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Klaarstroom Heritage & Eco-tourism News

 Klaarstroom, the hamlet on the other side of Meiringspoort. Photos - Klaarstroom Guest HouseKlaarstroom, the hamlet on the other side of Meiringspoort. Photos - Klaarstroom Guest House

 

Klaarstroom is a picturesque, peaceful, authentic Victorian, working farm village situated at the foot of the Swartberg Mountains. The village is positioned at the Great Karoo entrance to Meiringspoort, a spectacular gorge through the Swartberg mountain range which links the Great Karoo and the Little Karoo (Klein Karoo).

The old inner village is conveniently and quietly situated behind sheltering koppies, just 500m off the N12. This makes Klaarstroom a convenient stopover en route from the north of the country to the Garden Route and Southern Cape coast. It is also halfway between Cape Town and the malaria-free game-farms and reserves that have the Big Five in the Eastern Cape, offering guests the ideal opportunity to enjoy the traditional charms and big skies of a Karoo stopover on their way to a safari adventure.

Klaarstroom also serves as a stopover for cyclists, hikers, adventurers and 4×4 enthusiasts from the Cape Town area who wish to get a close and early start before exploring Baviaanskloof (just 90km from Klaarstroom along a good gravel road, and 110km on tar).

Next time you are driving along the road towards Meiringspoort, turn into Klaarstroom and soak up its unique “platteland” (rural) charm.

 
Klaarstroom’s history

Klaarstroom, meaning “clear stream”, was established in the mid-19th century. It presented the first opportunity to farmers from deep in the Great Karoo, en route to the small port of Mossel Bay, to wash their precious cargo of wool in the clear mountain streams. A wool-washing facility was soon established. Time, technology, the railroad and modern highways passed Klaarstroom by with the wool-washing facility having long since disappeared.

Today the tiny inner village is hidden away from the nearby highway. It remains an historical snapshot of a Southern African Victorian village: there are three church buildings (the Anglican one still in regular use with an active congregation), a Victorian police station, a General Dealer Store, a hotel/bar/restaurant, an authentic old world guest house and excellent examples of restored Victorian homesteads. The Anglican Church cemetery has two South African War/Anglo-Boer War graves – each with its own story.

In Denys Reitz’s Anglo-Boer War memoir, ‘Commando’, the author relates how, having been informed that General Smuts had crossed the Swartberg into the district of Oudtshoorn, his commando makes its way towards the mountain range. Klaarstroom’s connections to the South African War seem very vivid on a crisp night under moonlight and stars when you can almost still hear the hooves of Denys Reitz’s commando clattering down the road into town: “After this we went more carefully, and sunrise found us leading our horses up the street of a tiny village standing at the bottom of the pass. Dogs began to bark, and windows to open, and we saw soldiers running to a large building, so we mounted and rode hastily out.” This “tiny village” is Klaarstroom and the large building is the police station which still stands today.  (information from the Prince Albert Tourism website)

 

Klaarstroom & the Anglo Boer War

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Picture of one of the British War Graves in Klaarstroom 

 

The two British War Graves in the Graveyard of the Good Shepherd Anglican Church in Klaarstroom 

 

 

 

 

An extract from General Jan Smuts and his Long Ride by Taffy and David Shearing covering the escape of Denys Reitz over the Swartberg. Reitz would have passed some of the sites shown above...