My Life List to Wakkerstroom

Wakkerstroom Wetlands
Wakkerstroom Wetlands

Spending a morning in Wakkerstroom is not nearly enough time to burn up all the rare species of entertainment that’s on offer in this small pastoral village. But it’s enough to compile my life list for our next Sho’t Left. One could say I’m (tw)itching to return to:

Wow hide
Inside the WOW  hide
  • Visit the 4 bird hides: 2 Hides on the western side of the wetland (Crane Hide and Iain Drummond Memorial Hide) and 2 Hides on the northern side of the wetland (Clive Beck Hide and WOW Hide)
Hides
Hides
  • Visit a birding route. There is a choice between:
    • Grasslands birding routes
      • Zaaihoek Dam & Pump Station route
      • Fickland  Pan
      • Amersfoort Road
      • Utrecht Road
      • Ossewakop
    • Forest birding route
      • Retirement Forest (Private Property –  accessible with a bird guide)
Grasslands birding routes
Grasslands birding route –  Amersfoort Road
  • See one of the 16 Specials (birding talk for special birds to the area)
  • Or at least one of the three endemic species which are restricted to Southern Africa’s grasslands – Rudd’s Lark, Botha’s Lark and Yellow-breasted Pipit.
View of Wakkerstroom from Wow Hide
View of Wakkerstroom from Wow Hide

Birding is hard work. And once I’m a little less of a dude (that’s Twitcher vocab for a novice birdwatcher – Twitchers’ vocabulary by Wikipedia) I fully intend to quench my thirst and satisfy my hunger at one of the 15* Restaurants / Coffee Shops / Shops that’s listed below in no specific order (unless you have pedantic tendencies, then you’ll notice it is alphabetical 😉

  • Birdsong Art Cafe & Taverna {all day meals, dinner, desserts}
  • Bistro {all day tapas, usual dinner menu}
  • De Oude Stasie Pub {lunch and dinner}
  • House of Baxburg {daily light meals & “specials”}
  • Kairos Retreat {tea garden}
  • KC’s Coffee Shop at Bits ‘n Pieces {boerewors rolls, breakfast, sarmies}
  • Snowy’s {biltong, scones, ploughman’s platters}
  • Mini Market {hamburgers/russians & chips}
  • Mooi {iced teas}
  • The Crow’ ‘s Nest {coffee and all day breakfast rolls}
  • The Garret Emporium {breakfast and lunch}
  • The Old  Mill {cold drinks}
  • The Wild Turkey {cheeses, biltong, take-away meals}
  • Tudor Rose {lunch and dinner}
  • Wakkerstroom Country Inn {breakfast, lunch & dinner

* if your establishment isn’t listed, pop me a mail and I’ll add you in an Update

Shopping
Shopping

Most of these eateries are either in or next to some of the most delightful shops that I’ve come across. And I know,  deep down in my heart, that a person should not judge a shop by its window dressing, but these ladies of the ball (they remind me of Victorian Dames) had me at first sighting interested in the wares they peddle.

So what usually happens when you spend time in a small village,  like Wakkerstroom, is that you get to talking.  ‘Cause relationships are the currency of life’.

I had a flashback to childhood and going to town on a Saturday morning chatting with friends along our shopping route, growing up in a small town myself, while I walked the streets early in the morning before the festivities of the day started.

And even though none of the shops were open for business (with the exception of Suikerbekkie Bakkery whose seductive sugary smells had me sniffing around the windows) I fell into conversation with Nonhlanhla, an employee at one of the places on Main Road.

For a second time since my arrival the previous evening I was astonished at the report from townsfolk that the crime here is non-existent and that it is perfectly safe for a solo female traveller to explore the area without any cause for concern.

History
History

And the reason for this can be explained by Oom Chris Smit, a living legend,  historical buff and collector of Anglo-Boer War memorabilia (a visit to Opikopi Private Museum curated by Oom Chris should make your list of must-do activities).

See, in the short time that I had the fortune of being in the presence of this remarkable man, I learned so much. Oom Chris has spent 75 of his 83 years on earth in Wakkerstroom as mayor (16 years), town clerk (14 years) and commando member (44 years). {Note to the pedants out there adding the aforementioned figures, I did not ask about the missing year ;)}

I get the profound sense that I could sit and listen to Oom Chris telling stories about the bygone years and not get bored. Although these stories are filled with dates, they are brimming with colourful characters too. And Oom Chris just knows how to bring the tales to life. I am particularly interested in the ones where Oom Chris gets a twinkle in his eye.

Crafts
Crafts

Meeting people, often leads one to being shown what they keep themselves busy with and earn a living from. Pictured above is Thuli, whose husband made her this loom from reclaimed wood and old batteries. Thuli and Lizzy make these grass mats on commission which get used as gifts in customary law at the joining together of a husband and wife.

Pictured below is Muzi, who makes these carved avians from dry willow wood found in the area.

But this is more than a hobby or a source of income. There is a subtle artistry in the designs of these products, that could easily be dismissed by the untrained eye.

Crafts
Crafts

So if you are in the market for momentoes, pop into the Wakkerstroom Tourism Info Centre and get the contact details for the local artists. You might even find more mysteries to add to your own list.

Culture
Wakkerstroom is anything but dull

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