Looking for the perfect post safari destination in South Africa? See why Walkersons Hotel and Spa fits the bill.
Our two-day safari in Kruger Park left us physically and mentally exhausted.
Experiencing a luxury African safari was a life-changing highlight of our South Africa dream vacation with its epic animal sightings and fabulous accommodations. However, we spent tens of hours driving to get there, plus the 5:00 am wake-up calls were really early.
Don’t get us wrong – we’re not complaining. Still, we needed a couple days to replenish our depleted energy before we headed to our third South Africa safari experience. After all, we were still on the hunt for the elusive lion to bring our Big Five mission to completion.
With all this in mind, we headed to Walkersons Hotel & Spa seeking a peaceful spot to rest, recoup and recover.
Located just 10 kilometers from Dullstroom South Africa, Walkersons is a full-service hotel situated on a stunning bucolic property that was previously owned and operated as a farm by the Walkers and later shared amongst the sons. Hence the name Walkersons.
The family property became a hotel in 1933 with less than a dozen rooms. Fast forward to the present – the hotel has expanded to include 27 suites and six self-catering lodges as well as a full-service spa, conference facilities and top-notch kitchen.
Walkersons Hotel and Spa Review
We knew we were in for a treat as soon as we passed through the Walkersons gate. Winding roads led us past the hotel’s spa and helicopter landing spot, eventually taking us to the grand hotel.
As expected with a luxury hotel like Walkersons, hotel staff immediately greeted and cheerfully escorted us to our suite.
A Lakeside suite provided a comfortable base for our two-day respite from safari adventures. The suite offered all of the amenities that we love except for one – wi-fi. Due to its geographic location, Walkersons only provides wi-fi in the main lodge.
Despite the lack of wi-fi, we were comfortable in the Lakeview suite with its ensuite bathroom, fireplace, queen bed, minibar and flat-screen television. For us, though, the suite’s highlight was its private deck with a front row view of the lake.
Though the Steenkampsberg Mountains rudely blocked the view of the sun rising and setting each day, these mountains couldn’t obscure the view of the sky bursting into a colorful array twice daily with the gorgeous purples reflected in the hotel’s small lake directly behind the guest quarters.
Our suite cost 2,250 Rand per person per night (approximately $170 USD) at the time of our visit. This rate includes breakfast, dinner and taxes. It does not include lunch, beverages, phone usage, laundry and gratuities.
Consider renting a mobile wi-fi unit if you need to be connected at all times. Better yet, enjoy the break from constant connectivity. That’s what we did.
Visiting Walkersons is like stepping back into time – a time when people slowed down and stopped to smell the roses. The main lodge offers a plethora of nooks and crannies where visitors can curl up in the evening with a good book or an aperitif.
Renovated in 2016, the hotel is surprisingly modern despite the classic decor.
After four game drives (actually five if you count the one during our first safari experience), we didn’t want a massage. We needed a massage.
Just a short walk from the hotel’s main lodge building, Walkersons Spa fulfilled our back rub needs and desires. Open for 12 years, the spa is an absolute must for all visitors. This spa offers a full range of services including an excellent couples massage which is the service that we enjoyed during our visit.
Sadly, we must include the pool at Walkersons on our shameful list of pools that we did not use during our South Africa Odyssey. Though we didn’t swim in the pool, we enjoyed looking at it and taking photos of its reflective water.
Though Walkersons provides an ideal environment for pure relaxation, the hotel has plenty of activities for guests looking for a more energetic holiday. These activities include hiking, mountain biking, golf and fly fishing.
As it turns out, nearby Dullstroom is the rainbow trout capital of South Africa. Who knew?!
Our first priority was to eat rainbow trout at Walkersons considering the hotel’s proximity to the popular freshwater fish. Though trout is not indigenous to the area, the mild climate has turned Dullstroom into a veritable trout destination.
But trout was just the start of our food journey at Walkersons.
The Flying Scotsman Restaurant
To us, a key part of relaxing means not having to drive to dinner, especially when the roads are winding and dark. That’s one of the main reasons we chose to eat two dinners at Walkersons’ on-site upscale restaurant. The other reason was the quality of the food prepared by Chef Adri van Wieringen and the Walkersons culinary team.
For our first dinner, we went all out with the elegant restaurant’s multi-course menu. We both started our meal with vegetable soup topped with herb cream.
We were initially surprised by the lentil stock since we wrongly expected more of a tomato base. Our surprise quickly turned to satisfaction as we scraped every last soup drop out of our bowls.
We diverged with our main course selections. Though we enjoyed the chef’s take on Braised Pork Belly served with potato Lyonnaise and veggies, we preferred the Crispy Duck served with potato croquettes and topped with blueberry thyme jus.
All good things must come to an end. Such was the case with our tasting menu at The Flying Scotsman. We skipped the cheese for van Wieringen’a Amarula Panna Cotta served with tropical fruit.
We couldn’t resist trying the sweet dessert option made with Amarula, the South African cream liqueur that we discovered during our safaris.
Select a bottle of vintage wine from the hotel’s wine cellar unless you prefer a South Africa wine tasting with your meal.
The hotel’s second restaurant, The Terrace, offers a more casual dining experience. This restaurant features a lighter menu as well as spectacular views of the hotel grounds and lake.
There’s no better way to begin a day at Walkersons than with a leisurely breakfast at The Terrace. This hotel restaurant starts the most important meal of the day with fresh fruit, locally procured fruit yogurt, hot oats with whiskey, cereal and pastries. And that’s just the start of the meal.
If your stomach can handle it, main courses include made-to-order dishes like Eggs Benedict, Eggs Royale, Omelettes and Whiskey Fried Kippers.
Let the hotel staff know if you are leaving early on your day of departure. They can prepare a delightful picnic breakfast for you to take on the road as they did for us.
Assuming you have an appetite after eating a big breakfast, The Terrace serves typical fare like salads and sandwiches for lunch as well as more substantial options incorporating seafood and trout.
Ironically, Walkersons also serves excellent Pasta Puttanesca. As it turns out, the hotel is a popular stop for Italian tourists.
There’s plenty to do near Walkersons if you’re feeling adventurous. Here are some of the fun things that we plan to do during our next visit:
The Walkersons staff can assist you in coordinating any or all of these off-site activities.
Transportation and Logistics
Though locals often make trips from Johannesburg and Pretoria to spend long weekends at Walkersons, the hotel is also a great destination for tourists en route to or from a safari at Kruger National Park. Here’s the skinny on how and when to visit:
Getting to Walkersons Hotel & Spa
Walkersons is halfway on the drive between Johannesburg and Kruger Park just off the N4 highway. Other than driving, flying is also an option thanks to the hotel’s landing strip and helipad.
When to Plan Your Trip
Though the annual weather is mild in the Mpumalanga Highlands, the shoulder seasons of spring and summer are particularly ideal in terms of temperature and precipitation.
About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: August 21, 2017