The Highlands Meander offers a heady mix of outdoor adventures like off-road trails and cliff-climbing combined with gentler pursuits like trout fishing and hiking. Or you could just park off behind a telescope and watch the amazing night skies as the universe displays its sparkly jewels.

Did you know?

Dullstroom is home to all 3 South African species of crane - the blue, crowned and wattled.

 

 

South Africa's Highlands Meander begins on the outskirts of Belfast, a charming high-altitude grassland village on the R540 towards Dullstroom where you can stop and admire a number of historic old wood and iron buildings.

But if you feel like draught beer and pan-fried trout in the high country, then the charming town of Dullstroom beckons. This is the land of critchley hackles and wellingtons - the Highlands Meander region.

They call this area the trout triangle, a land where fly-fishing rules. But trout is not the only reason to visit the area: 3 species of crane call the region home, and astounding wild flowers proliferate. This is also where, if you are very, very lucky, you may glimpse South Africa's only breeding community of black leopards.

But there's more. There are still some old-timers in the district who make there own moonshine. These ‘stokers’ still use their original decades-old kettles to brew witblitz (literally ‘white lightning', a potent form of schnapps) for visitors to taste. But make sure you have a good hangover remedy at hand.

Next stop is the Kwena Basin, two valleys nudged up against the Steenkampsberg range, halfway between Lydenburg and Belfast. This quiet part of Mpumalanga had been a crop- and cattle farming area for decades. Now tourism is in the basin, complete with off-roaders, weekend honeymooners and star watchers who take to the heavens via giant telescopes.

Continue on Mpumalanga's Highlands Meander to beautiful Emgwenya (Waterval Boven), where rock climbers gather and have created special names for each ascent route of the many crags in the area.

Dances With Wombats, Nuns On The Run, Atomic Aardvark, Shrine Of The Sea Monkeys, Route Of All Evil, Curse Of The Armadillo - they all vie with Gretchen Goes To Nebraska for most evocative ascent route title.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Highlands Meander
Tel: +27 (0) 13 254 8902 or +27 (0) 82 565 3402.
Email: tonteldoos.conservancy@icon.co.za

How to get here

From Johannesburg or Pretoria, drive east on the N4 and follow the signs to Belfast and Dullstroom.

Best time to visit

Summer in the highlands is delightful and offers great wild flowers and birding. Winter is also exhilarating, but at these high altitudes it can be extremely cold.

Around the area

Don't miss Dullstroom's annual Tonteldoos Country Festival each April.

Get around

Self-drive is best if you want to fully explore the region

Length of stay

If you love rock climbing, bird-watching, fly-fishing or walking, devote at least 3 days, preferably more, to the region.

What to pack

Birding binoculars, camera, jackets for winter, your favourite flies, kit and rod if you enjoy fishing. Sturdy shoes for hiking.

Where to stay

There are various accommodation options in the area.

What to eat

If you don't catch a trout, worry not. There are plenty on the region's menus, pan-fried, with lemon-butter and almonds...scrumptious! Also, the area seems to specialise in pancakes - perfect for that typical misty weather.