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  • Lisa Martus

VILLAGE LIFE IN THE HAMLET OF HAENERTSBURG

Tucked into the embrace of the Wolkberg mountains on the edge of the Great Escarpment in Limpopo, lies the quaint village of Haenertsburg, midway between Polokwane and Tzaneen along Route-71. The town offers visitors a delightful selection of restaurants, street cafés, pubs and shops. Small and charming, yet surrounded by wide open spaces, grasslands and mountains… you will be forgiven for wanting to stay a bit longer. Magoebaskloof and the picturesque village of Haenertsburg, have become a popular tourist destination in the past few years due to the breathtaking scenery, the 'local is lekker' culture of the mountain folk who call it home, its proximity to the big cities like Jozi and Tshwane and, of course, the range of things to do.


The rich history of the gold mining era and the Anglo Boer War has shaped the character and feel of the Village. The Pennefather Gold Mining Company replicates the feel of an olden-day High Street with shop fronts named after the mining companies that worked the area when the town was founded in 1887 - Never Despair and New Found Out. Visitors can find Dutch delicacies; collectibles; clothing; jewellery and gifts or enjoy coffee and cake on the stoep at Inneberg Coffee Shop after browsing through the wide selection of second-hand books; Africana and local authors at Memory Hold-the-Door Bookshop. The six cottages with their zinc roofs and broekie-lace detail over the stoep, each reflect a different persona of the people who shaped the town. Ferdinand Haenert, for example, gave his name to the town after gold was discovered in the area by Karl Mauch. Doel Zeederberg started a stagecoach service linking Pietersberg (Polokwane) to Leydsdorp in the lowveld via Haenertsburg. The Zeederberg Coaches famously (but briefly) tried using zebras instead of horses but this proved to be a failure. Rider Haggard made the area famous with his enchanting novels depicting the scenery and stories of the Magoebaskloof area, including the book ‘She’ with the alluring account of the Rain Queen, Modjadji.


Cosy and comfortable accommodation establishments in Haenertsburg give you the opportunity to wander down to the village and browse in the antique shops, or to stop off for a glass of wine and a light meal at the restaurants. The Little Inn Guesthouse, two streets up from the main road, offers country-style accommodation in a charming two-bedroom self-catering cottage with a cosy fireplace in the lounge for winter nights. Also a stone’s throw away from the centre of town, L’Orange Guest House, one of the oldest houses in town, built in the early 1960’s and the French-style Art Gallery Guest House with scenic views from the balcony and complimentary firewood & sherry for cold evenings. The House of Art BnB, perched up on a hill in the heart of Haenertsburg has quirky accommodation in two lovely rooms one with a view into the pretty garden and the other over the grasslands. The house reflects the artistic nature of the owner, Marion, who offers regular hands-on pottery, stained glass and mosaic classes at her Earth Creations studio to anyone who wants to tap in on their creative side.


In the High Street, you can stop in for some retail therapy at Earth By Nature Complex which is an Aladdin’s Cave of gifts, chocolate truffles, lotions and potions, handmade soap, art and indoor plants as well as Boerboel men’s clothing and veldskoene, spa treatments as well as Black Apple Interior Design and Keller Williams Property Agency. This is a shopping experience that will satisfy all your senses. Across the road is Blackburn Leather, where you can find hand- crafted, genuine leather bags, belts and sandals as well as beautiful Nguni hide rugs.


On the outskirts of Haenertsburg, you will find the stylish Viewpoint Guest House and Cabins. Viewpoint lives up to its name with soaring views over to Haenertsburg Village, nestled beneath the Iron Crown mountain. Viewpoint Guesthouse boasts six tasterful, newly-renovated en-suite bedrooms and spacious verandas opening onto breathtaking views - a tranquil retreat from the outside world. Combining modern comfort and refined, old-world charm, Viewpoint’s seven self-catering Cabins are sought-after as a base to explore the area. You can enjoy your private garden and barbeque area or snuggle up next to the fireplace on a misty day. Just 2 km from town, the quaint and cozy Woodcutters Guest House has a timber deck with views over the lake and great birding in the garden. A historical building built in the 1890’s, Copperwing Guest House is set on a tranquil hill only a kilometre from Haenertsburg. Its views over the Magoebaskloof hills make it a relaxing retreat for writing, birdwatching or hiking.


The Grassland on the edge of the Village was declared a Nature Reserve in 2016 and has footpaths created for nature-lovers to appreciate this special environment. When you take the time to explore the Grasslands, you will find that this is a home to many species - there are plants growing here which you will find nowhere else in the world. The Louis Chanquion hiking trail meanders through these grasslands, and although it is a lovely, long winding route, there are various shortcuts back to the Village. The atmospheric Haenertsburg Cemetery, where the earliest residents are buried, is a short walk straight uphill and has spectacular views over the town.


Whatever it is you choose to do, you will be enchanted by the spectacular scenery, delicious farm fare, larger-than-life locals and a fabulous vibe. A great time to visit is during one of the festivals when Haenertsburg pulls out all the stops to celebrate Blueberries in February. Book an extra night or two when the Haenertsburg Food & Wine Fair brings the Village to life over the May-day long weekend or in September, when you can celebrate Spring by meandering through the famous gardens, bursting with blooms in Magoebaskloof. See you there!


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