Wonders of ‘Africa’s Stonehenge’
Dullstroom - If you have never visited the upper reaches of Mpumalanga, it’s worth making the effort. Gooderson Leisure’s Kloppenheim Country Estate, near Machadodorp and Dullstroom, is the ideal country retreat from which to explore the Highlands Meander and it’s not called the highlands for nothing.
Dullstroom’s high altitude makes it a popular training ground for athletes from all over the world and the landscape is sub-alpine in parts. Very Scottish, with mist, moors, tarns and mountain passes aplenty and some of the most beautiful sights in the country. Take warm clothes, though. I experienced -2ºC at night in October but got sunburned during the day.
Four star Kloppenheim is surrounded by 300 hectares of land and is home to about 600 head of game including zebra, red hartebeest, black wildebeest, mountain reedbok and blesbok as well as South Africa’s national bird, the blue crane.
Kloppenheim offers a range of accommodation options – 14 twin lakeside suites, 20 gorgeous twin estate rooms and 10 elegant two-bedroomed self-contained lodges.
A wellness centre and colonial-style lounge complete the picture. Outdoor facilities include six trout dams, a large swimming pool, a tennis court and a bowling green. Guests can also enjoy game or bird spotting, archery, hiking, horse riding as well as a new 8km biking track.
There are conference rooms and a large theatre for all kinds of events.
On the culinary side, there is the 60-seater Three Twigs dining room, a private function room, a breakfast terrace, the Teddy and Tankard pub and a wine cellar stocked with some of the best local and international wines.
The architecture of Gooderson Kloppenheim Country Estate blends in perfectly with the rocky terrain and mining ambience of the region. The name is inspired by a small village about 30km from Wiesbaden in Germany, where the original developer was born, and translated means “home of the rock”.
The closest town is Machadodorp – officially eNtokozweni which means “place of happiness” in Zulu – which is near the edge of the escarpment and has the Elands River running through it.
The hills around the town are terraced with thousands of stone walls which are thought to have formed part of a vast complex of settlements, fields and roads known as Adam’s Calendar. These 100 000-year-old ruins are known as the “African Stonehenge”, the real lost city of South Africa. The complex links Waterval Boven, Machadodorp, Carolina and Dullstroom, covering an area larger than modern-day Joburg and regarded as the largest ancient city on Earth.
Rockydrift Nature Reserve and its spectacular mountain terrain is close by. A fresh water stream, nourished by the Joubert Spruit tributary of the Elands River, encourages a wide variety of wildlife. The Elands River Falls, with its spectacular 70m drop, is also nearby.
Also within easy reach are the legendary Sudwala Caves, the oldest known caves in the world, which features a spectacular complex of passages and giant chambers in dolomite rocks formed over a period of 3 000 million years. The earliest known life forms are preserved in fossil form. Sudwala Dinosaur Park is a popular kids attraction.
The Highlands Meander and its pristine waterways are home to trout which makes it perfect for flyfishing. For action junkies there’s abseiling, canoeing, hot air ballooning and paragliding.
Back at Kloppenheim, take time to lose yourself, quite literally, in one of very few labyrinths in the country. Many find it a relaxing destresser, as is lolling by the pool with a view over the dam and across the hills and wide open country.
l Call 013 2569148/083 5403709 or see www.goodersonleisure.co.za