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 picturesque 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 to fall. Our fly fishing plans had to be 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 Joyce cajoled all the stress out of me with her expert hands and hot stones.
We had arrived at the five-star hotel the previous day after a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Johannesburg. My camera began clicking as soon as we turned at the sign indicating the turn-off to 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 and checked in promptly then shown around the lodge. Walkersons is built in the style of a Scottish Country Manor with natural wood and stone. The main lodge houses formal and informal lounges, multiple dining areas (including one for families with small kids) and a terrace with panoramic views. Tasteful antiques, tapestries, and artworks adorn the lodge. Comfortable verandahs with ample seating areas overlook the dams.
There are 27 suites including a honeymoon suite, and six self-catering cottages accommodating different sized groups and families. Our charming luxury cottage consisted of two huge en-suite rooms, a loft with two beds, a fully equipped kitchen, and a lounge area with a book nook and a day bed. Log fireplaces, electric blankets, underfloor heating and heated towel rails were all provided to combat the cold elements.
Our windows and private patio overlooked a duck pond, where the snow white ducks would swim all day. If there wasn’t so much to do on the estate, we would have been perfectly content to remain ensconced in our cottage. My kids loved their luxurious room and the loft and took turns to sleep in each one.
The bathrooms were huge too and there were spacious bathtubs overlooking the outdoors. Fluffy bathrobes, slippers and amply-sized toiletries were provided.
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, like us, the friendly guides will show you the ropes as well as provide you with fishing rods and flies. We enjoyed the experience. My son, especially, loved it and can’t wait to do it again.
The scenic surroundings beg to be explored. In fact, I couldn’t get over how pretty the estate was throughout my stay. 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, or leisurely picnics with baskets provided by the kitchen. Should you need to burn some of the extra calories gained during your stay, you can work out at the on-site gym, swim in the beautiful pool, or go on a leisurely walk or hike.
The food from the award-winning chefs was wholesome and delicious. Vegetarians and pescaterians were well-catered for, and our dietary requirements were always taken into account. There was a special menu for the little ones too. We particularly enjoyed the fresh trout and the delectable desserts. For dinner one night, we were spoilt with a sumptuous prawn curry.
The two-night stay at Walkersons was just what we needed after a stressful two months. 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 or The Panorama Route. It is also a superb place for a wedding, a honeymoon or a conference. On second thought, you don’t need any excuse to stay here. Just treat yourself…and your family.