At 2 097m above sea level Dullstroom (a town dating back to the 1880s) is one of South Africa’s highest towns, endowing it with a sub-Alpine climate. A 270km drive east of Johannesburg along the N4 highway in the Mpumalanga province, Dullstroom is famous for its marvellous fishing, exceptional birdlife and picturesque rolling hillsides. Walkersons Hotel & Spa, located in a private reserve just outside Dullstroom, is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway from Johannesburg or a road trip stayover en route to the Kruger National Park and Mozambique.
The spacious lakeside suites are an ideal hideaway, elegantly kitted out with a king-sized bed, a comfortable couch from which to watch TV or laze in front of the fireplace, an indoor and outdoor shower, separate bathroom and a private patio from which you can walk into the valley along paved pathways traversing the 800 hectare Walkersons private estate.
Located 10km from the heart of Dullstroom, South Africa’s fly-fishing capital, this is the place to learn the art of fly fishing, among 14 lakes and dams stocked with rainbow trout. The next best way to meet a rainbow trout will be on your plate, served up by Chef Adri van Wieringen who devises a five-course dinner every evening served in the Scottish countryside-inspired stone manor hotel. The home-baked bread and dessert is worth the carb count. (An a la carte menu is also available). Opt for a wine pairing, or select from the daily recommended wine list from the award-winning cellar. A dining tip is to order dessert to your suite where you can enjoy it next to the fireplace, sipping some tea or a nightcap of your fancy.
A five-star hotel Walkersons has a number of lakeside suites as well as
self-catering cottages dotted across the property. There is a superb terrace on which to while away time on a comfortable couch or enjoy breakfast in the morning sunshine. No one will judge you if your idea of outdoor activity is a walk to the Amani Spa, and you’ll be rewarded with a warm welcome and a range of relaxing body treatments (it’s worth booking before your visit).
There’s plenty to do outdoors if the compulsion strikes from following a mountain trail for a panoramic, to hiring mountain bikes, or bird watching. Order a picnic basket and ask to be directed to one of the many scenic spots on the property (we heard whispers of a romantic waterfall). There are two golf courses within a 50km radius. The weather here can be fickle, changing from sun-drenched to cool and misty within hours, so pack a variety of clothing. The bird life is exceptional, and the Steenkampsberg is one of the rare places on globe where you might spot all three species of crane – among them South Africa’s national bird, the Blue Crane. The mountain reserve is also home to blesbok, duiker and zebra, while horse-riding is available at a nearby farm.
If you don’t favour driving the highways Walkersons also has a light aircraft runway and a helipad. Whichever way you choose to get there make sure that you don’t only stay for one night if you are planning to cure jetlag or a harried city life.
Walkersons Private Estate, Lydenburg road from Dullstroom, Mpumalanga www.walkersons.co.za, tel. +27 (13) 253 7000.
WHERE TO STOP EN ROUTE TO WALKERSON'SNAN HUA BUDDHIST TEMPLE
Along the N4 (50km from Pretoria) at the centre of what is actually a suburb of streets with Chinese names is the elaborate Nan Hua Buddhist Temple that attracts novices from across the continent. Nan Hua is a branch of the humanistic Buddhist order, Fo Guang Shan. The biggest Buddhist Temple in Africa is an impressive structure, with huge festively decorated front gates and an intricate complex of temple buildings arrayed around a central courtyard. The temple's main chamber contains three enormous Buddhas. A small museum contains some fascinating artefacts, and the snack shop serves simple noodle and dumpling dishes accompanied by health-giving tea. On Sundays you can participate in a silent lunch in the dining hall from 12:00-13:00.
27 Nan Hua Road, Cultura Park, Bronkhorstspruit, tel. +27 13 931 0009. http://en.nanhuatemple.org. Open 09:00-17:00, including public holidays. Closed Mon.
This is one roadside attraction worth stopping at along the N4. Approximately 160km from Johannesburg (between the towns of Middleburg and Belfast) this luxury petroport has praiseworthy restrooms, a steakhouse, café, Country & Outdoor, a store packed with must-have outdoor clothing and accessories and the piece de resistance, a game enclosure to be viewed from the deck, which is home to rhino, buffalo, eland, ostriches, blesbok, and even an emu.
N4 Highway, tel. +27 87 310 9808, www.alzupetroport.co.za. Open 24hrs.
MILLY'S COUNTRY TROUT
It is almost law in Dullstroom that you cannot leave without tasting the national treasure that is Milly’s home-baked trout pie. This store and farm stall stocks a wide range of home-made preserves, pickles and sauces plus you can buy freshly frozen trout as well as trout pâté, and a range of other tasty trout treats.
Critchley Common Centre, R540 Dullstroom, Mpumalanga, tel. +27 13 254 0310. Open 06:00-20:00, Sun 06:00-15:00.