Matjiesfontein, Karoo

Matjiesfontein lies just off the N1 past Touwsriver en route to Laingsburg, in the Klein Karoo.

The highway does not pass through the gorgeous little Victorian town that is also a national monument, you need to actually make a point of going there. Unless you intend taking the Blue Train, Rovos Rail or the Shosholoza Meyl, which make a point of stopping here anyway (whilst the Blue Train allows its visitors off to explore, the Shosholoza Meyl stops only for 5 minutes to allow weekend visitors off).

Matjiesfontein is a gorgeous street really, rather than a town. The white-washed Victorian era houses, and seriously colonial looking hotel, known as the Lord Milner, line the road right up against the railway line. The town used to serve as something of an oasis way back in the 1880s when James Douglas Logan initially built the historical buildings intended to serve as a country health resort for the rich and famous, and the likes of Cecil John Rhodes have slept here.

Over time the buildings fell into dissaray, only to be restored in 1970. Despite this being some time ago, the place is a hidden and relatively unknown gem you might want to share. A night spent here is well worth the detour, particularly as the hotel is said to be haunted. Make sure you sample the eccentric bus tour on the old red London double decker. The trip lasts for all of ten minutes but it is side-splittingly funny and you get a good overview of the history of the place.

Follow this with a drink in the Laird's Arms Bar, a gorgeous old wooden pub with a restored fireplace. A great way to feel as though you have stepped back in time.

Additional Reading

For more info about Matjiesfontein see our articles on the SA Travel News Blog: • Die trein - toe toe toe toe toe toe - na MatjiesfonteinSpend An Hour Or Two In Matjiesfontein

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