A Brief Overview
Wakkerstroom, which is set in a peaceful valley overlooked by Ossewakop Mountain, is a world-renowned destination. As the second oldest town in the province, Wakkerstroom is brimming with history that is only rivalled by its natural splendour.
The region is home to three major bird habitat types, namely wetlands, grasslands and forests. Birders journey to Wakkerstroom with the hopes of spotting the rare Rudd's Lark, Botha's Lark and other endemic birds from the four bird hides in the tranquil setting of the surrounding wetland reserve. If you're not too clued up on bird watching though, one of the very knowledgeable local guides can help you identify each species.
Wakkerstroom is the second oldest town in the province as Voortrekkers settled at the foot of Ossewakop in the 1850s and the town was proclaimed in 1859. To this day it has retained its small-town air, which makes it so charming. Despite its small size there is much to do in Wakkerstroom besides birdwatching. Speak to Chris Smit, who is the town's former mayor. He has an impressive collection of thousands of Anglo-Boer War as well as 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.
You'll appreciate the fresh country air on a leisurely hike up Ossewakop for a picnic or sundowners with panoramic views and mountain bikers may want to cycle to the top instead. No country retreat is complete without a fishing expedition, Zaaihoek and Martin's Dam offer just that. 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.
The town is small enough to explore on foot or bicycle and the shops along the two main roads (Van Riebeek and Badenhorst Street) give you a sense of the countryside that resides in a time gone by. The shelves are stocked with fresh cow's milk, farm cheese, homemade preserves, cookies and rusks as well as handmade souvenirs. Who knows perhaps you'll even leave with an artwork bought from the Metamorphosis gallery or a restored antique. Wakkerstroom hosts an annual music festival and natural fibre fair and because it's less than three hours' drive from Johannesburg, it makes for a sublime Sho't Left getaway. Don't forget to take along your binoculars, camera and hiking shoes!