A stroll through the Eastern Cape village of Burgersdorp will surprise and delight you with its array of coffee shops, museums and memorials to both Boer and Brit alike. And once you hit the hiking trails of the area, you will find superb San (Bushman) rock art from long ago.

Did you know?

Burgersdorp residents and local farmers regard their well-equipped schools as the town’s most valuable assets.

Burgersdorp, the little village tucked into a hillside in the northern reaches of the Eastern Cape, is the perfect getaway for hikers, fishermen, museum nuts and ghost hunters.

The San (also sometimes known as 'Bushmen') lived here first, and left artistic evidence of their lives and visions in many caves throughout the area. European explorers like Robert Gordon came nosing around here in the late 1700s and by 1835 more than 350 farming families of settlers were well ensconced in the foothills of the Stormberg range.

Burgersdorp by night cannot be compared to Kowloon, Times Square or Piccadilly Circus. It does, however, have the quiet charm of open skies, friendly publicans and the distant howl of a hunting jackal to recommend it. A good night’s rest is practically guaranteed.

On a hill overlooking Burgersdorp is a blockhouse from the South African War (previously known as the Anglo-Boer War). The major encounter that took place in these parts was the Battle of Stomberg, in which 400 Boer soldiers fought a much stronger British contingent and won, taking possession of Burgersdorp.

Their joy was short-lived, however. Four months later, Burgersdorp was re-taken by the British.

As a result, a short town walk will reveal an interesting array of monuments.

A memorial to the people of Burgersdorp who died in the South African War was unveiled by legendary Boer general Koos de la Rey in 1908.

There is also a language monument dedicated to ‘the triumph of the Dutch language’ and an extraordinary ‘Jubilee Fountain’, erected in 1897, to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria – supposedly the arch-enemy of the local Boers. The inscription at the top of the cupola reads: ‘Keep the pavement dry’.

Activities outside the town include fishing and hiking. And if you’re into ghosts, then you should visit the De Bruin House (part of the museum complex), take a photograph and re-play it on your digital screen. You may just jump out of your skin…

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

The Nook B&B
Host: Anita Joubert
Tel: +27 (0)51 653-1318
Cell: +27 (0)82 620-4758

How to get here

Burgersdorp lies about 60km south-west of Aliwal North on the R58, in the northern reaches of the Eastern Cape province. It is also about 70km from the massive Gariep Dam.

Best time to visit

If you like your winters snowy and cold, Burgersdorp was made for you. At the change of seasons, the area takes on a special charm as well.

Around the area

You're not far from Aliwal North, Gariep, Molteno, Dordrecht and Smithfield - all these places are great day-drive destinations, with their own sets of attractions.

Tours to do

The Gariep Route: Smithfield, Bethulie, Gariep, Colesberg and Oviston. Stop off for lunch at De Stijl Hotel overlooking the Gariep Dam.

Get around

The area skirting the Gariep Route is tailor-made for slow meandering on a self-drive basis.

What will it cost

Accommodation in Burgersdorp is very reasonable, and a self-catering option should cost no more than R200 per person.

Length of stay

Because of all the associated outdoor activities, try to spend 3 days to explore the town and the area in general.

What to pack

This is hiking country; also, pack birding books, a good book on the South African War, always make sure you carry water when you walk and look out for the harsh sun.

Where to stay

A choice of town B&Bs, self-catering options and farm stays.

What to eat

If you're in a feasting mood, then look no further than a brace of lamb chops, barbecued to your taste.

What's happening

Check the Burgersdorp Info website for fairs and festivals.

Best buys

Cheeses at the nearby Stormberg Cheese Factory and paintings from artist Anita Joubert.

Related articles