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Travel: Sabie and surrounds, Mpumalanga

The popular tourist destination of Sabie lies about four hours’ drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria. This forestry town on the banks of the Sabie River in Mpumalanga is very well known among caravanners as it is only 64 km from the Kruger National Park.

There are probably about 40 camping resorts to choose from in a 100km radius around Sabie. And this area was exactly where I was headed, in a brand new Mahindra Next Generation Pik Up towing a just-launched Imagine Cruiservan. You could say it was a combination of Indian spices and good old South African braai.

My mission would take me to the fly-fishing haven of Dullstroom, over the Long Tom Pass, through the Makobulaan Nature Reserve, and on through Sabie and Nelspruit.

This was a journey for the books: I met a Springbok legend, I was able to taste samples of the largest whisky selection in the Southern hemisphere, and I saw 1 500-year-old African artefacts − and those were just a few of the highlights.

My journey started in Pretoria, where the Marketing Manager of Mahindra, Hans Greyling, handed me the keys to a new white Mahindra S10 Pik Up. The S10 indicated that my vehicle was a top of the range, high-spec double cab.

I couldn’t take my eyes off this “next generation” Pik Up, as they call it… the vehicle looks like it is growling: almost baring its teeth! The aggressive, rugged front-end styling really gives the Mahindra a unique look.

It’s a good thing I was driving a vehicle with some grunt, as my next stop was to hitch up the new model from Imagine Caravans. You would have had a sneak peek at this caravan in the September 2017 issue of Caravan & Outdoor Life, but now it was time to put it to the test.

The Cruiservan (the third model in Imagine’s range) is a big van: 6 metres in length, but only just over 2 metres in height. That is, until you lift the electric roof to add another metre or so of headroom space!

 

So with my rig all set, I spent the night in Pretoria, ready to head out early the next day.

DULLSTROOM – ELANDSKLOOF TROUT FARM

My first destination, Elandskloof Trout Farm, is a campsite I know well.

Elandskloof, in the historic kloofs and hills of Dullstroom, has been in the Combrink family for generations and was the first trout fishing farm in the area.

On my arrival, Celeste Combrink, a perpetual dynamo of energy, said, “Make yourself at home… chose any spot you like… we are right in the middle of sheep shearing…” and dashed off in her silver Mahindra bakkie.

The campsite is down a long tree-lined drive past a series of trout dams. I love driving through the farmyards of Elandskloof. On your left are the workshops, the small farm shop, and a herd of flapping white geese somewhere on the werf. On your right is Celeste and Kobus’s small stone cottage, and, just a way on from the cottage, a horde of black pigs in their large sand-stone walled enclosure. There’s also a battle site from the Boer War on the farm. If you look carefully, you may perhaps still find cartridge cases from that period.

Elandskloof has more than 800 antelope on the farm, including Eland, Blesbok, Zebra, Springbok, Black Wildebeest, Oribi, Ostrich, and even Fallow Deer.

Always eager to see what vehicles are parked in the big open-sided shed, I snooped around and found a gleaming restored Unimog, an old green Land Cruiser station wagon from the early 70s, a Volvo, and 1940 Chev.

Close by in the shearing shed, a team of shearers from Lesotho clipped away at lightning speed. The shearing is all still done by hand.

After spending an hour or so photographing these skilled men, I prised Celeste away from her beloved sheep and asked her to open the farm shop. From my previous stay, I knew that all their meat comes straight off the farm. I stocked up the freezer section of the caravan’s National Luna with boerewors, pork sausages and lamb chops.

With my camp set up and my provision sorted, I set about exploring. Dullstroom is just 15 km away, so that’s where I headed to visit Wild About Whisky. This spot has the largest whisky selection in the Southern hemisphere, with over a thousand whiskies to choose from.

It’s well worth a visit even if you’re of the abstemious persuasion: consider it educational. But I remembered something about ‘when in Rome…’ so I did enjoy a wee dram myself. I think I’ll choose a teetotaller as a travelling companion next time and settle in for a 30+ tasting session.

However, what I could safely overindulge in was my choice on the menu at Harries Pancakes Restaurant in town. My Banting diet could wait.

There’s plenty to do in Dullstroom: go on hikes, or visit restaurants, trout fishing shops, galleries, nature reserves, the rehabilitation centre for birds of prey on the outskirts of town, and plenty more.

For the full story, grab the December edition of Caravan & Outdoor Life.
By Richard van Ryneveld

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