KwaZulu Natal DestinationsMatatiele, Drakensberg
The village is situated in the shadow of the Matatiele Mountain in the former ‘no man’s land’ that during the latter part of the 19th century was the home of horse thieves, gun runners and smugglers - something like an African version of the Wild West.
The name Matatiele comes from the Sotho words ‘matata’, meaning wild ducks, and ‘ile’, meaning gone and taken together this conveys a message that the ducks have flown - not hard to believe as once this was a place where pools, marshes, vleis, pans, lions and elephant roamed freely alongside a host of waterfowl. Some 40 to 60 bird species are still in evidence, but most of these are high altitude birds atop Matatiele Mountain.
Today the town is essentially a farming community, the museum located in what was initially a garage, an auction room, a Dutch Reformed Church and finally a telephone exchange, before becoming a national monument.
Local communities, in an initiative to develop tourism as a source of income, accommodate travellers in traditional African guest houses, and include cultural village tours and hiking trails as part of the package.
The Matatiele Nature Reserve lies just south of town. It includes the Matatiele commonage, one of the few places in South Africa where Rudd's lark makes its home.
To do in the area: Mehloding Hiking Trail, off-road motorbiking (Route 56), mountain biking, 4x4 trails, fly-fishing (Matatiele is water-rich with plenty of well stocked farm dams and lakes), Ongeluksnek Nature Reserve, Mountain Lake Nature Reserve, Wilfred Bauer Nature Reserve (see the unique cross donkey and zebra known as a zedonk), Mariazell Mission and the annual Matat Fees (outdoor festival)
Matatiel is also one of the few places in the country you can find 100% organic red meat from the local farms. And contact Ntabase B&B for authentic traditional Xhosa meals.