SA's iconic Kruger National Park annually inspires thousands of local travellers to hit the road and experience SA. It's a wonderful thing, but 'bush fever' tends to get the better of us... we jump on the N4 and speed towards the nearest Kruger gate - too eager to stop and savour what the journey can offer.
In this case, more than ever, the journey can be equally as rewarding as the destination. A sho't left from the N4 lies the little town of Dullstroom.
A ‘klein dorpie’ in all its glory, the town has changed significantly in recent years due to growing interest in its quirky charm and easy access for a weekend escape; it’s less than 3-hours from Joburg. It joins the ‘small town revival’ alongside the likes of Clarens in the Free State or Riebeek-Kasteel in the Western Cape - but with its own, unique personality.
Upon entering the town, a signpost declares… “Anything but Dull”.
At the far end of town is Wild about Whisky, offering a comprehensive whiskey tasting experience. It’s the perfect remedy to sooth travel aches, and the ‘whiskey tutors’ are also eager to guide newcomers to the best local spots. Tastings consist of six half-tots (no kidding) and are all related to a specific, general theme.
Wild about Whisky’s walls, adorned with endless options of liquid gold.
After the drink wears off, take on Dullstroom by foot. It’s a lucky-packet crammed with all the best goodies - no bad coffee or garage pies here. Make your way down the main road and you'll find a local-as-you-like biltong bar next to the town's authentic Belgian Waffle house, Waffle & Co. Across the street, the yellow double-storey cottage houses the second-best restaurant in the province - The Art of Food.
For the sweet tooth, Bert’s Handmade Sweets in the Old Transvaal Inn shop boasts old-school 'lekkers' and toffees which are a treat for passers-through.
The Old Transvaal Inn sits in a stately sandstone ‘dorpshuis’. Bert’s Homemade Sweets are sold inside.
Of course, no one should leave Dullstroom without trying its ‘national sport’. The spot is a world-renowned flyfishing destination and offers ample opportunity for newcomers to try their hand at the sport. The Village Angler, situated right by The Poacher Pub (don’t ask too many questions…) in the main road can hook you up with the best flyfishing guides around. Or, if you know the basics, head out to one of the many nearby lakes on your own.
Experts call trout fishing a 'test of endurance', but if you're determined to have your trout and eat it, there are ways...
Milly's Country Trout Stall stocks a stellar selection of locally and sustainably farmed trout and trout products - sourced from the nearby trout farms at Machadodorp. Milly's has it all - from whole fish to smoked slivers and all the patés you can imagine. The trout roulade is a must!
Milly’s Country Trout Stall stocks the local delicacy in all shapes and forms.
All of the local produce of the region inspires exceptional cuisine throughout. The four-course set menu at the Flying Scotsman Restaurant on the Walkersons Hotel & Spa estate just a few kilometres out of town is case in point, serving local trout, duck and venison on their seasonal availability. The bonus here is that you can check-in and experience Dullstroom in all its 5-star, romantic decadence.
The beautiful Dullstroom surrounds also ensure some of the best camping spots, like at Dullstroom on the Dam where you can pitch your tent right next to the water. The spot is a treat for flyfishers and you can hire a rod from reception if you haven't brought yours along. Be sure to pack an extra blanket for when the sun sets and that iconic fog rolls in... it can get really cold in the wee hours.
Dullstroom is the perfect base from where to enter the iconic Panorama Route. And from there, the Kruger National Park beckons… a world away from the romance and charm which lie tucked beneath a thick fog blanket in Dullstroom.
SEE: Walkersons Hotel & Spa: A Stairway to Heaven in the Mpumalanga escarpment
Dullstroom Festivals to love in 2019
A long weekend of outdoor activity and proudly South African music featuring Bobby Van Jaarsveld, Spoegwolf, Matthew Mole and The Barbosa Experience, to name a few.
When: 22 to 24 March 2019
This globally celebrated event is celebrating its 6th year at Wild about Whisky - the only distillery embassy in Africa for Ardbeg, a whiskey produced exclusively on the island of Islay, off the coast of Scotland.
When: End of May / Start of June (exact dates TBA)
Adbeg Day in Dullstroom, celebrated with bag pipes and Scottish flair.
The third installment of this festival celebrating country life, great music and Dullstroom's' amazing food culture has a new organising team behind it this year. Ticket prices will drop, while the confirmed line-up thus far includes big names like Rubber Duc, Jerry & the Bandits and Jaryd Smith, to name a few.
When: 15 and 16 June 2019
The 8th annual Dullstroom Winter Festival has become an annual institution. The whole town is included in events, and the concert by the dam is a massive treat for the whole family, with massive South African music legends setting the right mood.
When: 21 to 23 June 2019
This is the highest beer festival in Southern Africa, hosted by the Duck & Trout in Dullstroom. The festival gains inspiration from the iconic Oktoberfest and celebrates food, music and, of course, beer!
When: October 2019 (exact dates TBA)
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