As mentioned in our last blog, the members of the Safari Odyssey team are known to pack their bags and head out on amazing road trips at the drop of a hat. From daytrips to places like Parys, a haven of marvellous treasures for antique enthusiast to the wonderful Pilanesberg National Park to go on self-drive game drives, we are always ready.
A few years ago I started this “200km rule”, leaving on a Friday afternoon, deciding which direction I should go, and just driving till I get to 200km.It has allowed me to visit so many unique little towns, places people drive past on their way to the coast or on route to their holiday. But if you decide to stay a night you may just be pleasantly surprised.
They say one should always have a few towns on your list to visit…or revisit in my case. For me those towns include Victoria-West with the most beautiful Art Deco theatre, Niewoudtville and the silence of watching life go by. Loxton and its wonderful architecture, oh and Britstown with its very wide main street. All these towns have a certain charm about them. The closest bank visits the locals on Wednesdays between 2pm and 4pm most likely. Each one of them has a Pep stores or a Spar. But the best part, you can come to a complete standstill and take in life. Go for a walk up a Koppie, or just lie down and watch the most amazing constellations at night. Reconnect with your heart people. I was in need to relook my list earlier this year, add a few towns.
So recently I decided to go travel, and so I took the N12 out of Johannesburg at about 12pm on the Wednesday afternoon. The road is in great condition and well maintained. With a great soundtrack in the car, I was set for an adventure. I passed through Emalahleni where the N12 joins the N4 and continued to Middelburg. Traffic was easy flowing and I was I need of some coffee. So I stopped for a Matcha Latte at the Mug and Bean. You can only say you are officially taking a break post the first cup of coffee really. If it comes pouring hot from a thermos flask even better.
Soon I passed though Belfast after taking the R33 turn off. A small town with a Pep, two Spar’s (progressive)a department of Home Affairs and an assortment of strange shops and many many coal trucks passing through. Turning right at the first 4 -way stop I headed forth on the R540.
After about 15km the landscape changed…I drove slower and suddenly I knew why…what I saw was pure beauty…from the forests on either side of the road, to the continuous hills of green grass. It is like time moves slower, not on purpose but because it requires you to. I passed Lakenvlei nestled in a forest, and Blue Crane Lodge, both excellent places to stay the weekend. Then I blinked and arrived in Dullstroom.
Dullstroom has one main road, Naledi Street, which runs from the top of the town, down the hill towards Lydenburg. Everything happens along this stretch of road. It is best described as the main artery of the town. There is a selection of great restaurants, specialist shops and more along this road. I stopped for firelighters and some matches and decided to have a quick early dinner at Rose Cottage. A beautiful restaurant at the end of Naledi Street. The service was great and my coffee and toasted sandwich arrived in good time. Then it was off to Mavungana Fly Fishing to go pick up my rod and flies. See I come from a family of brothers who have spent many a weekend fly fishing, I just had to give it a try.
10 km of the worst dirt road in history followed at about 5pm, which my SUV managed easily. The locals obviously travel this road quite often based on the hectic speed they came flying past in their bakkies. I pulled up to the farm gate and the view forces one to stand still for a moment and say hello…just as your cell phone signal says goodbye. 4 days without technology is a rare luxury. My cottage was self-catering with ample wood to keep the fires going, and everything you may need. After a quick braai, I picked up my books and got lost in time, calling it a day.
During the course of the next 4 days, I spent my time waking up at 9am, sitting down by the trout dams on the farm in the early morning light with tea and books. Trying my hand..okay more like my wrist and arm…at catching a trout or 2. Dullstroom offers several activities such as clay-pigeon shooting-very precise and your timing has to be spot on, mountain biking, horse riding, abseiling, rock climbing and archery. You can get your mates together for a round of golf and even go to gym (alright not a Virgin Active, but hey there is a gym)
By Saturday morning I was looking for something to do, so I headed to town. The best way to explore Dullstroom is by doing a TTOF – a Town Tour on Foot. As mentioned the town is actually small enough to do this. Park your car at the top of the town at the Whisky Bar…and take a walk down the main street, stopping at Art@67, passing Shautany Chocolatiers for top quality choclates, several little boutique clothing stores like Senqu and more. I would highly recommend a stop at Beans about Coffee for the 7 Bean Africa Mix – buy 2 bags. Take a break from your walk at Anvil for some exceptional craft beers. Stop at Dimitrov Gallery for a little art culture, then cross the road and head to Delago Curios next to Harries Pancakes for the best in local crafts. There are loads historical spots close to this side of the town like the Beach and Oak which is over a 130 years old and on the World Heritage tree list, Van der Poll House 1889 and the Hervormde Church 1809.
Now a trip to Dullstroom would not be complete without a mention of the places for you to stop during your visit to replenish your weary body. Must stops are Charlie C’s for great coffee, Harries Pancakes for great sweet and savoury pancakes and Waffle and Co for the most awesome waffles. If you are into fine dinning, try Auldstone House, Walkersons Hotel and Spa and Lake Heron
Returning to the place where I stayed for the weekend,there is something so amazing about going for a walk in the late afternoon up a koppie (take a rain jacket with, the weather changes very fast in Dullstroom) to sitting outside you door, feeding apples to the horses that pass by. If you are looking for a weekend destination that will remind you why it is important to down, Dullstroom is the place. Would I add it onto my list of towns to visit, yes. Did I catch any trout-yes 1.
(Notes from me I you are planning a trip. There are 2 Petrol stations, as you enter from Belfast and exit the town towards Lydenburg. There are several ATM’s in Dullstroom-closes banks are in Belfast or Lydenburg. If you are thinking of buying magazines to read during winter, stop in Belfast and pick up a few. The supply of magazines are restricted to farming and fishing magazines with a limited selection for ladies).