The town of Matatiele was founded on the edges of a marsh in the southern reaches of the Drakensberg Mountain Range. The marsh was given the Sotho name of “Madi-I-Yila”, meaning “The Ducks have Flown”, after the marsh had been drained. Until 1874 the area was the hideout of a collection of lawless smugglers, cattle and horse rustlers and other renegades. However, in that year the Cape government annexed the area and started to clean it up. Law and order were only really established in 1880 when the town was garrisoned by a detachment of the Cape Mounted Rifles. Today’s Matatiele is a pretty little town with lovely summer gardens and superb views of the mountains. It is the centre for a prosperous farming district in which horses are bred and where polo is the local sport.

Adventure And Sport

Mehloding Horse and Hiking Trail: This 4-day trail traverses the foothills of the southern Drakensberg Mountains at the junction of the Eastern Cape (former Transkei area), KwaZulu-Natal and Southern Lesotho. Attractions include the fresh mountain air, views of unexplored peaks and crystal-clear streams, ancient San rock art sites, medicinal plants, indigenous trees, birds and wildlife, as well as local Xhosa and Sotho hospitality.

Fauna And Flora

Bauer Nature Reserve: This pristine reserve plays host to various species of buck as well as the endangered oribi antelope.

Mountain Lake Nature Reserve: This favourite spot for trout-anglers and nature lovers is set high in the mountains above the town.

History And Architecture

Catholic Church: The stone Catholic Church, set in a lovely garden, has an especially attractive cool, white interior.

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