Carmen’s Insider Guide to Hilton and the Midlands

Carmen Barends lives in Hilton and is a researcher and Social media marketer by day and a blogger by night, fighting ill-conceived ideas of boredom by providing updates on local adventures. Her blog, Meanderings, is a quirky look at travel and lifestyle topics. Here’s a few of her tips to Hilton and the Midlands.

5 things I love most about Hilton

  1. Community
  2. Misty nights
  3. Lush green trees and fields
  4. Outdoors orientated people
  5. Fireplaces and red wine

A few quirky/cool/fun things only locals know about Hilton

We are spoilt for choice on artisanal coffee, mountain bike trails in the forests that would make most green with envy, plenty of festival spirit.


The least touristy thing to do in Hilton

Go for a cappuccino on your bike with your mates after a session in the planties (forest plantations).

Best place in Hilton to enjoy…

The water: Midmar dam

The mountains/countryside: Take a drive on the Midlands Meander route.

The outdoors: Get out in the forests in Hilton on your mountain bike with a group.

The food: Jaxx for dinner, Uncle Bucks for Pub lunches with a twist, Artisan Cafe for pizza (Hilton).

The general vibe or nightlife: Crossways and Uncle Bucks( Hilton) & St Ives Boma ( Midlands).

Good coffee/tea/wine: Coffee – Ground Coffee House, The Upper Millstone ( Hilton), Steampunk. Wine – Menu at Highgate, Abingdon Wine Estate ( Midlands).

Meet locals: Uncle Bucks or Pot and Barrell ( Hilton).


What makes a city/town special for me

A sense of community spirit and purpose to make the place as good as it can be. A good sense of self, no matter how quirky.

My favourite small town in South Africa and why


If I were to do a 10 day road trip through South Africa, these are the stops I’d make:

Pilansberg, Kruger, Drakensberg zipline, Coffee on the Midlands Meander, The Golden Mile in Durban, Hole in the Wall – EC, A sunset in the Karoo, Table Mountain in the Cape, Paternoster on the West Coast, Richtersveld up North, Maboneng Precinct in Johannesburg.

The ultimate bush experience anyone can have in SA

Spending a week at Mavela Game Lodge in KZN.


The ultimate bush experience anyone can have in Southern Africa ( Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia)

Touch the Earth experience in Pilanesberg

My best beach/island experience in Southern Africa

Mapelane Nature Reserve

The most magical place in South Africa and why

Shayamanzi houseboats – friendly service, good food, lovely game watching from the water and Tiger Fishing.


The best places to visit in South Africa for…

  1. Solo travelers: Uncle Bucks in Hilton 🙂
  2. Couples: Granny Mouse Country House
  3. Families: Brahman Hills
  4. Luxury travellers: Nambiti Reserve
  5. Those seeking off-the-grid spots: Antbear Lodge

Carmen Barends is the founder of Meanderings, a blog where she revisits some of the amazing places and spaces she gets to frequent. So in her meanderings and musings, you may find some treasures to visit and places to see and perhaps happy memories to last a long time. You can find more travel inspiration from her on Facebook.


Photography Credit: Kirsten Rae Hughes

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