Piet Retief

At the south-eastern tip of the province of Mpumalanga, against the border with Swaziland, you will find Piet Retief in the beautiful green Assegaai Valley. This place is named after one of the leaders of the Voortrekkers who moved from the Cape to the north-east of South Africa in search of more freedom. In February 1838, Piet Retief was murdered during this trip by Dengaan, the king of the Zulu people, after negotiations on the territory. This village was founded in 1882 (at the time a population of 72), and got its name. The new name has officially been eMkhondo since 2010 (many African place names have been changed by the government), but most people prefer to use Piet Retief.

Piet Retief is used by many people as a stop on the way to the southern resorts of Mozambique, the coast of Kwazulu Natal, the Kruger Park or Swaziland.

Piet Retief is located in a wooded area since this is a wood-producing region. For those who want to know and see how paper is made, a tour of the paper factory of Mondi Forest Pulp & Paper Plant is recommended, they are known for their efforts to produce paper in an environmentally friendly way. The biggest attraction in the village itself is the Dutch Reformed Church that was built in 1921 and designed by architect Gerard Moerdijk who also designed the Voortrekker Monument. Many Dutch people drive past one of the surrounding places to take a photo at the place name sign of Amsterdam, Ermelo or Amersfoort (depending on your route).

The various dams, rivers and streams here lend themselves well to (fly) fish. This area is also popular with bird lovers and hikers, there are different routes that vary in length from a few hours to several days. A well-known route is the Assegai Hiking Trail that leads you through beautiful hilly / mountainous areas. The Phongolo Highlands Hiking Trails are longer trips, from one to five days. Who wants to make a long trip can opt for the Ngcaka or Mpisi route. You will find most birds in the area south-east of Piet Retief.

What else you can do is visit the Piet Retief Game and Birds Park where a variety of local flora and fauna can be seen. At the Oribi Conservatory you can take a close look at these incredibly cute little antelopes, and they are committed to the existence of the oribi. At the information center you can learn more about the history of the village. Finally, there are a number of war monuments in the area such as the Zulu War Memorial and the memorial and cemetery in memory of the British soldiers who died during the Battle of Intombe.

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