Nestled in a beautiful valley between Ermelo, Piet Retief and Newcastle lies the modest but vibrant little village of Wakkerstroom.  Participating in the DORP VAN DIE JAAR 2018 competition, it has outsmarted the much bigger towns of Secunda and Barberton in the semi- finals to become the winning dorp in Mpumalanga.  This was announced on Sunday 8 April on Kyknet’s Kwela programme.   As this is a national competition, there will be 8 other dorpe voted in, representing 7 regions in South Africa and 1 in Namibia.  Viewers are encouraged to vote for their favourite dorp at the end of May so that the national title can be awarded.

      Through the years Wakkerstroom has become known as the jewel of Mpumalanga and would therefore be a worthy winner of the title.  This quaint little town has undergone a metamorphosis over the last 15 years,  becoming a tourist attraction par excellence.  It has however miraculously remained untouched by commercialisation.  Hard to believe, but there are only 2 tarred roads, no traffic lights and no big name retail outlets.

      Wakkerstroom makes for a perfect weekend destination as it is only a 3  1/2 hour drive from Johannesburg.  It is also the perfect stopover en route to and from the Drakensberg, Kruger Park and various KZN parks.  This dorpie is guaranteed to rejuvenate body, mind and soul as it offers the peace and tranquility city dwellers so long for.  The large wetland, the beautiful open areas of high altitude grassland and the rolling hills and mountains provide varied habitats for the 350+species of birds that have been recorded in the area.  It is therefore no wonder that Wakkerstroom has become a world recognised birding destination.

      With the main industry being focused around tourism, the village has a variety of accommodation establishments on offer, ranging from camping at the old railway station to staying at up-market guest houses and lodges.  So, there is something for every need and budget.  The same applies to restaurants and shops.Entertainment is also at hand with regular events being organised for the visitors: the annual music festival, art and craft rambles, artisan markets, rose shows, etc.

      Wakkerstroom is steeped in history and for those so inclined, there are wonderful opportunities to relive that history, be it by going on a self- guided tour through the village or visiting historical sites and national monuments.

      For the more energetic there are a variety of walks and trails which show off the natural beauty of our surroundings.  And for those who like adventure – Wakkerstroom is the place to be for cycling, mountain and off-road biking!

      The final voting in the competition will take place from 18h00 on 27 May till 12h00 on 1 June.  The winner will be announced on Kwela on 17 June.  Be sure to cast your vote and make Wakkerstroom not only the jewel of Mpumalanga but also of the whole of South Africa.