day 2: Tour of the Walter Battiss Museum and the Somerset East Museum, with lunch at Hobson's Choice Deli; Day 3: 5 star game drive or a day's guided fly fishing, including lunch