A Winter weekend getaway to the Highlands Meander
For Gauteng residents, it will only take a 2-3 hour drive from the bustle of the city to reach the tranquility of the Mpumalanga Highlands Meander. This area calls to all lovers of nature, rock climbers, fly fishing enthusiasts and bird watchers. For those who wouldn’t mind taking a walk through the history books of South Africa, you’ll find many reminders and monuments of a time gone by.
The town of Belfast welcomes visitors as the gateway to the Meander. This is a mining town and quality coal, iron, granite and black granite form a big part of this town’s economy. Fly fishers will find joy here and whilst the flowers are known to be spectacular in Spring, Winter time yields the most beautiful orange colour in Aloes which are dotted around the bushveld. The Anglo Boer Monument called Berg-en-dal is only a short drive away.
Photograph: At Rainbow Lodge in Belfast, Moumalanga
Stay on a small farm at Rainbow Lodge where you can really kick back and find peace on the farm. Sleep in one of four Swiss style cottages all situated near to the fishing dam. Couples can enjoy quality time in a log cabin with an open plan living area which allows you to blissfully watch the fire from bed. The family cottages also have fireplaces so everyone can snug on a weekend away. Fishermen bring your gear, as there are three dams on the farm and all are stocked with Black Bass and Rainbow Trout. To stretch your legs, take a brisk walk in the forest and enjoy the outdoors.
It was between 1884 and 1887 when Dutch immigrants began settling on farms of Elandslaagte and Grootsuikerboskop. Dullstroom gets its name from the group’s chairman, Wolterus Dull. Here bird lovers can visit Velorenvallei Nature Reserve and try spot the Blue Crane, Crowned Crane and Wattled Crane.
Stay in the countryside of Dullstroom at Schaefers’ Halt historic cottages. With delightful names such as The Snug, The Cosy, Cloud Cottage and Wind Song, you’ll be bound to find a bit of magic in each one- Magic being scenic mountain views, open fire-places, Persian rugs and a private veranda with a kettle barbeque. One has 1930’s furnishings, another a natural spring and the Cloud cottage is the best starting point for hikes and walks.
Photograph: Stonecutters Lodge is situated between Dullstroom and Lydenburg
A lodge which lies between Dullstroom and Lynderburg is the Stonecutter’s Lodge. If you’re keen to visit the Kruger National Park or other private game reserves nearby this is the perfect place to overnight or stopover. Keep warm in the Stone Manor, a gathering area for guests to visit the pub, sit in front of the fire or watch TV. The actual self-catering suites have under floor heating and offer mountain views from covered, wooden decks and a Jet-master gas braai. The Trout house is a double story overlooking the dams with a fireplace and a lapa bonfire. Guests can enjoy ‘catch and release’ fly fishing in the two dams on the property and river.
Lynderburg was founded in 1849 by a group of Voortrekkers and positioned at the bottom of the Long Tom Pass on the Highland Escarpment. Whilst here, visit the Klingbiel Nature Reserve, Lydenburg Musuem, Mashishing Township and view pristine examples of Transvaal architecture from early years (see more here).
Within Waterval Boven, you will find the Rocky Drift Nature Reserve which will thrill rock climbers and hikers. You may spot wild life such as Steenbok, velvet monkeys, leopards and bush bucks amongst many. The important position of this this town along the railway line to Mozambique meant it was a well-used route between the Anglo-Boer War.
Photograph: Dullstroom, Highlands Meander, Mpumalanga
Stay at Bergwaters Eco Lodge and Spa in the valley between Waterval Boven and Waterval Onder. Forests, mountain streams and fireplaces await. There are other places to keep warm such as the sauna, pub and playing tennis or squash.