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City Estcourt

The area around Estcourt (African: Escort) in the province of KwaZulu-Natal has a turbulent history and it is the southernmost point of the 'Battlefield Route, which extends further north to Ladysmith and Dundee. This route takes you past several places where there was fighting between the British, the Boers (Voortrekkers) and the Zulus. Visit Fort Dunford in Estcourt which was built in 1875 and where there is a museum today.

Estcourt is a good base for visiting the Drakensberg. You can choose from a wide variety of hiking / trekking and climbing routes or pick a nice spot for a picnic and watch the sun set behind the mountains. Especially Giant's Castle Game Reserve which is named so because of the shape of the crags and belongs to the central part of the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park which is worth a visit. Giant's Castle is about 60 kilometers drive from Estcourt. At the Main Office (headquarters), they may be well informed about the routes from this point and excursions catered to the rock paintings of the Bushmen (San) take place several times a day. These ancient inhabitants of the region have some caves that feature what they call Rock Art which gives us a good insight into the wildlife that lived at that time in the Drakensberg. It's a half hour walk from the Main Office to where the Rock Art is located; this is one of the largest and best preserved sites with rock art in South Africa. It is possible that you will see Giant's Castle monkeys, eland (elk) or bearded vulture during your visit here. In winter, the vultures are fed at a fixed location and give you more of a chance to see these huge birds. You can contact the main office to rent rods/lines to fish fly-fish in the Bushman River and in some places you may also swim in this river. There is a small shop, a restaurant and accommodations; from the main entrance it is about 7 kilometers to the entrance of Giant's Castle.

The nearby game reserve Weenen Game Reserve is worth a visit for spotting rhinos, giraffes, eland, zebra, kudu, ostriches, ibex (steenbok) , hyena etc. Here you will find more than 250 species of birds and the scenery is beautiful and hilly. You can explore the reserve both in your car and on foot; bush walks with a guide are possible. Along one of the waterholes is a refuge where you can see the animals that come to drink. There are three picnic areas in the reserve with BBQ facilities. To spend the night there is a campground with 12 sites and there is a cottage. This small sanctuary which has a rich flora and fauna is a nice trip for a day or half a day if you stay in this area. Remember that in the winter months (June-July) it can freeze at night in the mountains, daytime is almost always dry and the sun has a comfortable temperature. The hottest months are January and February, and you may then avoid hefty thunderstorms.

South of Estcourt you will find the Village of Mooi River which forms the beginning of the Midlands Meander, also known as the Arts and Crafts Route which takes you through a variety of craft shops and studios.

Your holiday begins at South Africa Specialist!