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City Mooi Rivier

Formerly known as Lawrenceville by the Irish farmer who first landed here, Mooi Rivier is in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. The name was simply referring to the river that they found beautiful by the Voortrekkers in the area. The Zulus call the river Mpofana (which means place of the eland) because there were many eland (the largest antelope in Africa) here in the Drakensberg. There flows relatively a large amount of water through this area and therefore it is suitable for agriculture and livestock.

Northeast of the village lies a waterfall of 80 meters and a width of 50 meters in the river, worth a visit if the water is good. Some parts of the Mooi Rivier are perfect for exploring by boat or canoe while other parts are a paradise for fly fishermen. Outside the village you will find Craigieburn Dam and what a great place to fish for trout (ask for a license at a tourist information point), or to have a picnic by the water. Water sports enthusiasts can visit the Midmar Dam about 45 kilometres south-east of Mooi Rivier.

The village itself offers no other prominent sites, but much natural beauty can be found in the vicinity which is good to explore from Mooi Rivier. Mooi Rivier is also called the "Gateway to the Midlands". The Midlands consists of a hilly landscape with small lakes, rivers, waterfalls, forests and pastures where the cows graze. The area is known for its many artists and artisans and you will find workshops and studios including potters, weavers and sculptors. You can drive the Midlands Meander drive (also called Arts and Crafts Route), and this route takes you past the sights, craft shops, galleries and eateries. The Midlands region is also known as the region that bred the best horses in the country and are trained here. The best known is Summerhill. Several horse farms are open to tourists, but a tour at Summerhill takes about an hour and you should make an appointment in advance.

Mooi Rivier is a good base for visiting the Drakensberg Mountains; the beautiful Giant's Castle Game Reserve is just 40 minutes' drive away. You can choose from a wide variety of walking / hike routes through the mountains or pick out a nice spot for a picnic and watch the sun set behind the mountains. At the Main Office (headquarters) of Giants' Castle they can inform you well about the routes that are used from this point several times a day for excursions catered to the rock paintings of the Bushmen (San). These ancient inhabitants of the region have some caves called 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 monkeys, elk (eland) or bearded vultures during your visit to Giant's Castle. In winter, the vultures are fed at a fixed location and it gives you more of a chance to see these huge birds. You can contact the main office to rent lines to fly-fish in the Bushman River and in some places you may also swim in the river. There is a small shop, a restaurant and accommodations; from the main entrance it is about 7 kilometres to Giant's Castle.

The climate here is pleasant, summer is the rainy season where the days are warm and the nights cool. The average rainfall is 900 mm per year and usually it falls during a thunderstorm. The hottest months are January and February while in June and July it is the coldest. In the winter, it does get freezing at night but during the day it is dry and the sun shines.

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