Mpumalanga DestinationsKaapsehoop, Lowveld Legogote
The first thing that strikes you about Kaapsehoop is its quaintness. Set atop a mountain pass on the Drakensberg escarpment above Nelspruit, it comes slowly into view, as if appearing out of the mists of time.
Rain and cloud are often the case at this altitude, and the town has distinct Brigadoon-like leanings, as a result:
The village streets are gravel, their passage lit by lantern-style lights; the signs indicating street names have been especially designed to set the scene; there are a series of quaint shops and eateries; and the climate is moderate - making it a lot cooler up here during summer whilst the Lowveld bakes.
To add to the village's appeal there is a herd of wild horses that makes the plateau its home. The explanation for their presence is that they descend from horses sent with the British troops stationed here during the South African War. The village is particularly regardful of their horses (there are about 200 of them) that range at will among the houses and on the plateau beyond.
To add further glamour to the already fairytale character of Kaapsehoop, there are blue swallows, as well as a series of ancient stones, known as Adam's Calendar, that suggest an ancient and mystical history of mankind.
Blue swallow are extremely rarely seen in South Africa. Only 131 were sighted during the 2005 bird census, 34 of which were in Mpumalanga, mostly at Kaapsehoop. Part of the escarpment is declared a blue swallow natural heritage site.
From up here there are incredible views over the Lowveld, particularly of the Barberton valley, known as De Kaap Valley when the town first originated. It was also known as the 'valley of death' because of the prevalence of malaria, which Kaapsehoop evaded (and continues to do so), because of its altitude.
Kaapsche Hoop, the original Dutch spelling of the town's name, came into existence as part of the 1873 gold rush. Its very name means 'hope of the Cape', referring to prospector's hopes for gold. But it also refers to the shape of the Kaapsehoop ridge; a cape that bulges out from the Drakensberg escarpment into the Lowveld.
There are hikes in the Berlin state forest, horse riding trails in the area, and horse carriage rides available to visitors.
For an in depth review of the delightful town of Kaapsehoop, see our article at "Kaapsche Hoop ~ wild horses, blue swallows, historical buildings and time away".