I stopped on the mountain trail and inhaled the intoxicating fresh air. The rest of my family were far ahead of me, but I didn’t mind. I wanted to enjoy the beautiful scene below me. I was just outside South Africa’s highest town, Dullstroom. Below me lay the shimmering blue dams and charming stone cottages of Walkersons Hotel and Spa. Nearby, a small herd of zebras and red hartebeests eyed me suspiciously, then scooted away. It was an idyllic scene.
We returned to the lodge just as the rain began. Our fishing plans were postponed but we were compensated with a roaring log fire and a hearty lunch at the hotel’s signature restaurant, The Flying Scotsman, instead. After lunch, I went for a relaxing hot stone massage where I drifted off into lala land as the masseuse cajoled all the stress out of me with her expert hands.
We had arrived at the five-star hotel after a leisurely drive from Johannesburg. As we turned at the sign indicating our destination, the winding hillside road led us into a deep valley surrounded by the rolling hills of the Mpumalanga highveld within which the 800-hectare Walkersons Estate was nestled.
On arrival we were welcomed then shown around the lodge. Walkersons is built in the style of a Scottish Country Manor with natural wood and stone. Tasteful antiques, tapestries, and artworks adorn the lodge, and comfortable verandahs overlook the dams.
There are 27 suites including a honeymoon suite, and six self-catering cottages accommodating different sized groups. Our charming luxury cottage consisted of two huge en-suite rooms, a loft with two beds, a fully-equipped kitchen, and a lounge cum dining area. Log fireplaces, electric blankets, underfloor heating and heated towel rails were all provided to combat the cold. Our windows and private patio overlooked a duck pond, where the snow-white ducks would swim all day.
Dullstroom is renowned for its fly fishing and this is a must-do at Walkersons. The estate boasts 14 well-stocked rainbow trout dams, making it a fly-fisherman’s paradise. Even if you’ve never done it before, the friendly guides will show you the ropes.
The scenic surroundings beg to be explored. Well-paved footpaths make it easy to explore and thoughtfully placed benches allow one to sit and relax while exploring. Activities include horse-riding, bird-watching and leisurely picnics. You can also work out at the gym, swim in the pool, or go hiking.
The two-night stay at Walkersons was just what we needed to de-stress. The food from the award-winning chefs was delicious. The friendly staff took great care of us and the beautiful, serene countryside and old-world exclusivity and charm were just what the doctor ordered.
Luxurious and family-friendly, this is a great weekend getaway from Johannesburg or a stopover en route to Kruger National Park. It is also a superb place for a wedding, honeymoon or conference. On second thought, you don’t need any excuse to stay here. Just treat yourself.
By Sara Essop