Pilgrim's Rest

Pilgrim's Rest in Mpumalanga is one location on the Panorama Route that should not be missed. This small town is literally a living museum and national monument to the gold rush days of yore. Much of the town is still the original buildings of the town's heydays and the area in and around the town offers visitors a great many diversions.

The exact history of Pilgrim's Rest will always be wreathed in a little mystery, but it is generally accepted that Alec 'Wheelbarrow' Patterson was the first person to find gold on the farm of Poniekrantz in 1873. While he kept the discovery a secret, soon after another miner, William Trafford also discovered gold and the secret leaked out. In a matter of months the area was inundated with hopefuls and on 22 September of the same year, the town of Pilgrim's Rest was officially staked out.

Perfectly preserved buildings become living museums

Today Pilgrim's Rest is a beautiful, historical location where visitors can get a look at the old gold mining life. The area has a number of walking trails in and around the village to appreciate the splendour of the area and to see the old historic buildings. Many of the old buildings are still intact. Visitors can look inside a typical wood and corrugated iron home of the era at the House Museum, see how a general store worked at the Drezden Shop and have a drink at the famous Royal Hotel where locals will share some of the local legends.

Pilgrim's Rest has two magnificent period churches. The oldest is the Anglican Church that was built soon after the town became 'official'. The Catholic Church was built second in the town. Both churches still serve their original function but are also living museums showcasing the life of the times.

Take a look at the local industries at the Printing Shop where the local newspapers were printed. The original printing presses are still there along with some old copies of Pilgrim's Rest own papers. For the adventurous, a visit to the gold panning sites is worthwhile. Learn how gold was mined in the waters surrounding the area and even try your own hand at panning for gold. There is still some gold left in the water…or so they say.

The area around Pilgrim's Rest is also a great attraction. The Ponieskrantz stables offer horseback tours of the local area. These tours allow visitors to not just see town but the natural splendour of the area as well. There are also hiking tours and mountain bike trails throughout the area and bird watching tours and trails.

Situated on the Panorama Route through scenic Mpumalanga, Pilgrim's Rest is must for visitors to the area. There area needs a few days to appreciate fully but there is more than enough for day visitors to feel that they have seen most of the area. Pilgrim's Rest is a living museum that some people still call home. Gold mining is even taking place in the hills near the town to this day. A visit to Pilgrim's Rest is like stepping back in time, if only for a little while.

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