Pilgrim's Rest

Last updated: Jul 23, 2014

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The history of Pilgrim's Rest dates back to 1873 when a prospector named Alex Patterson found alluvial gold in the area. He had left the Mac Mac area looking for somewhere else to mine that was less congested. Patterson had tried to keep the discovery a secret, but when William Trafford also found gold nearby, the secret of the area's alluvial gold got out. This news spread quickly and suddenly prospectors from around the world were panning for gold in the area.

A town quickly developed in this beautiful valley, with brick houses, churches, shops and the well known Royal Hotel being built to accommodate the influx of prospectors. The town was named Pilgrim's Rest because after so many dreams had ended unfulfilled the prospector's had finally found their rest.

Eventually the alluvial deposits were depleted and many of the people in the area went into forestry. The town, however, has been preserved as a living museum for people to enjoy and to experience something of the life in the late 1800s in South Africa. Visitors can go on a walk through the town and enjoy the beauty of a former era. Many of the buildings have been well preserved and Pilgrim's Rest gives interesting insights into the area's history.

You can go gold panning in the town, and enjoy a chance to experience the life of the early prospectors. There is also a nine hole golf course, horse riding trails, hiking trails and trout fishing in and around the town.

After a day spent exploring, you can head to the famous local 'Church Bar' and enjoy a drink before turning in for a night at The Royal Hotel. The hotel has maintained its old world charm and the 50 en-suite rooms are decorated with antique furniture, brass beds, Victorian ball-and-claw baths, and wooden wardrobes.

If you are heading up to Mpumalanga this winter, make sure to stop at Pilgrim's Rest and enjoy this living museum with its unique charms and natural beauty.