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Gold was discovered in the Spekboom River in 1871 and 2 years later the gold rush was on. Fortune hunters from around the world made their way to the little town of Pilgrim’s Rest hoping to strike it rich. At one stage over 1 500 miners were working up to 4 000 claims in the upper, middle and lower camps.
Today you can choose from 5 different Prospector's Trail options that relive the history of those heady times, as well as introducing you to some of the natural attractions of this lovely scenic area.
Hike the 2-night Peach Tree Creek Trail, which takes you to the diggings where you'll experience the lifestyle of those early diggers. You’ll climb the coco pan tracks that served one of the mines, cross the Blyde River and follow a historic railway line, walking through grassland and indigenous forest, before climbing down into Pilgrim’s Rest itself.
In this historic little town – a living museum – you’ll visit the old hospital and the 'Robber’s Grave' at the evocative cemetery. The story goes that the robber, who was convicted of raiding the miners’ tents, was shot and killed on Cemetery Hill. His grave faces a different direction from all the others, forever branding him a thief.
If you have more time and are very fit, then hike the 5-night Prospector’s Trail, rated as 'very difficult'. Although this hike requires one to be in tip-top shape, you’ll forget your aching feet when you view the diverse scenery, listen to the birdsong, cool off in the mountain streams, and maybe even get a glimpse of the wild horses – descendants from the pioneer past.
Travel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Pilgrim’s Rest Information Centre
Tel: (+27) (0)13 768 1060
How to get here
Take the N4 to Mpumalanga and turn off at the R539. Drive through Sabie and take the R532 to Pilgrim's Rest. Detailed directions from there are provided when you book a trail.
Best time to visit
Any time is good, although it can get very hot and humid in summer.
Things to do
Spend some time in Pilgrim’s Rest – a designated provincial heritage site – and visit the various museums in the small town. The Central Garage now serves as a transportation museum with antique cars and horse-drawn wagons. The well-preserved Victorian Museum House gives a glimpse into life in a bygone era. Our Golden Heritage Museum tells the story of gold in the area.
What to pack
Comfortable walking shoes or boots, sunscreen, insect repellent, hat, rucksack, food and water.
Where to stay
There are 4 huts on the trails - Pilgrim's Rest, Morgenzon, Black Hill and Excelsior. Each hut has bunk beds, showers, toilets, firewood and a cooking area. Only the Pilgrim's Rest hut has electricity and hot water.
- Pilgrim's Rest Tourism
- Mpumalanga Tourism Authority
- Hiking Organisation of Southern Africa
- Footprint Hiking Club