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8 Reasons To Love Wakkerstroom

 
03 August 2015 by Iga Motylska

You simply can't deny it, Wakkerstroom has all the elements that make it an ideal Sho't Left destination for a family weekend away or a road trip with friends. It's located in a peaceful valley in Mpumalanga's wetland region, is famed as a birding destination and has an adventurous streak too.

Caption: Flowers at full bloom with Osswalop in the distance. Photo credit: Iga Motylska

 

Wakkerstroom is small enough to explore on foot or bicycle and the quaint shops, along the two main roads (Van Riebeeck and Badenhorst Street), give one a sense of a countryside dorpie that resides in a time gone by. Who knows perhaps you'll leave with an artwork bought from Metamorphosis Gallery or a restored antique from Just Because. When you visit don't forget to take along your binoculars, camera and hiking shoes!

 

Wakkerstroom epitomises the South African Platteland. Photo credit: Iga Motylska

Mountain Biking

Hire a mountain bike and cycle up Ossewakop. If you're looking for something a little more challenging there's a 14km route around the wetland, a 22km route as well as a 50km route that takes you to Zaaihoek Dam.


Cycling up Ossewakop is quite a feat. Photo credit: Iga Motylska

Hiking

Appreciate the fresh country air on a leisurely hike up Ossewakop, there are numerous pathways to the top. This is the spot for a picnic or sundowners as it has panoramic views of the valley below. There are also three historic walks around town, namely the War Memorial, the Harvey Greenacre and the Court House walk, inquire at the Crow's Nest in town.


There are numerous hiking and walking trails in Wakkerstoom, Ossewakop is just one. Photo credit: Iga Motylska

Fishing

You have to agree that no country retreat is complete without a fishing expedition, so grab your fishing rods and head off to Zaaihoek or Martin's Dam, both of which are located a short distance outside of Wakkerstroom.


Views overlooking Zaaihoek Dam. Photo credit: Iga Motylska

The quirky shops and cafes

The shelves of the local diary and bakery are stocked with fresh cow's milk, goat's cheese, homemade preserves, hot-out-the-oven cookies and rusks as well as handmade souvenirs. Enjoy coffee on the stoep at one of the many coffee shops along Van Riebeeck Street.


The Crow's Nest along Van Riebeek Street. Photo credit: Iga Motylska

Birding

The region is home to three major bird habitat types: wetlands, grasslands and forests. Birders journey to Wakkerstroom with the hopes of spotting the rare Rudd's Lark, Botha's Lark and Yellow-Breasted Pipit among other endemic birds from the four bird hides that are located in the tranquil setting of the surrounding wetland reserve. If you're not too clued up on birds though, one of the very knowledgeable local guides can help you identify each species.


A bird hide in the Wakkerstoom Wetland Reserve. Photo credit: Iga Motylska

Alpacas

Even though the area is predominantly known for sheep and cattle farming, children will be fascinated by a visit to the alpacas at Mistique Alpacas. Here they can feed them and learn more about these South American mammals, which are shorn annually for their fleece. And if you're lucky enough, like me, you may even see some new borns.


Pay a visit to the aplacas at Mistique Alpacas. Photo credit: Iga Motylska

Oppikoppi Private Museum

Don't leave before visiting Chris Smit, the former town mayor. He has an impressive collection of thousands of Anglo-Boer War and World War I and II memorabilia in his home, which has been converted into a private museum called Oppikoppi. He will point you in the direction of the nearby cemetery across the street, where fallen war heroes lie and will also tell you about De Oude Stasie (the old train station), which has been transformed into a restaurant and camping site.


Oom Chris Smit was Wakkerstroom's mayor for many years. Photo credit: Iga Motylska  

Festivals

Wakkerstroom hosts an annual music festival each March and natural fibre fair in April. And because it's less than three hours' drive from Johannesburg why not make it a weekend getaway.


The annual natural fibre fair in Wakkerstroom. Photo credit: Wakkerstroom.co.za

Details

For more information about Wakkerstroom, visit www.wakkerstroom.co.za, email info@wakkerstroomtourism.co.za or call: 017-730-0742/ 083-462-2729.