#TravelTuesday: Dullstroom, the heart of the Highlands Meander
Dullstroom is a little town – as charming as it is beautiful – found in the heart of the Highlands Meander in Mpumalanga. Often covered by a blanket of mist and one of the coldest towns in South Africa, it is the perfect spot to cuddle next to a fireplace with a glass of wine after a day spent in the beautiful outdoors. Quaint and inviting, it offers an abundance of clear streams, lakes and beautiful scenery making this the perfect escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. Although small, there is plenty to do – from art classes to horse riding and sampling delicacies in the numerous restaurants and cafés around town.
When to travel
Dullstroom is bustling year-round given its strategic location for tourists making their way to the Kruger National Park and the rest of the Mpumalanga province. For flower enthusiasts looking to discover all things floral in and around Dullstroom, the start of spring attracts nature lovers. If visiting the Verloren Vallei Nature Reserve for its beautiful flowers, November to February is the best time for this. If you’re not one for cold, temperatures can drop below freezing between May and August because of the sub-Alpine climate in Dullstroom. If you want to catch local festivals, keep an eye out for annual festivals such as the Lekkerland Carnival held in March and the Winter Festival held on 21 – 23 June this year.
How to get there
Dullstroom is a three-hour drive from Johannesburg, making it the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. If coming from Gauteng, driving will likely be the quickest and cheapest way to get to Dullstroom. You can also take a direct flight to the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport just outside of Nelspruit using some of the more popular airlines but flights are likely to be pricey. From the airport, a host of shuttles, tour operators, buses and car hire options are available to you.
Highlights you shouldn’t miss
1. The Verloren Vallei Nature Reserve is a wetland area of international importance. It is one of the few locations where all three of the world’s endangered cranes can be found. It is also home to 55 different species of orchids which flower at different times from September to the end of April. Plan ahead of time, however: because it’s a closed reserve, an appointment has to be made to visit the reserve and visitors must be accompanied by a guide.
2. The Walkersons Hotel & Spa is nestled in Dullstroom’s beautiful outdoors, complete with lake and mountain views. Whether or not you choose to stay in one of the hotel suites or self-catering cottages, if you’re planning a trip to unwind and relax, book a day of pampering at their spa. They offer a range of treatments for men and women so, whether you want to indulge, detox or melt away in a massage, they offer something for everyone.
3. Described by many as South Africa’s fly fishing capital, why not try your hand at the outdoor activity during your stay? Rainbow and brown trout are stocked in most dams and streams around the town and both town dams are open to members of the public. If fishing doesn’t appeal to you, the ample stock of trout sold in restaurants and delis around town might sound appealing. Visit one of the many quaint restaurants around town for a delicious meal during your stay or stock up on pre-packaged trout to take home with you.
4. Grab a drink at a number of establishments around town depending on your personal preference. Located on Dullstroom’s main road, Wild about Whisky boasts the second largest whiskey menu in the world and the largest in the southern hemisphere. They have 45 different set whiskey tastings and also have gin, brandy, cognac, rum and tequila on offer for tasting.
If you're more of a craft beer lover, visit Anvil Ale Brewery, located on Dullstroom's main road just before you leave town. The brewers have won numerous awards for their beers which include a Blonde Ale, Pale Aile, Biere D'Saison, While Anvil, Black Anvil and Mjolnir. Grab a tasting tray and a nibble from the kitchen and relax in the beautiful gardens that wrap around the brewery's terrace.
If you prefer a strong drink with a caffeine infusion, do not miss out on Beans about Coffee right next door to Anvil Ale Brewery. You can order a brew to enjoy in the lush garden or take your pick from the coffee beans on offer to take home. They will even grind the beans to suit your choice of coffee maker from plunger to top of the range machines.
If you really have more of a sweet tooth or want to spoil the kids, do not miss out on Udderlicious Milkshake Bar. A must stop, they have over 40 flavours and make milkshakes like you have not seen before, including non-conventional milkshake flavours such as zoo biscuit, fanta orange, jelly beans, Ferrero Rocher, or nougat and cream.