Wild Horses of Kaapsehoop
The historic mining village of Kaapsehoop is situated about 25 kilometers from the town of Nelspruit in the South African province of Mpumalanga. The Kaapsehoop area offers exceptionally beautiful landscapes, complete with gushing waterfalls, indigenous forests and rugged hillsides. A large area of the grasslands of Kaapsehoop has been designated as a protected National Heritage Site and is a haven for endemic birds including breeding pairs of the endangered Blue Swallow. It is within this paradise-like setting that the legendary wild horses of Kaapsehoop roam freely.
There are many fables as to the origin of the Kaapsehoop wild horses. During the more than 100 years that these stunning horses have roamed the area, stories have changed and been embellished on until no-one really knows what is truth and what is fiction. Whatever their origin, up to 200 feral horses enjoy the freedom of the 17,000 hectares around Kaapsehoop and are loyally protected by locals. The breed of the horses seems to be predominantly Boerperd and herd sizes range from small bachelor herds of 3 or 4, to structured herds of more than 20 horses.
There are numerous eco-friendly tours available which give visitors the opportunity to see the natural beauty of Kaapsehoop on horseback, in much the same way that pioneering miners did in the past. Experienced guides lead the horseback tours along the magnificent Drakensberg escarpment, which offers a breath-taking view over the Barberton valley. Riders will also be given the opportunity to experience the excitement of galloping alongside the Kaapsehoop wild horses. Tours include a visit to the old mines and swimming in the cool, clear water of pools below the waterfalls.
Gold was discovered in the area, which was originally known as Duiwels Kantoor (literally meaning Devil’s Office), a name which came about because of the shape of the large sandstone boulders which naturally formed a room with tables and chairs surrounded by trees, giving the setting a somber and even sinister look. The first government buildings were erected in 1885 and the name of the developing town was changed to Kaapsehoop in 1886. Many of the original buildings from the 1800s still stand today and visitors can enjoy a meal at the restaurants and pubs, as well as do some shopping at the quaint arts and crafts stores.
South Africa is truly a country of great natural beauty and diversity. Visitors to the Kaapsehoop area in Mpumalanga should not hesitate to explore its beauty on horseback and enjoy the exhilaration of riding alongside the Kaapsehoop wild horses.