09 September 2011

Kaapse Hoop - A Mountain Gem

Kaapse Hoop – A Mountain Gem

First View of Kaapse Hoop
A 25 km drive from Nelspruit, in Mpumalanga, brings you to the little gem of Kaapse Hoop situated high on the escarpment (approx. 1485 m above sea level). The drive from Nelspruit seems uphill for most of the way which I suppose it is given the height above sea level! It's a village which seems to have residents with a wonderful sense of humour, going by the various signs! My first prize award goes to:

 "Holey Road" "Please Fasten Seat Belts and Remove Dentures"!!

At first sight, from the road, the village seems to be just a few houses, but drive into the village and you will be amazed at how spread-out it is. Whilst still tiny, the houses are gorgeous, many still with the old corrugated roofs reminiscent of the mining era. There are a number of modern houses but they are so well maintained that they do not blot the landscape. In my humble opinion, that is. Perhaps the purists will not be happy?

This was originally a mining town as gold was discovered here in 1882 and the old mining implements are visible around town. There is even a small store selling old mining stuff. However, as gold in Johannesburg was discovered in 1886, just 4 years later, the small mining town did not flourish.
Old Mining Equipment

In recent years it seems to have revived as a tourist destination with many of the houses being accommodation establishments. There are numerous restaurants lining the main road so take your pick! We opted for the Koek & Pan where we sat in the shade of the upstairs balcony to enjoy an ice cold beer and a savoury pancake.

Koek & Pan Restaurant serves sweet and savoury pancakes!
Walk the village, you will a few arty shops, a pub or two, evidence of wedding preparations and  the locals watching you in amazement (especially with a camera!)

They have an old train carriage which was part of the "White Train" used for the 1947 British Royal tour - this carriage was used by the queen. Unfortunately, there is a big “No Entry” sign so you cannot go in and recline as if you are royalty.
Pity – it is most probably the closest I am going to get!

White Train for 1947 British Royal Tour

The escarpment is also a hiker’s paradise but the hike past the hut is for serious walkers as the boulders that you have to scramble over are pretty big and uphill. Given my “knees”, I decided to turn back!! But it is most probably an easy climb for the fit. There is also an easier walk on the escarpment as you come into town – this is signposted as easy for all fitness levels – unfortunately, we did not have time to try this.  

The village seems perfect for those lazy (or energetic) week-ends away from the city – cute accommodation, enough restaurants and a peaceful environment for relaxation. I would imagine that it is a very popular village during the summer months. The weather would be cooler in winter but that’s great for hiking.

Annabelle's Shoppe

The Gold Mine Collectables

The aloes in the region flower during July and August and the warnings are out re the wild horses who roam the area.  The ones we saw looked pretty tame, well-fed and hardly wild. I think they are waiting for those wanting horse-riding outings!

All in all, a great week-end retreat with many accommodation establishments. If you are juts visiting for the day, don't be in a hurry - take time out to savour the fresh air, potter in the small shops, enjoy the resident humour and savour the food!
Be patient - it's that kind of village!

Pumpkins on the roof

This village no longer lives up to it's original mining name of " The Devil's Office" (Duiwels Kantoor) so it's quite safe to visit even if the angel appears to be running away!

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