Winter the Dullstroom way
The Highveld town of Dullstroom, which is more than 2 000m above sea level, is not exempt from the blue skies and mild weather that characterises much of Mpumalanga province in the winter months. From time to time, though, a cold front rolls in, silvering the hills with crisp, bright frost or blanketing them in cool mists.
When this happens, visitors and residents make the most of the weather. Typical scenes involve log fires, misty-morning fly-fishing, comfort food from delis and restaurants in the town, warming walks and trail runs, or hours spent whiskey, wine or ale tasting in a cosy pub.
These activities have become so much a part of the Dullstroom winter experience that the Dullstroom Winter Festival is now held every July. Celebrating all the wintery wonderfulness, this year it will take place from 5 to 7 July.
The festival co-ordinates a range of activities, such as a fly-fishing event, a mountain bike race at the Dunkeld Country Estate and a festival trail run. It also brings fantastic artists and entertainers to the town. Local businesses pull out all the winter stops, including whiskey, wine, chocolate and cheese tastings, Christmas-themed restaurant evenings, and lots of activities for kids. There is a full programme available on the festival website.
And don’t forget, of course, the luxury of curling up in front of a fire at one of the lovely lodges in the area.
I have my own favourite memories of winter weekends in this town, where the average winter highs vary between about 14°C and 20°C from late May through to late August, with occasional winter snow and night-time temperatures that can drop below zero.
Think fly-fishing (there are so many dams to choose from); spa time (Walkersons also has a lovely day spa); winter birding (you can also spot grey rhebok and oribi); eating and drinking (there are more than 30 restaurants in Dullstroom); beer tasting at the Anvil Ale microbrewery; mosaic workshops at the iCreate Studio; falconry classes at the Dullstroom Bird of Prey and Rehabilitation Centre; horse-riding; clay pigeon shooting; hiking; and photographing wintery scenes. And don't forget, of course, the luxury of curling up in front of a fire at one of the lovely lodges in the area, knowing what winter 'really' feels like. And knowing that it doesn't usually last too long.