Sunset on the hiking trail above Walkersons

48 Hours in Dullstroom

Last weekend I was invited to spend two nights at Walkersons Hotel and Spa in Dullstroom, a holiday town halfway between Joburg and Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga Province. I had been to Dullstroom briefly once before, and while I found it quaint I wouldn’t have considered spending a weekend there. Dullstroom is known as a fly-fishing destination and I don’t fish.

Sunset Walkersons dam in DullstroomA man fly-fishes at sunset on a dam at Walkersons. (Photo by Ray)

However, I’m not one to turn down a weekend at a five-star hotel. So I went to Dullstroom and brought Ray with me. In the end, we didn’t want to leave.

We arrived at Walkersons on Friday afternoon and I was useless for the first five hours, having suffered a bout of food poisoning the night before. I collapsed onto the cloud-like bed and slept until dinner.

Walkersons suiteOur suite at Walkersons, which looked out onto the lake.

But despite my slow start we managed to do a ton of fun things during our two days in this tiny town. Here’s a run-down.

Where We Stayed in Dullstroom

Walkersons is an English-manor-style hotel on a sprawling estate just outside Dullstroom. The main building, with its 19th-century antiques and fox-hunt paintings and staff dressed in traditional Scottish kilts, made us feel like we’d been transported to the English countryside.

Walkersons dining roomThe Walkersons dining room. Everything looks old except for the polka-dotted chairs.

Elias in kilt at WalkersonsElias, my favorite Walkersons staff member. All of the staff wear kilts during the dinner service.

Walkersons poolThe beautiful Walkersons pool. This swimmer was brave — the water was cold.

Walkersons fish pondThe Walkersons fish pond on a misty Sunday morning. Straight out of England, right?

Walkersons roseRain drops on an English rose.

Walkersons was a beautiful, romantic place to stay. It’s expensive — R2400 ($166) per person sharing, including a five-course dinner and breakfast — but it is five-star, after all. (There are also far cheaper self-catering options.) We loved the food — I’ll have more to say about that later — the walking, the outdoor shower, and the spa, where I had a nice pedicure.

Walkersons spa-1747The Walkersons Amani Spa. (Photo by Ray)

I have only one complaint for the Walkersons management: Please do away with those 50MB internet vouchers that run out in five minutes. I really detest those tiny paper slips. I know you’re old-school and all — I do love the kilts — but old-school wifi is where I draw the line.

What We Did in Dullstroom

1) Dullstroom Bird of Prey Centre

The Dullstroom Bird of Prey Centre is my number one recommended activity in Dullstroom. I’ve blogged about it before but I can’t say enough good things about this place. Anyone with even the remotest interest in animals will love it, and the R60 admission fee goes to support one of the best wildlife causes in South Africa.

Dullstroom Bird of prey owl and boyDaffie, a talkative spotted eagle owl, sits on the hand of a young guest.

Secretary bird and Magdali at Dullstroom Bird of Prey CentreMagdali, the director of the Bird of Prey Centre, with Wayne Rooney the secretary bird. Wayne Rooney is attacking a rubber snake, demonstrating how secretary birds kill snakes in the wild. 

Dullstroom Bird of Prey Bossie the owlA beautiful wood owl named Bossie.

When visiting the Dullstroom Bird of Prey Centre, try to time your arrival around one of the daily bird displays at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. They’re amazing.

2) The Clock Shop

The Clock Shop, hidden in a small strip mall, is the self-proclaimed largest clock shop in the Southern Hemisphere with 7500 clocks. I see no reason to dispute this.

World of clocks interirorI’ve certainly never seen so many clocks.

World of clocks roomTick tock.

World of Clocks RayRay matches the Clock Shop.

While at the Clock Shop, Ray and I met Mackintosh Samson working behind a closed door in the repair workshop. Meeting Mackintosh was a highlight of the trip.

Clock repair MackntoshMackintosh explains his craft. Ray and I were both mesmerized.

Clock repairOne of the beautiful clocks that Mackintosh is repairing.

I only chatted with Mackintosh for a few minutes, but I learned that he is originally from Zimbabwe and that he travels all over South Africa fixing clocks. Mackintosh deserves a post of his own so I’ll leave it at that for now.

 3) Dullstroom Railway Station

The tiny Dullstroom Railway Station is the highest train station in South Africa at 2077 meters (6814 feet). The station is currently closed to the public, but Ray and I wandered around the outside.

Dullstroom train tracksThe Dullstroom Railway Station.

Dullstroom train station windowI was struck by this “Natives” ticket window, where black South Africans had to buy their train tickets during South Africa’s bad old days.

While we were snooping around the yard of the station we met a guy named Wikus, who lives inside the station with his two dogs. Wikus told us that he is renting the property and planning to convert the old station into a cafe/market, and maybe even a guest house. (If you’re reading this, Wikus, I’m sorry we missed you before we left town.) I can’t wait to check out the station again after this renovation.

Zoe the dog at railway station-5115Zoe, Wikus’ dog, waits for a train.

4) Hiking

On Saturday evening, I followed Walkersons’ well-maintained hiking trail and walked to the top of the mountain behind the resort. As usual, I underestimated the length and difficulty of the hike (it took me about an hour to walk up and 45 minutes to walk down) and forgot to bring water with me. But I made it back alive and the view from the top was worth it.

Sunset above WalkersonsLooking down on Walkersons.

Sunset DullstroomA highveld sunset.

What We Ate in Dullstroom

We ate A LOT in 48 hours.

1) Walkersons

Walkersons serves amazing food, and I highly recommend fasting for a few days before going. Both the dinners and breakfasts are insane and the courses just keep coming.

Walkersons whole fishOur main course on Saturday night — an entire rainbow trout.

Walkersons sorbetPalette cleanser: a perfect ball of lemon-rosemary sorbet.

Walkersons dessertDessert: Amarula panna-cotta with another perfect ball of chocolate ice cream.

2) Art of Food

I first read about the Art of Food in my friend Kate’s blog and was happy to get the chance to try it myself for lunch on Saturday. I’m so glad we went; it’s a fantastic restaurant serving delicious, unpretentious gourmet food at unpretentious prices.

Art of Food pastaRay’s calamari and chorizo pasta. I had a smoked trout salad, which was equally good.

3) Waffle & Co.

On our way out of town on Sunday, we squeezed in one last meal at Waffle & Co. Belgian Waffles. This little gem has a sweet, homey vibe with super friendly owners and yummy waffles and milkshakes. Skip the long line at Harrie’s Pancakes next door and hit Waffle & Co. instead.

Belgian WaffleThe “Spice Girls” waffle, with spiced apples and cream.

That’s all on Dullstroom, for now. You’ll probably hear more about these places in the future as I’m already looking forward to going back. Maybe I’ll even learn to fly-fish. (Okay, maybe not.)

My stay at Walkersons was complimentary. Opinions expressed are mine.

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20 Comments

    • Reply 2summers April 26, 2016 at 4:20 pm

      That looks so pretty! Did you stay there?

  • Reply roxannereid1 April 26, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    I know there’s a limit to how much you can eat in 48 hours, but I wouldn’t have missed Harrie’s Pancakes, my regular and favourite stop in Dullstroom on the way to the Kruger Park.

    • Reply 2summers April 26, 2016 at 5:18 pm

      It’s funny – we actually tried to go to Harries but there was a line out the door! In the end I was glad we tried the waffle place instead, as there is also a Harrie’s Pancakes not far from here in Pretoria.

  • Reply violetonlineisonline April 26, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    this looks divine!
    but I agree with Roxanne – Harries is an institution.

    • Reply 2summers April 28, 2016 at 9:42 am

      Ok, I will try Harrie’s next time. Just not on a Sunday at 12 🙂

  • Reply Yashik Nanan April 27, 2016 at 11:39 am

    gorgeous pics as usual. 50mb WiFi – that’s hilarious!

    • Reply 2summers April 27, 2016 at 11:48 am

      Haha, I know. I would log in, enter my code, post one Instagram and then the data would be gone ?

  • Reply autumnashbough April 27, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    Your posts always have such great pictures. Especially of food. Now I’m starving. Also, I want to go stay in Dullstrom! And see the birds and hang in the English manor…did they have tea? I am such a sucker for tea.

    • Reply 2summers April 27, 2016 at 7:11 pm

      Actually, I’ll bet they did have tea but I never had any. I should’ve asked! But I was too stuffed from breakfast and dinner.

  • Reply Sarisha April 27, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    Great post, you mentioned some of the cheaper self catering optionns, are these at Walkersons as well?

    • Reply 2summers April 27, 2016 at 8:58 pm

      Yes, if you check out the Walkersons rate page you’ll see the listings for their self catering cottages. There are also tons more self catering places in Dullstroom.

  • Reply K for Kate (@Kate_Els) April 28, 2016 at 7:09 am

    I’m so glad that there’s another Art of Food convert in my life x

    • Reply 2summers April 28, 2016 at 9:41 am

      I wish we’d had time to go for dinner!

  • Reply Lani April 29, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Simply amazing!

  • Reply Jaina April 29, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    The Walkersons looks like it’s straight out of England – love it!

    • Reply 2summers May 1, 2016 at 2:51 pm

      It really was. It actually made me yearn to go there, as I haven’t been to England in about 20 years 🙂

  • Reply all-TIM-ate May 5, 2016 at 6:15 am

    when i’m done with exams i’ll take myself to walkersons for that trout 🙂

    • Reply 2summers May 5, 2016 at 7:58 pm

      Do it!

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