Kaapsehoop: The best place to spend your day
Are you planning a trip to the Lowveld or perhaps even the Kruger National Park? If so, it’s the perfect opportunity to stop by one of the quaintest villages in South Africa – Kaapsehoop.
In the heart of South Africa’s Mpumalanga Province lies the Lowveld – an area renowned for its low-lying valleys, majestic waterfalls, lush forests, wildlife, and quirky towns. It also commonly serves as a gateway to South Africa’s prestigious Kruger National Park.
One place I particularly enjoy visiting in this region is the small village of Kaapsehoop. This quaint and quirky little town offers beautiful views and a rich history dating back to the Anglo Boer War and South Africa’s gold rush period. Added to that, you might even get a chance to see the town’s wild horses.
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Kaapsehoop is a peaceful village, a short drive from Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. Roughly 1468m above sea level, Kaapsehoop is an excellent example of the natural beauty found on the Highveld Escarpment. In addition to its serene beauty, a large part of the area has also been declared a National Heritage Site, giving a safe breeding ground to endangered Blue Swallows. With only a 150 residents, the village comprises of a handful of cottages, guesthouses, and eateries. All easily accessed on its gravel roads.
Kaapsehoop was initially named the Duiwel’s Kantoor (Devil’s Office) because its large sandstone boulders resembled a room filled with tables and chairs. The fact that a cloak of mist often blankets the escarpment might also have contributed to this somber name.
During the late 1800s, the discovery of gold in one of the creeks nearby quickly changed this somber connotation to one of hope. Soon after, prospective miners renamed the town to Kaapsehoop, meaning ‘Hope of the Cape.’ However, as the gold ran out, the miners’ hopes receded too. Soon, many of miners left in search of gold elsewhere in the Lowveld. Today, Kaapsehoop is recognized as a historic mining town in the Lowveld, and the original Old Mining Commissioner’s house still stands.
Apart from its rustic charm, gold rush history, and scenic plateau, there is one thing that sets Kaapsehoop apart from its neighbors in the Lowveld: its free-roaming wild horses. So much so that the town has become synonymous with them. Which is precisely why visitors from near and far have been flocking here.
Even though it is not entirely clear where the horses come from, many locals believe they descend from the British troops, stationed here during the Anglo Boer War. Regardless of their decent, there is nothing more magical than witnessing these creatures graze leisurely along the mountain and green pastures in town.
How to spend a day in Kaapsehoop
Kaapsehoop is the perfect place to enjoy a morning brunch, a lazy afternoon, or even spend a night. There’s plenty to do and see:
- Grab a bite at one of the many eateries lining the entrance or mingle with the locals at Salvador’s.
- Go treasure hunting at the gift or thrift stores scattered about town.
- Take a hike in one of the neighboring forests, where you are sure to find a waterfall or two.
- Go on a horse riding trail or take a carriage ride.
When I visit Kaapsehoop, I love popping in at these places below.
Salvador Main Street Bistro
Situated on the main road as you enter Kaapsehoop, Salvador’s has a great little menu. Enjoy brunch, a late lunch, or snuggle up next to the fire on a cold, misty day. On weekends, it usually turns into a lively pub, and you will soon find yourself mingling with the locals or enjoying a game of pool. They also make a mouth-watering prego (a Portuguese beef sandwich)!
De-liteful Glass Works
De-liteful Glass is a cute little glassworks shop in the same building block as Salvador’s. The store has an array of unique glass products made by hand. Here you will find anything from colorful glass wind chimes to lampshades. As an added touch, the store is also able to make custom-made products catering to your every need.
Koek ‘n Pan
Enjoy freshly made pancakes, a traditional South African treat at Koek ‘n Pan. The restaurant offers a wide variety of savory and sweet crepes.
I love ordering the cinnamon-sugar pancake, served with fresh cream and lemon slices. Melt-in-the-mouth goodness!
Next to the restaurant, there is a luscious green field. On busy days, the area is mostly used for parking. But, should you ever find yourself in Kaapsehoop on a less crowded day, be sure to find the wooden bench in the field – it’s a great spot to admire the views!
Gold Dust Trading
This treasure trove is home to antiques, art pieces, books and a variety of vintage goods. If you are anything like me, you will easily spend hours working through dusty book covers or scavenging for trinkets, jewelry, souvenirs and much, much more.
Silver Mist Country Inn Chapel
A charming little chapel sits opposite the Silver Mist Inn, which was previously the old Post Office. It serves as a popular wedding venue and has a large glass window overlooking a field.
Stroll past the Old Mining Commissioner’s house and then make your way to Soul Creations. This small jewelry manufacturer specializes in unique designs and alterations. They also have a unique selection of gemstones on display. Read more about the town on their website, here.
When to visit Kaapsehoop
Kaapsehoop can be visited year-round, but it’s good to know that it gets quite crowded on weekends. During the winter months, Kaapsehoop and its surrounding plateau are often covered in a cloak of mist, giving it a mystical and eerie feel. During the summer months, blue skies, luscious green fields, and fresh air are enjoyed by young and old. No matter which season you choose to drop by Kaapsehoop, it is an excellent place to take gentle strolls, relax next to a fireplace or spend time with family and friends.
Due to its high altitude, the weather is somewhat unpredictable. So, be sure to check the local weather report before you leave home and always bring something warm.
What to bring
- Most places accept Visa/ Mastercard, but always have some cash handy.
- A jacket or blazer as it can get quite chilly here.
- Comfortable walking shoes.
Getting to Kaapsehoop
Kaapsehoop is roughly 25km from Nelspruit, making it easy to reach in 30 minutes, by car. While you make your way up the winding mountain pass lined with pine trees and scattered rock formations, be sure to stop for a selfie at the De Kaap Valley, previously proclaimed the Valley of Death. The valley offers a scenic panorama of the lower-lying area and Barberton.
Have you ever been to Kaapsehoop? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below. If you love small quirky towns, be sure to check out our top 10 choices for the best small towns in South Africa. Also, don’t forget to follow us on social media and subscribe to our blog to get all the good stuff first!
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