X marks the spot at Pilgrim’s Rest, the second gold rush town in South Africa. This historic village became a goldfield in 1873 when two prospectors struck it lucky in a small stream. People flocked here in their quest for riches, with tents and businesses springing up overnight. Chart your route to this hamlet and search for your bounty.
GO: Wind back in time on the meandering Panorama Route in Mpumalanga. As you wander the streets that reflect the history of Pilgrim’s Rest, feel what it was like for the adventurous people who once dug for their fortunes here.
SEE: This entire town was declared a National Monument in the 1980s. Now a dusty window into the past, dedicated groups of architects and historians maintain the integrity of the golden days of Pilgrim’s Rest.
Search for ghosts at the cemetery with a tour guide, where all but one gravestone face east towards the rising sun. The infamous Robber’s Grave lies to the south. Layers of legend bury the truth of who the thief is and what he did to deserve such a resting place. Whispers of betrayal, heartbreak, and lynching have been passed over the centuries.
DO: Stay at the painstakingly preserved Royal Hotel, and get a sense of the Victorian-era accommodation that characterised this town’s heyday.
Try your hand at panning for gold in the Blyde River that put this town on the map. The largest nugget found in Pilgrim’s Rest weighed around six kilograms. Most of the treasured precious metal was alluvial – gold dust in the muddy sediment of the riverbank.
In Pilgrim’s Rest, relive a bygone era when precarious claims were staked, and livelihoods were made or washed away in an instant.