Wide awake in Wakkerstroom

Vote for Wakkerstroom!

Get ready to show your support from May 27 at 6pm to June 1 at 12am, when the final voting round for Kwela’s Dorp of the Year takes place. SMS ONLY the town’s name (Wakkerstroom) to 33157. Only 30 sms’s per number, and each sms will cost R1,50. Free sms’s do not apply – and you won’t receive a confirmation after sending.

More on Wakkerstroom

Although unassuming at first glance, Wakkerstroom offers much more than bird sightings and the occasional snowfall in winter.

In the 90s, word about Wakkerstroom’s prolific bird life got out, and the town experienced a tourism boom. Surrounded by high-altitude grassland to one side, and a protected wetland reserve on the other, the area houses a variety of unique biomes – and attracts scores of binocular-wielding, strange hat- wearing enthusiasts.

Not your scene? Never fear, as there’s more. As is often the case with historic towns in picturesque settings, it has also been attracting a steady flow of artists, artisans and foodies, keen to escape the rat race and tackle life at a gentler pace. It has given rise to a community proud of its dorpie and its offerings. Need to know why you should go? Here’s our top reasons…

History

From the Paul Kruger Bridge on the outskirts of town, built in 1893, to the historical St Marks Church and Oppikopi Museum, buffs will marvel at the amount of fabulous buildings and sites to visit. The area experienced its first white settlements in 1853, with the town being established in 1859. Don’t miss the cemetery, which houses the graves of the first settlers, as well as those of British soldiers killed during the First and Second Boer Wars. Ossewakop commemorates the centenary of the Great Trek.

Food

Try The Bistro at Metamorphis (072 252 5781) for Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Portuguese-inspired fare, combined with local art. The Garret Emporium (017 730 0730) offers pastas and light meals, and Birdsong Art Café (073 143 4480) is perfect for families with children.

Honeymoon Valley Cheese (017 730 0331) stocks a variety of goods, including homemade Parmesan, halloumi, cottage cheese, butter, quince jelly, venison products and game pies, rusks and honey. Jeff Lawrence at Suikerbekke Bakery (017 730 0077) makes artisan bread and holds regular courses, while Sue Lawrence is responsible for Kraft Beer.

Art

From pottery to painting and everything else in-between, the arts are alive in Wakkerstroom. On display everyone, the village also hosts an annual Art Fair, on from 15 to 17 June. Some of the local artists will open their studios to the public, and will present hands-on courses, demos and talks.

Up and coming artist Jan Tshikuthula is this year’s guest artist, and will open the event at a street party on the Friday evening. For more, see www.artramblewakkerstroom.co.za

Birding

We said we wouldn’t mention it, but play along. Pack your binos and a flask of tea and settle into one of the four bird hides near Paul Kruger Bridge within walking distance of most cottages and guesthouses. Otherwise, call Lucky Ngwenya (083 227 0128) for a birding tour, or visit the BirdLife South Africa Wakkerstroom Tourism and Education Centre just out of town.

Alpacas

At Mistique Alpacas (017 730 0739), Romney and Fenella van Ryneveld will talk you through these comical animals’ odd traits and why their fleece is so valuable.

Flowers

Buy irises directly from the source at Runnymede Iris Farm (017 730 0482), founded by Brenda Carter almost two decades ago and continued by her daughter Sue Danridge. In winter, you could catch up to 200 different varieties in bloom, but the garden is worth a stop any time of the year.

Walks and trails

Horse riding is a popular pastime in the area and outrides can be booked at the information centre (083 277 8738) in town. Details regarding trails and walks can also be obtained from the centre or online.

First stop!

Stop by the Information Centre on Badenhorst Street before you do anything. They’ll have all the phone numbers, maps and information you need to explore Wakkerstroom.

If you’re a keen birder or want to find out more about the town, the Wakkerstroom Bird & Nature Guide by Warwick and Michèle Tarboton (R90 at the Information Centre) is a great source.

Enquiries:

Contact the Wakkerstroom Tourism Association on 083 277 8738 or find reams of information at www.wakkerstroom.co.za

  AUTHOR
Lowvelder

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