The historic town of Matatiele is situated in the lesser explored southern
Drakensberg, roughly seventy kilometers from Kokstad, where the Eastern Cape,
southern Lesotho and KwaZulu Natal share borders. The small village of Matatiele
lies overshadowed by the Matatiele Mountain, in what used to be called "no mans
land", which was a haven for horse thieves, gunrunners and smugglers in the 19th
Century. The town's name gains its origin from the Sotho words, "matata" meaning
wild ducks, and "ile" meaning gone, or to have left. The roughly translated
English version of the name means, the ducks have flown, which is a fitting name
because many years ago the region was once a place where an abundance of
waterfowl, not to mention lions and elephant, used to reside in numerous pools,
marshes, wetlands and pans.
An interesting variety of between forty and sixty bird species can still be found in the Matatiele area, however most of these are found on the Matatiele Mountain. Matatiele Mountain is considered amongst birdwatching enthusiasts to be the most accessible and reliable site in KwaZulu-natal for a variety of high altitude birds including some highly sought after special species which include Rudd's Lark, Yellow-breasted Pipit, Short-tailed Pipit, African Rock Pipit, Mountain Pipit, Cape Eagle-Owl, Buff-streaked Chat, Drakensberg Rock-jumper and Gurney's Sugarbird.
Today Matatiele exists mainly as a farming community, however there are a number of attractions available to visitors, such as the museum located in what was originally a garage, an auction room, a Dutch Reformed Church and lastly a telephone exchange, before being proclaimed a national monument. In an initiative to develop tourism as a source of income, visitors are accommodate by local communities, in traditional African guest houses, and cultural village tours and hiking trails are include as part of the package. Two nature reserves in the area include the Wilfred Bauer Nature Reserve where the Zedonk (a mix between a donkey and zebra) lives, and the Mountain Lake Reserve where a pristine lake stretches over an area of thirty hectares.
Guests Visit to Matatiele
Arrived at Matatiele (Eastern Cape) and glad to add to our "places to know"
Matatiele is probably half the size of Kokstad and also with a very impressive, tidy residential suburb.
The tiny Matatiele CBD is only about 5 street blocks long, and primarily confined to the main road only
The normal and typical shops and service providers such as take-outs, Pick n Pay, Tyre Sales and Repair shops to name a few, operate in town.
There must have been at least a dozen sign boards leading off the main road of Matatiele, pointing to what looked liked very neat and tidy Matatiele Bed and Breakfast or Guest Houses. Not too many Matatiele Self Catering properties were evident. Much like Kokstad, Matatiele looks like a good spot to stay over for reps or holiday makers travelling between KZN and the Eastern Cape. We were pleasantly surprised to overlook what seemed like a fairly well manicured golf course on our way out of town - Matatiele Golf Club looks like its worth investigating.
I think that whatever Matatiele accommodation is sought after, (business accommodation or familly stop-over accommodation) Matatiele will not fail to impress.
Cheers Matatiele...........on our way to Elliott.
Carlo and Ren