Bergville, less than 40km from the Amphitheatre, is a small town lying in the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains and is known as the gateway to the Northern Drakensberg. It lies on the R74, which is a much more scenic route than the faster N3 Toll Road. The town was established as Bergville Mountain Village in 1897 and is now the commercial centre for a 2,500 km² dairy and cattle ranching area. A blockhouse was built by the British soldiers in the town during the Second Boer War – the building is today a monument and museum in the grounds of the local Court House.
Nearby, you will find the Spioenkop Dam, the Rugged Glen Nature Reserve, Cathkin Peak State Forest and Monk’s Cowl, so this little oasis is the perfect base for exploring the Drakensberg.
Only 4km from the Royal Natal gate, you will find the Rugged Glen Nature Reserve, which has wonderful nature trails and superb trout fishing despite its small size. It was originally a farm and also one of the most important archaeological areas in South Africa, with sites from the Early, Middle and Late Stone Ages as well as the Late Iron Age. There are two hikes: the Forest Walk and the Camel’s Hump. The latter has incredible views over the reserve all the way across the escarpment.
The Monks Cowl Nature Reserve is named after the peak located between Champagne Castle and Cathkin Peak. Hiking is the obvious choice around here – routes vary in intensity and length so choose according to your fitness levels. For those who want to undertake an overnight hike, remember that you will need to book your accommodation before you set off. Don’t miss the many caves used by the San – the rock art is well worth seeing.
The Rangeworthy Military Cemetery, part of the Battlefields Route, will be of interest to those into military history, containing as it does the graves of British soldiers killed in the battles of Spioenkop and Bastion Hill. Please note though, that this cemetery is on private land so do ask the farmer’s permission before visiting. We recommend using a knowledgeable guide so you can get the best out of your visit.
There are numerous other military monuments, cemeteries and points of interest in and around Bergville, including a Royal Lancaster Regiment mass grave, a Boer Monument, the Aloe Knoll and Twin Peaks and the Imperial Light Monument.
Art lovers must be sure not to miss Ardmore Ceramics, a ceramic art gallery owned by Fee Halsted, whose distinctive designs are styled into functional, superb quality ceramic and non-ceramic products including dinnerware, tapestries, furniture and fabrics for soft furnishings.
The Spioenkop Dam was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Anglo-Boer War but is today a tranquil spot comprising 4 400 hectares of thorn savannah. It is a popular watersport destination, but wildlife lovers can also enjoy its game reserve feel – white rhino, giraffe, zebra, etc all graze happily among the thorn bushes. Take either a 3km or 6km walk around the dam, following the Discovery Trail and stop for a picnic at the numerous sites.