“On earth, there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it” – Jules Renard
Kaapsehoop is the Lowveld’s own version of Sleepy Hollow. When the mists descend upon the village and its rocky surrounds, the very real sounds of the beat of horse hooves can conjure images of the lives of those who once roamed the mountainside. But for all of its real and imagined mystery, Kaapsehoop is the perfect escape from the rushed world we all find ourselves a part of.
A leisurely 30-minute drive from Nelspruit, up the steep, winding mountain roads takes you into one of the worst kept secrets in our part of the world. Kaapsehoop.
It is a special place, and thanks to the residents who keep the vision of the village alive, we all have the chance to step into another world and inhale the pure mountain air whenever we need a calming breather.
One visit is never enough, and because of its gorgeous scenery and charming people, there are more than enough reasons to return as often as possible.
Through the looking glass into the past
In its heydey, Kaapsehoop boasted two hotels, numerous bars, around fifteen shops, a school, and a post office. Along with the corrugated iron cottages and clay-brick houses, it made the ideal place to live at the time, especially when enticing precious gold was discovered in the surrounding hills. Once gold was discovered on the farm known as Berlyn in 1880, Kaapsehoops’ development was unstoppable.
In 1882 there were just 250 diggers in the area, all in search of their fortunes, but within 2 years that number had grown to a staggering 4000, an immense number when considering the size of the living area. And as to be expected, due to the size of the population, a jail was needed. But 270 Pounds was an exorbitant amount to pay out back in the day so prisoners were chained to the rocks instead.
During the earliest years, the town gained the nickname of “Duiwels Kantoor”, a name likely to have been earned by the eerie look of the town once the mist rolls in. But once the Government buildings were erected in 1885, the town was to be given a new name.
And in 1886, the town was christened Kaapsehoop.
Today, Kaapsehoop is an incredible historical attraction, a living historical monument and home to many interesting residents.
When you decide to spend a day, or a few if you are one of the lucky ones, there is plenty that you can see, do and experience. Whether it is a slow stroll through the village, admiring the buildings, a trip up into the rocky landscape and then indulging in a delicious meal, or taking a drive out to the pear orchard for a picnic; Kaapsehoop is filled with fun things to do. With unbelievably magnificent trees all around the area, and of course the stunning rock formations, hiking trails are one of the best ways to indulge in a day out.
Some of the must visit hiking trails include these:
This is a 22km, 2-day trip, and an easy circular hike which starts at either Kaapsehoop village or Barrets Coaches. Along the way, you will find a standard hut which can accommodate up to 16 people. With this hike, you will have more than enough time to explore the village and surrounds.
This is a 30Km, 2-day trip which also has an easier circular route which begins at Kaapsehoop village and ends at Coetzeestroom. The hut that is found along the way accommodates up to 16 people. The route will take you along the edge of our gorgeous escarpment, through bush and grassland. It also passes through historical mines and the village itself. And there is plenty of nature to enjoy along the way.
The final exciting hike that you can journey on is this 27km, 2-day hike which starts at the Barrets Coaches and ends at Wattles. Again, the standard hut for 16 people is available along the way. This hike will wind through the indigenous forest, follow along the escarpment to the Bannisters Gold Workings and the Starvation Creek.
If you want to do any of these hikes you will need permission from SAFCOL.
Where the wild horses roam
Wild horses roam the area freely and really need no introduction. But the Kaapsehoop Horse Trails are not about the free-running horses. Horseback riding through the village and through the rocky landscape is a wonderfully freeing experience. Whether it is an hour long ride or a three day one, this is one of the very best activities in Kaapsehoop. And the great thing about these trails is that you don’t have to be an experienced rider.
Kaapsehoop is a home away from home for many a Lowvelder. Lush mountain forests allowing you to escape from reality and a warm drink at a friendly restaurant waiting for you upon your return from your soul searching, the best way to find yourself is to visit Kaapsehoop.