InformationThe Batwa Valley region surrounding Breyten is brimming with San history that is seldom told. These stories are narrated on a private tour through the geological features and historic sites of the valley.
Breyten lies at the foot of Klipstapel, meaning 'rock pile' in Afrikaans, which at 1829 metres above sea level is the highest point on the watershed between the westward- flowing Vaal River system and the eastward-flowing Olifants and Komati River systems. In the late summer months the landscape is swathed in the pink and white of cosmos flowers.
The town's origins are quite intriguing as Bothasrus, which was the original farmstead on which the town was established, was granted to Mr Lukas Potgieter after he lost his leg during the first Anglo-Boer War. Potgieter later sold it to Nicolaas Breytenbach who, as you may have already guessed, named the village after himself and so the name stuck.
Although the farming town of Breyten was a bustling railway stop between Johannesburg and Nelspruit in the early 20th century, today the only remnants of that history is the class 19 series (number 1369) steam locomotive and carriage that is painted in the South African flag and plinthed outside the old railway station.
Breyten is also home to one of three leather tanneries left in South Africa, which sells sheepskin slippers across the county and is the town's biggest employer. If you're passing through en route to Chrissiesmeer, only 25km away, book a private tour for insight into this dwindling industry. The owner will take you around their facilities and explain the process of making leather slippers from start to finish. It's recommended that you explore the region around Breyten with a private tourist guide as it's rich with natural beauty and geological features, such as the giant Mushroom Rock in the Batwa Valley and its links to San history.
Mushroom Rock, which is found on private property and therefore cannot be explored independently, is also the site of the san genocide by the swazi people. The tour will take you back to days gone by with narratives of our earliest beginnings as you witness rock paintings and stone age rock tools in a cave within the valley.
Hint: For further reading about the bushmen of the region read "Lake Chrissies's Bushman Past" published by Professor Ton Sanders (2013) and "The Disappearing Bushmen of Lake Chrissie" published by E.F Potgieter (1955)