Jail Bird: Chrissiesmeer
Not many people can say that they've stayed in a former jail cell. If you're looking for unusual experiences to check off your bucket list, then this is surely one. The two adjoining, repurposed sandstone jail cells are cosy and have been decorated in a homely manner. The self-catering Jail Bird uses the former charge office as a fully-equipped kitchen and dining area and has an en-suite bathroom.
Fancy a stay in the repurposed Jail Bird in Chrissiesmeer? Photo credit: Iga Motylska
It's located in the heart of Mpumalanga’s grasslands and wetlands region in Chrissiesmeer, which has two large freshwater lakes and over 320 pans. The wetland is home to nearly 200 bird species, making it one of South Africa's foremost birding destinations. It's a popular weekend retreat and city slickers visit to do the 60km self-drive birding route. Chrissiesmeer is also famed for the annual Frog Festival and Wild Flower Festival in December and January respectively. The little town is known for stargazing and is loved by photographers who can take spectacular long exposure photographs of the Milky Way as there is little light pollution.
Chrissiesmeer wetlands region has two large freshwater lakes and over 320 pans. Photo credit: Iga Motylska
Chrissiesmeer is located in the heart of Mpumalanga’s grasslands and wetlands region. Photo credit: Iga Motylska
Double Decker Bus: Carolina
You've driven in a bright red double decker bus many a time, but have you ever spent the night in one? Parked on the lawn outside of Antiques deli and coffee shop, you'll find the quirkiest accommodation in all of Carolina and possibly Mpumalanga. The open-plan bus is equipped with a kitchenette, dining area, bedroom and bathroom. It's well equipped for the summer months with a fan and heaters for the cooler winter months. The bus sleeps four and is ideal for a family getaway, besides the deli is a few steps away from your door.
Stay in this red double decker bus in Carolina. Photo credit: Iga Motylska
The region surrounding Carolina is best known for the Komati Gorge Wildlife Reserve, which is popular for hiking, rock climbing and horse riding as well as fishing, canoeing and mountain biking. Then there’s game spotting and fishing at the nearby Nooitgedacht Nature Reserve, the nearby ghost town of Bonnefoi, and the concentric stone-walled ruins of the Bakoni civilisation – the tribe that inhabited the area for 500 years until the early 19th century.
The riverside beach at Komati Gorge Nature Reserve in Mpumalanga. Photo credit: Iga Motylska
There are hundreds of concentric stone-wall ruins that were built by the Bakoni civilisation in the Carolina region. Photo credit: Iga Motylska
Welgelegen Manor: Balfour
Welgelegen Manor was designed by none other than Sir Herbert Baker – the same architect who designed the Union Buildings and Groote Schuur Hospital, among numerous other historic buildings across South Africa. The classic English manor house is set among a rose garden and has been transformed into a five-star guest house. Here you can play croquet or a game of lawn tennis before retreating to the pool deck for sundowners.
Welgelegen Manor House was designed by famed architect Sir Herbert Baker. Photo credit: Welgelegen Manor House
Balfour is peaceful, so book a private tour of the surrounding region where you'll learn about the history of the surrounding region that also stretches to Greylingstad, Val and Villiers. Otherwise take a walk among the surrounding koppies or visit Fortuna Resort nearby where you can swim, try your hand at fishing, go quad biking or play a round of putt-putt golf with the kids.
Fortuna Resort offers accommodation, fishing, quad biking and other recreational facilities. Photo credit: Iga Motylska
Fortuna Resort near Balfour in Mpumalanga. Photo credit: Iga Motylska
Jail Bird: Chrissiesmeer
Double decker bus guesthouse at Antiques at Voortrekker Street
Nooitgedacht Dam Nature Reserve
Komati Gorge Nature Reserve
Private tours (Highveld Visitors Centre)
Private tours of Balfour, Greylingstad, Villiers and Val region