Apart from trout fishing, Dullstroom is probably best-know as a convenient place for Gautengers to stop for lunch on the way to Kruger. But this cute little town in the Mpumalanga highlands is actually well-worth a little more time than most people give it. Rent a cottage and spend a few days here! Of course you should indulge in the things Dullstroom is so famous for; fly-fishing, hiking and horse riding. But make sure you don’t miss these hidden gems:
1. Go shopping!
In-between the usual tourist-traps are some galleries and shops with good quality art and local produce. Dullstroom Art Gallery promotes emerging artists by providing a platform for local artistic expression. For all things trout, go to Milly’s Trout Store (fresh, frozen, smoked, cured, pies, pates and a whole lot more). Don’t miss “Artefacts & Other Finds” at the very beginning of the town (Belfast side). At first appearance, it looks like a jumble of old junk but in-between the old pots and frilly tea-cosies are some beautiful pieces of art and antiques.
2. Drink beer
At the other end of town (Lydenburg side) lies Dullstroom’s very own micro brewery Anvil Ale, where you can do a free tasting before deciding whether to indulge in a Blond Ale, Pale Ale, White Anvil or Black Anvil. The beers are brewed according to European techniques; are unpasteurized and contain no enhancers or unnatural additives. The pub also serves locally sourced food and the relishes, mustard and desserts are all made on the premises. How about the “boozy cake” which is promised to have “received generous lashings of alcohol during the production process”?
3. Drink some more
Although Simply South Africa is all about “local is lekker”, it would be a crime not to include Wild about Whisky. Believe it or not, but this cozy little whisky bar boasts the largest whisky collection in the southern hemisphere! The friendly owners and their staff are extremely well-versed in all things whisky, and will guide you expertly through your tasting (chose a “theme”, design your own, or do the “ladies tasting”: whisky and truffles).
4. Eat like the locals
If you want to eat like the locals, make a reservation at Mrs Simpson’s. This delightfully quirky restaurant is bustling every night, and famed to be the best in Dullstroom. The host couple, Bryan and Stephen have created the place in the spirit of the divorceé Mrs Simpson, who became the late Duchess of Windsor. She married King Edward VIII who abdicated the English throne to wed her. Handbags, shoes and gloves make up the decor together with an impossible collection of Stuff. The food is hearty, cooked with love and local ingredients. For dessert, don’t miss the amazing peanut butter ice cream with caramel sauce. Possibly the Best Dessert Ever.
5. Meet the locals
Dullstroom is full of friendly people. They love a chat, and are always willing to give you some advice on how to best enjoy your time in their lovely part of the world. We didn’t meet a single grumpy person during our stay (well, apart from a rather feisty little dog but his grumpiness was aimed exclusively at parking guards). Come to think of it, even the guard that for some unknown reason was posted outside the town library all night gave a friendly smile and a wave every time we passed him!