Back to Route 71 that links Limpopo’s capital, Polokwane, to Phalaborwa, right on the border of the Kruger National Park — a distance of ±300km. I explored Magoesbaskloof briefly when I stayed at Bramasole Guest House and met with a remarkable lady.
This time I would explore further, using Haenertsburg as a base. On our first drive along the R71, I was told to stop in at the Iron Crown Pub & Grill, so I already knew that this tiny village of fewer than 200 houses has something going for it.
Magoesbakloof is known as the Land of the Silver Mist. This photograph gives some indication of why… mountains, ravines & valleys, forests, lakes and mists.
I was being hosted by Linda Miller who was looking after The Pennefather, which I had noticed during my drive up the main street on my first visit to the village. It’s a complex of two trading posts and six self-catering cottages that celebrate Haenertsburg’s historical mining era.
The cottages draw their names on Haenertsburg’s history — Karl Mauch, Ferdinand Haenert, Doel Zeederberg, Rider Haggard, Long Tom and Prester John — and the trading posts from the long-gone mining companies. The building style is as it was then — Victorian using corrugated iron for walls and roofing — but certainly far better appointed than any miner’s abode!
The cottages do look tiny from the outside (I was really puzzled by them on my first fleeting visit) but they are remarkably spacious and comfortable. Linda also manages Magoebaskloof Tourism and is very knowledgeable about the area.
It may be a village, but Haenertsburg and Magoesbaskloof surrounding it is one of Limpopo’s gems. I’d rate it as one of South Africa’s finest destinations and as strong a destination as any I know in the Western Cape — its strength stems from a collective effort rather than single lodges, etc, that are the norm in Limpopo.
You can easily spend a week here and find you haven’t done all you set out to do. The area clearly caters for tourists, and many of the locals are tourists who decided to make it their home. It’s these successful city businesspeople who have turned sleepy hollows into vibrant communities in so many small towns throughout South Africa.
Magoesbaskloof has no shortage of eating places. I mentioned the Iron Crown Pub & Grill in the village in an earlier post. It is a destination in its own right. But the Pot & Plow out of town surprised me too. A bustling pub & pizzeria that was full of young people the night I was there. I returned the following day to find it also has a popular outdoor area.
That’s when I met Gary Barnes — Pot & Plow’s convivial publican — and Gavin Stanford, who’s claim to fame is that he was South Africa’s first streaker during a boring cricket match at The Wanderers in the 1970s.
I was also invited to join Stuart & Linda Miller for supper at the Red Plate in Haenertsburg. Just after we all ordered, there was a power failure! Not unusual I was told. And Red Plate came up with an alternative menu they could deliver on… and it was very good.
When you explore the area, don’t just follow the R71 because the R528 (which is an alternative route to Tzaneen) is just as scenic and you’ll need to take that to see the Ebenezer Dam and Woodbush Forest Reserve or to go on a canopy tour.
Roads to Cheerio Gardens and Wegraakbosch Organic Cheese Farm lead off the R71.
Two sights in the village shouldn’t be missed. There’s the Long Tom Monument — an the open-air museum in the village. The museum commemorates all the wars which involved local inhabitants and includes the Makgoba War, the Anglo Boer War, and the Border Wars.
The other is the ultimate resting place — the Haenertsburg Cemetery!
There is more on Haenertsburg & Magoebaskloof in our destination pages.