The sleepy little fishing village of Dullstroom, near Johannesburg, is the ideal short-break destination. If trout, the great outdoors and fine food are your thing, here's how to make the most of it
If you happen to find yourself in bustling Johannesburg, wondering where you can go for a relaxing short break, wonder no more. A few years ago, Dullstroom was just a sleepy fishing village in the picturesque Mpumalanga highlands. Today, while it has retained its quaintness, it attracts an increasing number of city folk retreating there for the perfect weekend getaway.
It won’t take you long to figure out that the main focus in Dullstroom is fishing. Indeed, the village is sometimes referred to as a "Mecca" for the sport in South Africa. There are several tackle stores along the main road and various fishing dams can be seen from just about any point in the village. Expect a certain amount of culinary overload, too – and you can also head out to one of the various art galleries and curio shops in the vicinity. For those who are after a bit of pampering, there are several world-class spas on offer too.
When in Dullstroom, I would recommend a trip to the Bird of Prey Rehabilitation Centre (www.birdsofprey.co.za). It has a wide variety of birds going about their daily routine as you learn all about them. The Centre also has a fantastic bird show, geared to all ages. Even if you’re not interested in birds, the entertaining duo Mark and Mark ensure a laugh a minute. There is also an onsite restaurant offering light meals, and it is quite pleasant to sit on the deck and enjoy views of the bird centre and the adjacent fields.
Where to stay
A great choice of accommodation is Millstream Farm, just a five-minute drive from Dullstroom village itself. The farm comprises various one-, two- and five-bedroom self-catering cottages. The quaint stone dwellings combine simple luxury with a homely country cottage feel. For everything they offer, their rates are incredibly reasonable.
The place will appeal strongly to outdoor enthusiasts; there are enough activities to keep them occupied for an entire weekend or longer. These include fly-fishing, birding, bicycling and boating. The 408-hectare farm has several pleasant walking trails for guests to enjoy. The horse-back rides round the nature resort are a must, with their sightings of zebra, bok and other game animals from the comfort of a saddle. We were lucky enough to see a one-week-old zebra foal on one of our rides.
Linger Longer is another outstanding place to stay, again offering self-catering cottages in a serene country setting.
Where to eat
The emphasis is definitely on food in this part of the world, and there are numerous restaurants, cafés and pancake houses along the main road. One worth particular mention is Harrie’s Pancakes (+27 13 254 0801), on the corner of Main Road and Gunning Street in Dullstroom. The nationwide restaurant chain has a reputation for producing some of the best pancakes in the land. Ranging from savoury chicken and mushroom to guiltily decadent cherry and liqueur, no one will be able to resist them.
Dullstroom is also famous for its delectable trout. Be sure to stop at Milly’s Trout (+27 13 254 0310) along the main road for a variety of mouth-watering delicacies including trout roulade, smoked trout, fantastic olive bread and various delicious condiments.
If you are looking for somewhere to dine in style, Dullstroom has numerous restaurants. We scouted the town and, after much deliberation, settled on Fibs Restaurant (+27 13 254 0059) at 567 Voortrekker Street, Dullstroom. Its home-made pizzas are not easily rivalled – while, for more adventurous appetites, the red wine-braised lamb shank with cucumber salsa is superb. The hospitality of the owners, together with the hearty food and fine wine, will leave you with all kinds of warm feelings.
As you can see, Dullstroom can keep even the most discerning traveller entertained quite effortlessly. Why not enjoy a glass of wine while watching the sun set over the fish-laden dams, then round it all off with a cosy chat around a roaring fire? If that doesn’t grab your fancy, why not savour the freshly smoked trout caught earlier that day? Whatever your style, if ever you find yourself in need of a short getaway, Dullstroom is the place.