During the nineteenth century, towns such as Estcourt acted as stopovers for people on their way from Durban to the KwaZulu-Natal hinterland. Estcourt was initially known as Bushman’s River and later renamed after a British Member of Parliament, Thomas Estcourt, who sponsored the immigration of many of the original settlers to the area. Today, it is the starting point of the voyage into the Giant’s Castle region of the Drakensberg Mountains.
Adventure And Sport
Angling: Anglers enjoy the fantastic trout and fly fishing opportunities at Eshlazi Dam.
Angling, sailing and motor-boating: Wagendrift Dam and Nature Reserve is a popular venue for angling, sailing and motorboating.
Hiking Trails: Several hiking trails in the area lead to mountain destinations such as Giant’s Castle in the Drakensberg Range and will take you past several caves decorated by San rock art and to site museums. The Estcourt area also has several mountain bike trails and 4×4 trails.
Horse-Riding: Hillside Camp is the base for all horse trails in the area.
Ikukhanya Kwelanga Cultural Village: Ikukhanya Kwelanga Cultural Village is run by a traditional healer, also head of an organisation of traditional healers. The “village” is a homestead in one of the townships and also includes a nursery specializing in plants with medicinal qualities, used by traditional healers for many years. Tours are conducted to a local township tavern, where visitors can mingle with the local Zulu population and see the dance troupe perform.
Fauna And Flora
Giant’s Castle Game Reserve: The reserve is in the Drakensberg Mountains, west of Estcourt, and its proudest feature is the magnificent Giant’s Castle Peak. The reserve is home to twelve different species of antelope, jackal, baboon and the lammergeyer, which is the largest eagle on the continent. Visits to the reserve offer awe-inspiring views of the Drakensberg Range.
New Formosa Nature Reserve: The New Formosa Nature Reserve houses a large number of buck, game and bird species.
History And Architecture
Augustinian Chapel: The Roman Catholic Augustinian Chapel was built in 1929.
Bloukrans Memorial: Bloukrans Memorial marks the site where Voortrekker families were killed by the Zulus after the murder of their leader, Piet Retief, in February 1838.
Brynbella Hill-Willow Grange: This battlefield represented the southernmost skirmish of the Anglo-Boer War in the province. The stone wall is still visible at the site situated ten km from Estcourt.
First Government School: Built in 1886, the first government school is now the local high school, Estcourt Secondary School.
Fort Durnford Museum: Fort Durnford was built in 1847 near the Bushman’s River. The fort became the nucleus of the future town of Estcourt and is now a museum.
Old Civic Building: The inauguration of the Old Civic Building in 1901 had to be postponed for a week because of the death of Queen Victoria. It is now a national monument.
Old Magistrate’s Residency: The Old Magistrate’s Residency, built in 1884/85, used to be the home of the town’s first magistrate, John MacFarlane.
Old Natal Government Railway Bridge: The Railway Bridge was built in 1885 and is still in use today.
Powder Magazine: The Powder Magazine was built in 1859, the same year that the town became the new seat of the magistracy. At the time, magistrates had sole control over the trafficking in gunpowder.
Winston Churchill Capture Site: Winston Churchill was captured by the Boers at Chievely in 1899. A memorial marks the location of the action during which he was captured.
Glamosa Glass: Tours of the Glamosa facilities include demonstrations of how glass is blown and crafted by hand.