September 12, 2022
Walkersons Hotel & Spa – a home from home
If the famous look-out point in on the Drakensberg escarpment in Mpumalanga is called ‘God’s Window’, Walkersons Hotel & Spa just outside the quaint town of Dullstroom must be the ‘Stairway to Heaven.
The highest point of the Mpumalanga province lies just outside the town of Dullstroom in the Steenkampsberg, 2 332 metres above sea level. Due to the elevation, literally in the clouds, fog often settles on the grounds of this exclusive 5-star, 27-room boutique hotel, creating vague impressions of lakes, oak trees and mossy stone buildings.
The Walkersons manor house and surrounding outbuildings which make up the hotel ‘rooms’ and self-catering cottages are dotted along the mountain slope on the 800-hectare nature reserve. The self-catering cottages are close enough to not feel excluded from the main buildings, but far enough to ensure a most private, romantic breakaway with your head in the clouds. It’s a world away, an easy two-and-a-half-hour drive from Joburg.
On clear-skied days, a walk around the estate is a refreshing way to familiarise yourself with the natural surroundings, which include jumps and trots over icy waterfalls and creeks, all dotted with stone crossings. Wildlife like springbok, red hartebeest, zebra, blue wildebeest and blesbok, as well as cute critters and a wealth of birdlife can be spotted, especially due to the abundance of water and greenery. Or you can saddle up and take in the views on horseback. The Dullstroom Riding Centre, situated on the estate offers horse riding for riders of all levels at affordable rates
For the more adventurous, the ultimate Dullstroom fly-fishing expedition is a must. And the best part? You don’t have to set foot off the estate as the hotel offers an in-house fly-fishing experience under the expert guidance of fly-fishing masters like Bongani Mahlangu. Walkersons boasts 14 lakes and dams, all stocked with rainbow trout, making the estate a fly fisher’s paradise. The sport is a nuanced one and one could easily be tricked into thinking it’s easy, especially with the experts at the lead. Even after a technical crash course on keeping your line untangled, leaning back and casting ‘bugs’, our morning of fly-fishing yielded no bounty. Luckily, Walkersons is situated in trout country…
The estate has a strict catch-and-release policy, so all trout is sourced from the sustainable trout farm at Machadodorp, about 40mins away.
On the balmy Terrace Restaurant stoep, visitors can taste the work of our labour – so to speak – with light lunches celebrating the region. Taunting trout, mockingly jumping in the lake right next to the terrace, is a reminder of just how locally-sourced the harvest platter is. “ Day visitors are welcome to pop in and enjoy a meal or delicious tea & scones overlooking the gardens”.
Evenings in these cloudy surroundings cool off rapidly. Thankfully, The Flying Scotsman Restaurant at the main manor is warm and cosy with the experienced chefs creating sublime fine-dining dishes in the small, stone-walled eatery. A fire burning in the entrance of the manor creates the perfect spot for a nightcap after dinner, or afternoon reading just before dusk settles. Booking at the Flying Scotsman Restaurant is a must as travellers flock from far away to tuck into the indulgent four-course menu. It sings of local inspiration and flavour, with slow-roasted duck, venison and the inclusion of locally produced fruits being regular treats on the ever-changing menu. Trout, naturally, is celebrated prominently. The delicate trout linguine, made with fresh dill, white wine and cream or the whole baked trout basted in butter, are both favourites.
For indulgent gluttons seeking ultimate relaxation, the Walkersons Spa, situated in one of the moss-covered stone cottages just off the main reception, offers deeply satisfying massages and the option to relax in the steam room after your treatment.
Leaning into their private and romantic position so close to the heavens, Walkersons truly caters for solitude seekers. One of the best parts of checking into the luxury, self-catering Waterfall Cottage on the far end of the estate is that eating at the hotel restaurants is optional and you can order in family styled take away meals to eat at your leisure such as slow-roasted oxtail and vegetables or pasta with salads and a crusty baguette. All packaged for easy reheating
Go there –
The hotel’s The Flying Scotsman and Terrace restaurants cater to both gourmet dining and light meals for in-house guests and day visitors. Bookings are essential.
Reservations on 013 253 7000 or email here
Written by Louzel Lombard Steyn