The small village of Dullstroom, the fly-fishing capital of South Africa, also has the attraction of fresh air, lovely surroundings decorated with wild flowers and equipped with a strong tourism infrastructure! The town was established in 1883 and the name does not refer to a lack of social activities, but rather to Wolterus Dull, the Director of an immigration scheme to settle European immigrants in the area. Because the town lies so high up in the Steenkampsberg Range, some 2 100 m above sea level, mist often covers the town and surrounding areas and it can become quite cold during the winter months. However, the friendly inhabitants, cosy eateries, lodges and hotels, beautiful surroundings and the fireplaces in each house more than make up for the cold.
Dullstroom, also called “Sakhelwe” (We build) by local inhabitants, is the source of the Crocodile River that forms the southern boundary of the Kruger National Park, has one of the highest railway stations in South Africa and is also one of the few places in South Africa where elm and beech trees grow in large numbers.
Adventure And Sport
Air ventures: Explore the Dullstroom area from the air – you have a choice of a hot air-balloon trip or an aeroplane flight.
Altitude Training: The town has an Altitude Training Centre with free weights, circuit-training, aerobics and kickboxing facilities for professional athletes and visitors.
Archery and clay pigeon shooting: A fully-equipped range is situated some 7 km from Dullstroom on the Belfast side of the town.
4×4 Trails: Various operators offer 4×4 trails to destinations such as Ndebele ruins and the Elands River Valley.
Hiking: The numerous hiking trails in the area will introduce you to the wonderful scenery in and around Dullstroom. The trails include Elandsvlei Hiking Trail, Misty Valley Hiking Trails, Rassies Walker Trail, Ratelspruit Hiking Trail, Salpeterkrans Hiking Trail and Trout Royalty Hiking Trails.
Horse Trails: Experienced operators offer horse and pony rides for beginners, as well as two-hour game rides and weekend trail-riding.
Mountain-biking and cycling: Several biking routes traverse the area. Many professional mountain bikers visit Dullstroom to do altitude training here.
Trout-fishing: Dullstroom is undoubtedly the region’s trout-fishing Mecca. It has numerous streams and dams stocked with both rainbow and brown trout and fishing rods and flies are available for hire or sale from specialist shops in the town. Trout-fishing venues include Hakers Haven (ideal for children and beginners), Jurassic Pond, Ondervallei (Crocodile River), Elandskloof (ten large dams) and Ratelspruit River fishing, to name a few.
Art And Crafts
Dullstroom Art Gallery: The gallery is situated next to Dullstroom Inn and displays and sells the works of prominent South African artists.
Stonehouse Gallery: Stonehouse exhibits and sells the work of leading local artists, especially those of Edmund Barton, as well as stained glass pieces. Stained glass work can also be ordered from local artists and the town also boasts a sculptor of renown.
Entertainment And Shopping
Shops and restaurant: Dullstroom has changed its face over the last few years and has added several shops and eating establishments to the town to meet the needs of the growing weekend population who wish to escape the pressures of city life and find peace and quiet here. Consequently the town and its establishments are extremely attractive and offer a rich variety of items for sale. Antiques, linen, country clothes and home-made sweets are but some of the items on sale. Another benefit of the improved tourism infrastructure is the variety of eating establishments in the town. Visitors can take all three meals at different establishments and still have some different ones to visit the next day. And yet, despite all the growth, the town still retains its rustic and relaxed atmosphere where people can appreciate a combination of natural resources and human creativity.
History And Architecture
Ruined forts, trenches, artillery placements and the graves of both Boer and British soldiers are still visible at sites around the town.
Dutch Settlers Memorial: This memorial was erected in 1887 to honour those pioneers who left their native Holland and made use of the immigration scheme to make a new life here.
Historic buildings: There are many historic buildings in town, many of which have been restored and converted into shops. Buildings worth viewing include the Dutch Reformed Church, Old Post Office and the Station.
Fauna And Flora
Bird of Prey Centre: The Bird of Prey Centre at Owl and Oak, 9 km north-east of town, on the road to Lydenburg, treats, rehabilitates and trains injured birds of prey.
Dullstroom Dam Nature Reserve: The fast-running rivers and still dams teeming with trout and other fish make this reserve an angler’s dream; in fact it is considered to be one of the ten most popular freshwater angling spots in the country.
Floral Kingdom: The Dullstroom area is a floral paradise with more than 50 species of ground orchid, 120 species of indigenous wild flower and many other plants such as the bright yellow arum lilies that carpet the area in vibrant colour every spring (September to November).
Highlands Crane Group: Book an outing with the Crane Group to view the three endangered species of crane that have made this area their home.
Verlorenvallei Nature Reserve: This small reserve was established with the main aim of protecting a critically threatened habitat and its specialised species of birds from extinction. It has the distinction of being the only reserve in South Africa where all three species of crane are found. Verlorenvallei has been proclaimed an international RAMSAR Wetlands Site.