The small town of Kaapschehoop lies high in the mountains above the De Kaap Valley and is surrounded by the Berlin State Forest. Prospectors dubbed the area “Die Kaap” because the valley was often covered in mist that caused the plateau to stand out like a “cape” (“kaap” in Afrikaans) in a sea of clouds. The quaint little town of Kaapschehoop has retained much of its “gold rush” mining town atmosphere as well as the name, Kaapschehoop – “Hope of the Cape”, so named by hopeful prospectors. Approximately 1 000m below, in the De Kaap Valley, the Little Crocodile River has its headwaters.
The Kaap River, a tributary of the Crocodile River, is also situated here and is a major source of irrigation. At the mouth of the Kaap River, where it flows into the Crocodile River, at the bottom of the Crocodile Gorge, lies the tiny village of Kaapmuiden (“Mouth of the Kaap”), one of the stations on the old “Oosterlijn” Railway line from Pretoria to Mozambique. The tiny hamlet of Karino lies above the gorge. The spectacular road to Karino passes between lichen-covered “kloofs” and heavily-forested mountain slopes.
Adventure And Sport
Hiking: The Kaapschehoop network of hiking trails is situated in the historic De Kaap Goldfields and passes through the Berlin Forest. Some of the trails will take hikers from the Blue Swallow Plain at Kaapschehoop all the way to the museum town of Pilgrim’s Rest. Special interest trails focus on the ecology of the endangered blue swallow and the early gold-mining history of the area and others pass through the beautiful mountainous area with its many interesting rock formations and other natural features and prodigious numbers of different species of birds and game. There is also a less strenuous 3-km walking route available for those who would like to see the area without having to expend too much energy.
Kaapschehoop Horse Trails: The trails pass through the scenic mountain terrain, lush forests and open grassland and are led by qualified guides.
Fauna And Flora
Blue Swallow: The threatened blue swallow has found safety in the forestry conservation areas where scientific breeding programmes protect the birds’ breeding sites and encourage them to breed.
Wild Horses: Kaapschehoop is famous for its herd of wild horses that have roamed the hills around the settlement for many years. The herd reputedly bred in the wild after the release of ponies used in the gold-mining pits, more than 100 years ago. Take one of the hiking trails that pass through the area and you may just be lucky enough to spot the herd.
Sandstone Formations: The bizarrely-shaped cluster of giant rocks and sandstone formations that stand on the summit of the mountain just outside the town resembles a group of frozen figures conducting a meeting. The formations was dubbed “Duiwelskantoor” (Devil’s Office).