Barkly East, the “Switzerland of South Africa”, lies on the edge of the Kraai River Gorge in the Drakensberg. This town, one of the coldest and highest in South Africa, is surrounded by the Witteberge (White Mountains) where some of the peaks rise to as high as 3 000 m. The town was established on the farm Rocky Park in 1874 and named after the then Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Henry Barkly. A unique railway line, with such steep gradients that trains are forced to make eight reverses, links the town with Lady Grey.
Adventure And Sport
Balloch Garden Cottage: Balloch offers guided rock art and birding tours.
Burnbrae Mountain Hideaway: Burnbrae offers a five-hour hiking trail to six rock shelters, five of which have San rock paintings.
4×4, hunting, hiking: Opportunities for 4×4 trips, hunting, hiking, mountain-biking, camping and playing golf, abound in the area.
Hiking: A number of trails, mostly on private property, traversing the valleys and slopes of the southern Drakensberg Mountains, have been established in the area.
Snow-skiing: During winter, eager ski enthusiasts rush to the slopes of nearby Ben MacDhui Peak that soars to a height of 3 001 metres above sea level.
Trout-fishing: The cool, clear waters of Langkloofspruit offer superb conditions for trout-fishing and pheasant-hunting along the banks. The annual Trout Festival, held in March, attracts fishermen from all over the country.
Archaeology And Palaeontology
San rock art: The San used many of the caves in the district, such as the renowned Septon Cave, as their art galleries.
San rock art at Dinorbin: The farm Dinorbin, situated just above Barkly Pass, in the Cape Drakensberg Mountain Range, is the site of the longest San painting yet discovered, a panel extending horizontally for about 30 m, covered in paintings of antelope and human figures.
History And Architecture
Nkululeko Township Tours: Several tour operators take visitors on guided tours of the Nkululeko Township, where traditional dancers entertain them and Xhosa ladies in traditional dress serve a traditional lunch. A visit to a local shebeen is included in the tour. Visitors are also introduced to the local Sinenjongo Cultural Crafts Project, a community-based project aimed at providing skills-training for rural, unemployed women. Lovely, local crafts and beadwork are on sale.
History And Architecture
Barkly East Museum: The displays in the museum focus on the town’s history and include such topics as the effects of the railway and of the two World Wars on the town and its people.
Steam Locomotive: The town square has become the final resting place for one of the last Class 19D steam locomotive giants that once traversed the Kraai River Gorge