First known as Bushmans River due to its proximity to water, Estcourt became the front of the Anglo-Boer War in 1899 and is a popular place for tourists and travelers to visit as it is close to the Weenen Game Reserve and the Thukela Biosphere. Estcourt was named after Thomas Estcourt, an English parliamentarian who sponsored the immigration of settlers to the area, and is today the gateway to the central Drakensberg region.
There is a memorial in the town to commemorate the murder of Piet Retief and his followers by the Zulu King, Dingaan, while other sites include the Armoured Train Cemetery, where Winston Churchill was captured, and Brynbella Hill, the area of high ground for the Boers as they made their way south. The stone wall used by the Boers and the British during a skirmish in 1899 is still there and is today a national monument.
Hiking trails are prolific, especially in the New Formosa Nature Reserve where you can see lots of game, otherwise head for the old Furrow Walking trail and the Moor Park Nature Reserve, wonderful for both hiking and bird watching.
Vaalribbokkop Cave Hike is a great trip where you can experience the beautiful caves of Estcourt as well as a few Bushman paintings. Access the cave from Jacobs Ladder, the Mhlwazini River or the Valley of Pools. There are two main sleeping areas with a third smaller area at the far end, past a small waterfall.
Zulu Waters Game Reserve is located near Estcourt, and offers horse riding tours of the reserve to guests as part of the package. Wildlife that riders may get close to during their rides includes buffalo, rhino, wildebeest, zebra and a variety of antelope.
- Zulu waters game reserve
- Hiking trails
- Vaalribbokkop cave hike
When the Anglo-Boer War broke out on 10 October 1899, the Boer forces had 21,000 men ready to invade the Colony of Natal. Estcourt effectively became the front and this is where General Sir Redvers Buller first established his Natal headquarters and where Winston Churchill, then a war correspondent based himself.