Kaapsehoop – The Magic in the Mist

17 November 2015 by Katy Johnson

Just 35km out of Nelspruit there is a fairy tale town - a place with majestic views, quaint small town charm and wild horses.  

Kaapsehoop is a mesmerising town, perched high on top of the Drakensberg escarpment. Its 1712m elevation above sea level makes it the ideal summer getaway to escape the oppressive Lowveld heat. It also makes it the perfect location for a spot of star gazing, with its unobstructed views and the complete absence of light pollution.

The 30 minute drive from Nelspruit to Kaapsehoop is almost a spectacular as the destination. The beautiful, rugged mountain pass that takes you up the escarpment has almost magical qualities, especially when it is enveloped in the blankets of mist synonymous with Kaapsehoop.

One of the wonders of Kaapsehoop is the wild horses, who often greet you long before you even get a glimpse of the town. There are many stories as to their origin, the most likely is that they are decedents of those left by the British Troops. Approximately 200 are believed to roam the plateau and are equally at home in the town. One of the best adventures to be had is the Kaapsehoop riding trail, where experienced and novice riders alike can take in the scenery and interact with the wildlife on horseback.

Another one of Mpumalanga’s gold rush towns, Kaapsehoop came into existence in 1873 and got it name ‘Hope of the Cape’ from optimistic prospectors. While the gold found here didn’t quite live up to the expectations of the miners who named the town, the vista’s, wildlife, and beautiful atmosphere more than exceeded it.

The Kaapsehoop Escapement Walk is one of the best hikes in Mpumalanga. The natural maze of unique rock formation keep hikers, young and old engaged, as they navigate their way through the fascinating jungle of rocks. The view at the end of the escarpment is breath-taking, spectacular, awe-inspiring, and something that needs to be seen to be believed. As the ground simply falls away and you look over the magnificent Barberton Valley thousands of metres below. Any time of day the view is magnificent, but witnessed at dawn when the sun rises over the Swazi Mountains there are very few sights on this planet to rival it.

Awash with a multitude of artisan gift shops, Kaapsehoop has been drawing artists to the town for decades. So whether it is beautiful lead glass lampshades, custom made jewellery, fine art paintings or shabby chic home décor you are almost guaranteed to find it here. Mixed in with the towns many guest houses and art galleries are some great restaurants where you can enjoy the great views with lovely home cooked food.

For anyone still looking for more, Kaapsehoop has two more surprises in store. The first, the blue swallow might be diminutive in stature but they have bird enthusiasts buzzing, and the third biggest breeding colony in South Africa can be found just outside the town in a 460 hectare expanse of pristine grassland. Then for the brave there is the Kaapsehoop Ghost Tour. It’s hard to believe that such as small town can have such an intriguing history. Stemming from the area’s shady gold mining past, Kaapsehoop’s history is shrouded in murder, mystery and of course the missing Kruger Millions! So be prepared for the ghosts of old women, the cries of children and the occasional smash of crockery, as you explore the Town’s darker past.

Follow the coordinates: -25.591073, 30.765885 to explore this fascinating town. Or contact: info@horsebacktrails.co.za | +27 (0)82 774 5826 to book the horse riding adventure.