The entire town of Pilgrim’s Rest was declared a National Monument in 1986 as a living memory of the early gold rush days in South Africa during the late 1800s / early 1900s.
Since then a dedicated team of historians, architects, curators and special interest groups closely monitor all developments and refurbishments in the village to maintain its historic appearance.
There is no ATM in Pilgrim’s at the moment.
While most businesses have card facilities, not all do.
Cash & Gold Nuggets Welcome
After exploring the cave it was soon realised that this dark underworld carried with it the most beautiful gems of nature.
After the completion of the Abel Erasmus Pass and the Strijdom Tunnel in 1959 the cave was opened as a tourist attraction. Later the cave was declared a National Monument..
The name Echo was given to the cave, as a certain stalactite formation produces a distinctive echoing sound when tapped on. This echo can still be heard on the outside of the cave today.
The cave consists of impressive stalactites and stalagmite formations which can be viewed comfortably from walkways with electric lights, railings and staircases that have been installed for your safety and convenience. The spectacular limestone and dripstone structures inside these natural caverns make for interesting imaginary figures which can be seen in chambers throughout the cave as it winds through the mountain.
Most recent discoveries include the Madonna and Crystal Palace chambers. The most strenuous walk is to the Crystal Palace which is also one of the most beautiful halls in the cave, but is definitely worth the extra effort.
Guided Tours are avaialble every day of the year from 08h30 till 16h00, and will keep you entertained for approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Tours are suitable for young and old.
45 – 60 Minute guided tour of the caves
Hike in the surrounding mountains
Visit our new Curios Shop (Opening December 2008)
Various animals on the premises for children to view. Some of these include Emu’s, Llama, Ducks and the odd Baboon and Monkey that visits.
Museum of Man for interesting archeological finds.
The Three Rondawels for stunning views over Blyde River Canyon.
Bourke’s Luck Potholes for spectacular rock formations.
Visit the Mac Mac Falls – 60m high drop into a natural pool.
God’s Window with views over the Lowveld.
The museum displays life size models of pre-historic animals, ranging from amphibious reptiles, anicient reptiles, dinosaurs, pre-historic mammals, pre-historic man and more. The models were artistically and realistically sculpted by Jan van Zijl (also responsible for the black wildebeest on the old South African 2c coin).
Also on display are live Nile Crocodiles, perfectly adapted to survival and not much changed from their ancient relatives.
The park is set in a lush sub-tropical forest garden, where monkeys and red-breasted cuckoos abound. New is a magnificent ‘viewing deck’ from where the Rainforest Valley (National Heritage Site # 167) can be observed – with occasional glimpses of wild chacma baboons.
The park was the initiative of Mr. Theo Owen (1927 – 2013). The project was launched in 1972, and the park was officially opened in 1977. Many models were sculpeted near Johannesburg, and some were displayed at the Rand Easter Show in April 1976. The park was named after Mr. P.R. Owen (1900 – 1972) who was responsible for constructing the road up to the Sudwala Caves in the late 1950’s.
Guests are taken to interesting places in the surrounding wilderness areas. The walk itself is relaxed and the guests are led by an experienced and armed game ranger who share their intimate knowledge of the bushveld and wildlife.
Experience Africa at its finest throughout the day scanning endless bushveld, tropical forests, shimmering plains and abundant flora. Over 147 animal species and 500 colourful birds are there for your viewing. Keep a close eye out for the thrilling sights of the Big 5 – lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. Capture magical photographic moments in open game vehicles with qualified and knowledgeable Game Rangers. Breakfast and Lunch are provided in the Park.
Photographers and birders will enjoy the convenience of the upper deck equipped with chairs and tables. The cruises last approximately 3 hours and include tea and coffee or a sundowner. The afternoon river safari can be paired with a braai on the river bank upon return.
After this relaxing trip, it’s time to get the adrenaline pumping. Join us for a tubing trip, Abseiling or some water fun. If you are an adrenaline junkie then being bored here will be your own fault. Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of moments that take away your breath. Here we have many of those moments!
Permanent canvas tent bedrooms on permanent platforms. Some have communal kitchen and communal ablution facilities, while others are fully equipped and have more luxurious trimmings.
The mountains around Barberton are amongst the oldest in the world dating back 3.5 Billion years, and these mountains include some of the oldest exposed rocks on the planet. These volcanic rocks, which scientists call the Barberton Greenstone Belt, have given up direct evidence of conditions of life on the surface of the very early earth.
The first form of life on earth, a bacterial micro fossil Archaeospheroides barbertonis was discovered here and has been identified as being 3.2 billion years old.
In 1881 gold in the Barberton area was discovered by Tom McLachlan who found alluvial gold at Jamestown. However due to the location (the hot lowveld region was rife with malaria) no-one wanted to go there until Auguste Roberts (French Bob) discovered gold in Concession Creek in 20 June 1883. This discovery resulted in a gold rush to the area.
On 21 June 1884, Graham Barber wrote a letter to the State Secretary to inform him that he and his two cousins Fred and Harry discovered payable gold on state land where the Umvoti Creek entered the De Kaap valley. The State Secretary then asked the Magistrate in Lydenburg to investigate the matter and for David Wilson, the Gold Commissioner, to submit a report. Wilson investigated on 24 July 1884 and declared the township of Barberton.
At first it was just a simple mining camp but grew when Edwin Bray, a prospector discovered gold in the hills above Barberton in 1885 and with 14 partners started the Sheba Reef Gold Mining Company.
Large amounts of money flowed into Barberton and the first Stock Exchange to operate in the then Transvaal opened its doors. More buildings were erected, billiard saloons and music halls established. The Criterion and Royal Standard hotels were opened.
Barberton flourished for only a brief period and soon the inhabitants began to move away to the newly discovered gold fields on the Reef.
Among the owners of mines in the Barberton area are Pan African Resources.
The British built a concentration camp here during the Boer War to house Boer women and children.
Sheba mine is today one of the oldest and richest working gold mines in the world, having been in production for more than a century. It is estimated that production will continue for several decades to come.
Barberton was home to Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, author of Jock of the Bushveld.
A flower, the Barberton Daisy (Gerbera jamesoni) was discovered here in 1889 by Robert Jameson.
Barberton (or, at least, a depiction of Barberton) is heavily featured in Bryce Courtenay’s novel The Power of One, as the main character’s hometown.
A character in the Sherlock Holmes adventure ““The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax” made his fortune in Barberton.
Swaziland, an independent country within South Africa is the only remaining true monarchy of the African Continent. Enjoy a guided tour to a fascinating village where Swazi tribesmen and women perform their traditional dancing, singing and provide insight into the Swazi culture. Lunch is included in the village’s outdoor restaurant at a water hole. The Swazi tour is both informative and entertaining and a very popular venue with our guests.
Kaapsehoop is set out between large natural clearings in the rock fields near the top of the escarpment overlooking the lush De Kaap Valley situated some 800 metres below, with distant views towards and Nelspruit.
Kaapsehoop originally gained fame as a gold mining town once known as the Duiwels Kantoor – the Devil’s Office – towards the end of the 19th century, when gold was discovered in 1882 in a small creek running through the town. This led to portion of the original township layout being canceled and opened up for gold diggings. However, the earlier better paying discoveries of gold at both Pilgrim’s Rest in 1873 and Barberton in 1881, followed by the discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand in 1886 (later to become the town of Johannesburg), coupled with the meager returns obtained at Kaapsche Hoop led to the town going into decline.
The town has been “re-discovered” in recent time and has now become a popular weekend retreat with its period housing including accommodation establishments. New housing (some unfortunately not period) has also been established on some of the remaining vacant stands (erven). The town is also within commuting distance of the centre of Nelspruit situated some 30 odd kilometres away.
The rock field formations near the town are made up of quartzites of the Black Reef Formation of the Transvaal Supergroup.
Set on a 1000 hectare game reserve, the Institute Chimpanzee Eden is a home to chimpanzees that have been misplaced from their natural habitat. The world renowned Jane Goodall Institute has made this tranquil venue their South African sanctuary and has committed itself to the rescue and care take of chimpanzees in need of refuge. You may see it on DSTV Animal Planet. Enjoy a lunch at the Junglicious Restaurant.
The Bantam B22J is a well proven aircraft design that’s in use with the police and parks board for crime prevention and anti-poaching operations. Its performance is truly sensational. With two adults onboard it will get airborne in 100 metres! In the unlikely event of an engine failure it can glide in and land at only 40 km/h. That’s slower than a bicycle! However, safety is our main concern we therefore only flies before 10 in the morning and after 4 in the afternoon. That’s when the air is at its most stable and the light is best for photos. My advice always will be to book the earliest or latest possible flight. There is nothing to beat an African sunrise or sunset high above the ground! Just remember to bring warm clothing, it can get chilly especially in winter.
Shopping Centres in Kruger Area.
Blue Haze Mall
Shopping Mall in Hazyview(approximately 81 km from Marloth Park Conservancy)
The modern Blue Haze Mall is the biggest shopping centre in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, offering 186 shops. Key tenants include SuperSpar, Standard Bank, FNB, Pep Stores, Ackermans, Jet, Ellerines, Boxer, Pick n Pay, Edgars, Woolworths, Mr. Price, Foschini, Clicks, ABSA, Nedbank, Truworthsa and KFC.
Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre
Shopping Mall in White River(approximately 84 km from Marloth Park Conservancy)
Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre is perfect for the whole family to enjoy a day out. The variety of shops range from galleries housing African art to boutique clothing stores. Entertainment is on offer at The Barnyard Theatre, cinema and live music at Magnolia Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 09:00 – 16:30 Sunday 09:00 – 16:00
As a music venue, Blue Moon is not genre specific. Local and international highlights include Seether, Dana Winner, Freshly Ground, Prime Circle, The Parlotones, Malaika, Mafikizolo and Steve Hofmeyr. As a functions venue, Blue Moon is unique and versatile, suitable for hosting corporate end-of-year functions, launches, award dinners, weddings and birthday parties.
Blue Moon’s multiple stages, decks, bars, kitchen, amphitheatre, chalets, bunkhouse, trees and creative lighting can be adapted to suit just about every need. The small team of three owner-operators is always keen to accommodate exciting and challenging ideas.
The second pool is at Bunda restaurant where you can relax in the shade or keep an eye on the kids while enjoying a drink at the ladies Bar.
There is a golf range in Komatipoort, about 10 minutes away from Marloth Park and another one next to the Malelane gate, called Leopards Creek, this is about 15 minutes away.
Lionspruit is our own private game reserve, accessible only for Marloth Park residents. There are lion, rhino, buffalo, giraffe and the usual game and birds.
At the municipal swimming pool are tennis courts and braai facilities.
The normal pubs and restaurants as well as curio shop, mini supermarkets, petrol station, hardware store, bottle store etc.
7. You can go for walks next to the river in Marloth Park where you look over the river to Kruger Park.
The Komati River has its catchment area in the Swaziland Mountains and flows down to the Crocodile River, at the southernmost border of the Kruger National Park. In this tranquil setting, one can experience the might of one of Africa’s finest fresh water game fish. Our experienced guide will take you to some of the best sites in this river, renowned for its Tiger Fishing, where you may also observe Hippos and Crocodiles in their natural habitats.
If you are looking for things to do around Marloth Park and the Southern Kruger National Park then Kruger Quads is where you should head to.
Quad bike rentals
Quid bike trails
Advanced Quad bike experience
Family Quad bike adventure
Nature trails for all
The caves were used for shelter in prehistoric times, probably due in part to a constant supply of fresh air from an unknown source in the caves.
In the nineteenth century the Sudwala Caves were used by Somquba, the brother of the Swazi heir apparent, as a fortress. In a power struggle for the Swazi throne, many bloody battles were fought at the cave entrance. The story begins as follows: When King Sobhuza I of Swaziland died in 1836, his heir was Mswati II, who was still a minor and too young to ascend the vacant throne. A cousin, Paramount Chief Usutfu, was installed as regent, which proved to be a flawed choice. Usutfu was too weak to prevent Mswati’s brother Somquba from making an effective bid for the throne by calling an Incwala, or Festival of the First Fruit. The significance of this is that it is high treason, not to mention sacrilege, for any other person other than the Swazi king to hold an Incwala. After a skirmish with Mswati’s army near the Mgwenyana River, 9 km west of Barberton, Somquba and his followers fled the area, with some 500 head of Mswati’s cattle. They crossed the Crocodile River and settled near the Mankelexele Mountains, between Elandshoek and Schagen, about 10 km from what are now the Sudwala Caves. Their settlement was known as M’selezie.
Somquba sought and received protection from the newly established Boer settlement of Lydenburg. He made a formal alliance with the (1856–57) Lydenburg Republic.
There was continuous conflict between Mswati’s and Somquba’s followers in the form of raids and cattle theft. The Boers continued to side with Somquba, in return for labour to dig the first water canal at Lydenburg. Another benefit for the Boers was that Somquba acted as a buffer for them, against Mswati.
During the early 1860s Somquba came to know of the Caves, and subsequently, in times of conflict, he and his followers would take refuge there, with their cattle. They stock-piled food and there was plenty of water, so it made a strong refuge. Somquba maintained observation posts, and always kept the cave entrance clear, so that he could retreat there in a hurry. At that time stage the cave mouth was much smaller, and could barely accommodate the long horns of his small herd of prized Nguni cattle, as they were led in by hand, in single file. The principal guardian of the Caves’ entrance was Sudwala, Somquba’s chief inDuna (councillor/captain), whose name is thus commemorated to this day, and whose spirit is legendarily said to linger in the Caves. Today nobody knows how many times Somquba took refuge inside the Caves, but many bloody battles were fought at the site. At one time, the ever-persistent regiments of Mswati built a massive bonfire at the entrance, while Somquba and his followers were inside, in an attempt to suffocate them, but the natural airflow in the Caves foiled this attack. Help was sent for and received from a Lydenburg Boer commando, led by one Abel Erasmus. The commando drove off Mswati’s regiments, and freed Somquba. Traces of the fire are still visible to this day. Somquba and his followers used the caves as refuge, until Somquba was killed in an unexpected attack. Survivors stayed on under the leadership of Sudwala, and that is how the caves got their name.
During the Second Boer War, in 1900, the caves were used by the Boers to store ammunition for their 94-pounder Long Tom guns. It was thought that the caves may have been used by President Paul Kruger to store the legendary “Kruger Millions”, gold bullion which reputedly disappeared somewhere between Waterval Onder and Nelspruit during Paul Kruger’s flight from Pretoria to Lourenço Marques (now Maputo).
In 1914 a company was formed to excavate huge amounts of bat guano; this was sold as fertilizer to farmers.
The Sudwalaskraal farm that is home to the caves was purchased in 1965 by Philippus Rudolf Owen, and he opened the caves as a tourist attraction.
The major chamber in the Sudwala Caves is the P. R. Owen Hall; it is 70 metres in diameter and 37 metres high, with a constant temperature of 17°C. This chamber was used as a concert hall on a number of occasions, including July 1970, when the Russian singer Ivan Rebroff gave a concert. Concerts were stopped due to vandalism in the caves in 2002, but were started again in 2006. Chris Chameleon performed in the caves with the Drakensburg Boys Choir as part of the InniBos Arts Festival in 2012. This is the song Pie Jesu performed live.
There are a number of calcium structures in the cave, known by names such as the “Lowveld Rocket”, “Samson’s Pillar”, and the “Screaming Monster”; some have been dated to 200 million years old. There are also microbial fossils of a cyanobacterium known as collenia in the rock; these formed 2000 million years ago.
The Sudwala Caves are a popular tourist attraction in Mpumalanga, and are next to the P R Owen Dinosaur Park. One-hour tours of the cave are run during the day, and a monthly five-hour-long “Crystal Tour” takes adventurous visitors 2000 metres through the cave, with the tour culminating at a crystal chamber that bears aragonite crystals and the famous Sudwala Star. The Cave Diaries is a documentary series filmed on the Crystal Tour.
When in bloom the clivias at the Garden’s main entrance are a beautiful and welcoming sight.
Walking through the enchanting African Rain Forest enables one to cross the Crocodile River across the famous suspended bridge, where the cascading waterfall can also be viewed.
The South African Forest contains fascinating vegetation from the Coastal Belt as well as the Limpopo Province.
The Garden plays a critical role in conservation of rare and endangered species and played a pivotal role in establishing the cycad gene bank.
The Garden also boasts one of the largest collections of South African fig trees. The mystical baobab tree is famous for its unique shape and medicinal properties.
Various plant species have been introduced into the Garden. These include South African coastal species and a unique collection of plants which represent the rapidly disappearing tropical forests of central and west Africa.
Since its rebirth in 1987, Ngwenya Glass has been more than an inspiring success story. It is an environmentalist’s dream. The products, which include a range of tableware, drinking glasses, vases, jugs and ornamental African animals, are all handmade from recycled glass. Most of this is from soft drink bottles, gathered from all over Swaziland . Not only are the people of Swaziland encouraged to collect the bottles, but Ngwenya Glass works with the local schools to instil in the children a sense of environmental awareness. In exchange for building materials and the sponsorship of the soccer team, the students must participate in roadside clean-up campaigns.
Ngwenya Glass products are found in homes worldwide, whilst custom-made light fittings and tableware are commissioned by the most prestigious hotels in Southern Africa .
The steady growth of Ngwenya Glass led to its expansion to South Africa where it opened a sister factory, called “Shades of Ngwenya” (situated appropriately near the Crocodile river outside Johannesburg ). This branch has also introduced a line of corporate gifts. In 1996 it opened the first Ngwenya Glass Boutique in the hub of the exclusive”V&A Waterfront” in Cape Town . Both Ngwenya Glass and Shades of Ngwenya has an extensive showroom as well as a charming coffee shop, and is set in indigenous gardens shared with other interesting craftspeople.
Mozambique is one of the finest diving destinations in the world, with remarkably unspoilt coral reefs and an abundant variety of marine life that all levels of divers can enjoy all year round. Sea temperatures vary between 30°C in summer to 21°C in winter and the structure of the reefs offer pinnacles, overhangs, coral arches and much more.
Reef depths vary from 10m to 40m and offer good visibility and fantastic photo opportunities. Not only of the incredible range of coral but of over 6,000 species of fish. The reefs attract a variety of game fish while the coral is home to myriads of brightly coloured smaller fish including schooling banner fish, Moorish idols, butterfly fish, blue striped snappers, barred sweetlips, goldies, and trigger fish.
Mozambique diving is an excellent all year-round activity and a range of exciting and varied diving itineraries can be organized. Barracuda, manta rays, moray eels, sharks, huge schools of kingfish, giant lobsters, and numerous species of reef fish are commonly seen. The whale shark, the largest fish in the world which can reach lengths of up to 14m and weigh up to 15 tons, can be spotted between December and April.
Above the waves, dolphins are frequently encountered as are leatherback, loggerhead and green turtle. Humpback whales can be sighted between August and October while the lucky few may get to marvel at the sight of the rare dugong. Most lodges in Mozambique are pleased to welcome all levels of divers and lessons can be arranged for both beginners and intermediates.