10 Little Gems 2017
The JamJar Lounge
Owned and operated by brother and sister Leon Roelofse and Lynette Hinton, the JamJar Lounge in Lydenburg/Mashishing is something of an eclectic hub of art, food, beauty, retail and fun.
Leon is the chef, responsible for the ever-changing menu and varied wine and drinks selection; whilst Lynette is the artist, responsible for much of the artwork on the walls and elsewhere, the strategic positioning of fascinating bric-a-brac and the general ambiance of the lounge.
The JamJar Lounge is an ideal place to celebrate and the venue plays host to many local musicians, art exhibitions, craft markets and private functions. It’s a real “meeting place” and a quirky one at that!
Open Monday (08h00 to 17h00) and Tuesday to Saturday (08h00 to 24h00). Closed on Sundays. 59 Church Street, Lydenburg/Mashishing. 013 265 0165.
Long Tom Toboggan
Situated at Misty Mountain on the Long Tom Pass, this unique, new adventure tourism product offering is designed and built on the principles of the tried and tested European model known as an “alpine coaster” or “sommerrodelbahn”.
It is the first toboggan run of this kind in South Africa - a 1.7km monorail track, winding and whooshing around the mountains in the Long Tom Pass, reaching top speeds of around 45kms/hour offering riders an adrenalin rush like never before.
The Long Tom Toboggan is pure exhilaration and absolute fun. Booking is essential, especially over weekends and public holidays. Minimum Age +/- seven years, depending on height, strength of the child and their ability to manoeuvre the brake lever. Maximum weight 120kgs.
Open daily (09h00 – 17h00). Misty Mountain, Long Tom Pass, 24km from Sabie and 31km from Lydenburg/Mashishing.
Owner and distiller of Rottcher Wineries Frank Theron is taking the business to new heights with a revamped distillery and the launch of a variety of new drinks, including the delicious Limoncello Slush Puppy – with an alcohol content reduced to 7%.
Frank has experimented with gin recipes and is now also producing orange-based gin as well as Clementine Mampoer. He is justifiably proud of Rottcher Wineries’ unique range of fermented and distilled infused orange “wine” products, namely Limoncello liqueur, which is double-distilled and infused with lemon according to Rottcher’s unique recipe; Rottcher Orange; Rottcher Dry Orange; Rottcher Orange and Chilli; Rottcher Orange and Ginger and Rottcher Orange Clementine.
The shop at the Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre in White River, opposite Magnolia Restaurant, is open from Monday to Friday (09h00 to 16h30), Saturday and public holidays (09h00 to 16h00) and Sunday (11h00 to 15h00).
Blydepoort Dam Boat Tour
Most visitors to the Kruger Lowveld will have seen the Blyde River Canyon from the view sites along its western edge, but there is an alternative way of viewing the world’s third largest canyon - by boat.
The one-and-a-half-hour boat cruise will give you a different perspective of the Three Rondawels, the Canyon’s famous hut-shaped hills, and provide excellent views of the 200m Kadishi Tufa waterfall, situated beneath the lip of the canyon and which looks like a weeping face.
A camera and binoculars are essential to view the area’s abundant wildlife, which may include hippo, crocodiles, monkeys and the African Fish Eagle.
Meat & Coffee Company
Following the great success of Pioneer’s Butcher & Grill, the Fick family decided to move the butcher portion of restaurant to the new Junction Mall in Hazyview.
The butcher still offers the same restaurant-quality meat, directly to the public, paying strict attention to the procurement process and aging of its beef. Shoppers can purchase the best South African meat products, such as aged rump, fillet, sirloin, t-bone, rib-eye, boerewors, lamb chops and more, for a special Kruger Lowveld braai. It also sells beef and game biltong and droewors.
The deli section offers visitors the opportunity to purchase proudly locally-produced marmalades, jellies, chutneys, sauces and rusks.
Meat & Coffee Co.’s 60-seater coffee shop offers guest fine Italian coffees, frappes, lattes and fresh fruit smoothies. Its al ’fresco and a ’la carte menus offer all-day breakfasts, light meals, salads and paninis; whilst the bakery’s freshly-baked treats include carrot cake, Death by Chocolate, New York-baked cheese cakes, lemon meringue and bread, tarts and quiches.
Meat & Coffee Co. is a unique venue that embraces everything that we as South Africans love - braaivleis, biltong, coffee and good food.
Kruger National Park’s Afsaal picnic site
The Kruger National Park’s Afsaal picnic spot, located at the junction of the H3 and H2-2, is situated quite centrally and is on the banks of the mostly dry Mthlowa River.
Afsaal is an Afrikaans word that means "a place to break the journey" and the recently upgraded picnic spot offers just that - toilet facilities, braai stands, a shop and you can buy food if you don’t fancy a picnic.
Wildlife at Afsaal is not as plentiful as other picnic spots in the park, but you could get to see Leopard, Vervet Monkey, Chacma Baboon, Bushbuck, Dwarf Mongoose, African Firefinch, Blue Waxbill, African Scops Owl, Crested Barbet, Greater Blue Eared Starling, Cape Glossy Starling, African Grey Hornbill, Southern Yellowbilled Hornbill and the Redbilled Hornbill.
Also be on lookout for a pack of Wild Dog, resident around the Voortrekker; and Lion, especially on the Biyimiti loop around the weir.
Matsamo Cultural Village
At Matsamo Cultural Village, situated just off the R570, 40km from Malalane and close to Jeppe’s Reef border post (Swaziland), you can experience authentic Swazi culture, celebrations and entertainment.
Stay over in traditional beehive-shaped huts in the kraal. While they remain delightfully true to their African aesthetic, they do feature separate toilets, hot and cold water and air-conditioning for your comfort. Each ‘hive' is also nicely secluded, so you can have a private braai or just relax in the rural village setting.
In the village you'll be treated to age-old folk songs, rhythmic dance performances - including the famous Rain Dance - and music with authentic African instruments, as well as traditional Swazi cuisine.
You can also wander on a tour through the village with its many huts and spaces, interacting with the villagers as they go about their daily activities, cultivating their crops, preparing traditional food and fashioning beautiful craft works. There’s a well-stocked curio shop with local crafts, and a spacious restaurant with a stunning panoramic view.
Established in 1904, Kuzzulo’s Emporium in Pilgrim’s Rest offers visitors the opportunity to create memories for life. It’s all about dressing up in period clothing for a fun-filled photoshoot reminiscent of the Gold Rush era.
Whether you choose to pose as a digger or can-can lady, in Victorian get-up or as a prisoner on the run (plus lots of options in-between), you can expect a warm welcome and lots of laughter, no matter how young or old, big or small you are.
Photos are printed immediately, in your choice of size and material, and you only pay for those you choose to print. Booking is recommended over the Easter and December holidays. If photographs aren’t your thing, browse through the delectable variety of unique, vintage-style home décor, gifts, collectable porcelain, old-fashioned toys and sweets.
Open daily (09h00 to 16h00). Shop A51, Main Street, Downtown, Pilgrims Rest.
It’s in those rare havens like Marloth Park where you can expect to see wild animals pop around for a visit during a braai, or while you sip on your morning coffee looking out over serene South African bushveld.
The lush reserve is situated on the banks of the Crocodile River, 20km outside of Komatipoort on the southern border of the Kruger National Park.
It was founded in 1972 as a holiday township, and to this day is a popular stopover for tourists heading to the Kruger National Park, Swaziland and Mozambique.
Freedom of movement is unhindered, and you can walk safely through a wildlife estate teeming with game at your leisure. Expect to see a variety of antelope, giraffe, zebra, baboons and a huge diversity of birdlife. The park also boasts the Big Five minus one (elephant), but they roam the Kruger National Park just across the Crocodile River.
Skukuza Indigenous Plant Nursery
Situated between the Skukuza staff village and the golf course, the Indigenous Plant Nursery is a worthwhile diversion for anyone visiting the Kruger National Park.
Run by SANParks Scientific Services Department, the nursery has been developed as a hub of botanical research encompassing a wide spectrum of programmes that benefit the entire park. It also plays a role in facilitating education to visitors, staff and particularly school learners about the value and unique attributes of our botanical heritage, its role in biodiversity and the need practice plant conservation on a global scale.
The nursery’s Wetlands Boardwalk provides an opportunity for visitors to view a rehabilitated wetland area and the birds and animals that live in this threatened habitat.
The public may purchase plants at the nursery, which is open seven days a week. Access to the nursery is via the Lake Panic turnoff on the Skukuza/Paul Kruger Gate road. During weekends and public holidays, the nursery is run by the Lowveld Honorary Rangers and is open from 08h00 to 16h00 and closed for lunch from 12h00 to 13h00. From Monday to Friday it’s open from 07h00 to 16h00.