Mpumalanga, the place where the sun rises

One of the best things about fast-paced living in Gauteng is being able to leave it all behind for a couple of weeks, once a year during summer, pursuing the slower lifestyle, cooler climate and soft-on-the-eye landscapes of the country’s coastal regions.

But unless your bank balance has by some modern-day miracle remained exempt from the current economic calamity, the past December is probably not one of the holidays you’ll look back upon with fond memories of oyster-schucking and oceanside champagne sipping.

If this indeed is the case, fear not northerners! There are many prime eateries offering exquisite surrounds (sans the big blue, of course) just a few hours’ drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Grab a few friends and take the scenic route to the place where the sun rises, recommends Annette Klinger.

Blue Mountain Lodge
“Exceptional views and rolling gardens give this resort
a majestic look. Now under the wing of Forever Resorts, this restaurant offers a five-course table d’hôte. It uses fresh produce from the estate, which farms avocados, litchis and coffee. Expect the freshest of fish, a wide variety of meat and game, and fresh homemade pastas and breads. The emphasis is on fine dining with attention to detail and quality.”(MBH)

2 Chefs Bistro
“Quality entrées include the delicious fresh local trout; the Thai green curry and ostrich fillet are delicious, healthy mains options. The meals are hearty and take advantage of seasonal produce. All in all, great food at affordable prices.” (MBH)

Peebles Country Retreat
“This beautiful country hotel is family owned and set in the majestic surrounds of Dullstroom. Breakfast is scrumptious with a variety of options – think flapjacks with crispy bacon and maple syrup, yummy omelettes and French toast. The menu is designed to incorporate the availability of organically grown seasonal produce from their farm and naturally this includes fresh trout.”(MBH)

The Three Twigs at Kloppenheim
“Spoil yourself with the full-service breakfast served in the enclosed terrace or a decadent four-course dinner in the Three Twigs restaurant. The à la carte features contemporary fare that sumptuously combines traditional South African with European flair. Style and elegance provide a venue with class, good service, exquisite views and country tranquillity.” (MBH)

Orange Restaurant
“French classics lay the foundation for modern dishes here. An absolute must is to create your own salad from the vast selection of fresh seasonal vegetables and delicious cheeses available. The sweet and sticky duck with five spices and onion marmalade is bound to satisfy. At this casual chic spot, customers have a choice of eating inside a finely designed restaurant or outside on the patio with fantastic views of Nelspruit.” (MBH)

Jatinga Country Lodge
“A tranquil country estate with beautiful colonial gardens, abundant bird life and the White River running through the garden.  Breakfast and lunch are served alfresco in the beautiful tranquil garden surrounds and dinner is set in the serene dining room. Favourites on the menu are tempura prawns or phyllo-wrapped baked camembert, followed by pan-seared ostrich fillet with a cherry sauce or the interesting pistachio-encrusted line fish. The old-style desserts, such as cherries jubilee with kirsch and Amarula ice cream or baked alaska, are great.” (MBH)

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