Van Reenen, Drakensberg

Van Reenen’s Pass, a sweeping pass renowned for its slippery and precarious roads (particularly as a result of the frequent misty conditions), and some of the most gorgeous views, is the main route through the Drakensberg Mountains connecting Jo-burg and Durban with Van Reenen, a little town perched on the high summit of the Pass, between Harrismith and Ladysmith on the N3.

Van Reenen has a history steeped in the Anglo-Boer War, and a lookout point, called Windy Corner, about 3 kilometres out of town with views over the mountains and lower lying regions - virtually all that there is to the town’s credit, apart from the Llandaff Oratory - a small chapel with only eight seats built by a father in memory of his son, and ostensibly the smallest Roman Catholic church in the world.

South Africans and travellers alike pass through this part of the world on the way to somewhere, and seldom stop to appreciate the unique mountainous area, the Battlefields Route sprawled out in the valley below filled with a unique charm, arts and crafts, hiking trails and Zulu culture.

If you’ve ever stopped on an early morning trip to or from Johannesburg - most South Africans stop at the bottom of Van Reenan’s Pass at some point to refuel as it is regarded as the halfway mark - then you can appreciate the cool mornings, peppered with moist clouds and the sharp smell of petrol. Add a bitter coffee and a soggy toasted sandwich to the mix and nostalgia is born.

Travellers' Reviews

2 Reviews from travellers. All reviews are verified.

Verified reviewexcellent

Van Reenen has a most interesting history with many places of genuine interest. Unfortunately very little has been documented about this lovely little village. I believe that van Reenen originated at the small farm halfway down the pass called Wyford. Wyford was a trading post established in 1874 by Job Portsmouth to cater for the needs of the hundreds of transport riders that used the wagon trail that connected the Free State and Natal. Other areas of interest that must be visited are the newly developed Ingula Pumped storage facility, the largest Hydro Powered electricity generation plant in the country, the Kidston and Gladstone aircrash site, the Moorddraai incident grave the site of the murder of the Pretorius family in 1865, he was a brother of Andries Pretorius the Voortrekker Leader. Then there is The Llandaff Oratory the smallest church in SA only seating 8. One must visit Nelsons Kop and see the large vulture population and Rensburgs Kop the scene of the tragic death by shooting of young Rensburg who fell down the mountain. Close by this mountain is the famous Lost Valley where five families chose to live their lives in seclution. I recommend that one spends at least three days in the area and visit these sites, info can be obtained from the local tourist office at the Johnson trading store near the Caltex Garage.

Gillis van Schalkyk (Johannesburg)

Verified reviewgood

I love to stop at Van Reenen on roadtrips. It's such a place of solitude and peace. Just perfect!

Kristen (Sutherland)

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