Pilgrims Rest – an old gold mining town
Pilgrims Rest Graskop
Pilgrims Rest is a historical gold mining town situated on the magnificent Panorama Route in the Lowveld region of the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa.
Where is Pilgrims Rest?
Pilgrims Rest is in the Mpumalanga Province on the R533.
Hoedspruit to Pilgrims Rest directions: Travel westerly on the R527. Carry on straight with the R36 towards Ohrigstad. Pass Ohrigstad and drive till you see the R533 turn off to the left towards Pilgrims Rest. Travel time 1hr 45 minutes. Alternatively, you follow the route through the JG Strydom Tunnel and turn off onto the R532 and follow the Panorama Route. The R532 intercepts the R533. Turn left towards Pilgrims Rest. Depending on how many times you stop along the Panorama Route, this could take you at least 4 hours to reach Pilgrims Rest…
Hoedspruit to Pilgrims Rest distance: 140km via JG Strydom Tunnels and Ohrigstad
Best time to go to Pilgrims Rest:
All year round. Winter months (May, June July) can be a bit cool and the summer months can get hot (November, December, January and February)
Places to eat
Prospector Hiking Trail
Places to see
Alanglade House Museum
The historical Royal Hotel
Bourkes Luck Potholes
Pilgrim’s Rest is situated on the magnificent Panorama Route in the Lowveld region of the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa. The area is richly imbued with a diversity of natural, cultural, and historic gems. The uniqueness of this historic village is vividly evident in its museums and historic sites and The Royal Hotel. It offers the visitor a fascinating window into the past and captures the spirit of a bygone era and its people in their quest for gold.
Pilgrims Rest Graskop – a historical gold mining town
The entire town of Pilgrim’s Rest was declared a National Monument in 1986. This was done as a living memory of the early gold rush days in South Africa during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Since then, a dedicated team of historians, architects, curators, and special interest groups closely monitor all developments and refurbishments in the village to maintain its historic appearance.
The Gold Rush
The first gold rush in South Africa took place in 1873. Payable gold was discovered on the farm Geelhoutboom near the town of Sabie (5km from Pilgrim’s Rest – as the crow flies). President Burgers, who visited the site, officially named “MacMac” and the name stuck. Everyone referred to it as the MacMac Diggings.
One of the diggers, Alex Wheelbarrow Patterson left the crowed MacMac diggings and went to explore his new territory. He earned his nickname Wheelbarrow when he arrived at MacMac with all his belongings in a wheelbarrow that he had pushed all the way from Cape Town.
He struck it rich in a stream later called Pilgrims Creek but did not share his find with anybody. Not long afterward another digger William Trafford also found gold in the stream and registered the claim with the Gold Commissioner at MacMac.
The news sparked off the biggest gold rush of the time and on the 22nd of September 1873 Pilgrims Rest officially proclaimed a gold field. In January 1874 the Gold Commissioner, Major MacDonald moved his office from MacMac to Pilgrims Rest as some 1400 diggers were working over 4000 claims in and around Pilgrims Creek.
By 1876 most of the tents were replaced with more permanent structures (usually timber and corrugated iron) and various businessmen began to trade and supply the gold diggers. This was the birth of Pilgrim’s Rest.
For accommodation options in the Hoedspruit area click here