A hankering for a rural life is what drove some modern-day investors to buy the village of Verkykerskop and develop it as an ecologically safe place to live and a weekend breakaway for stressed urbanites.
Verkykerskop nestles against the sandstone cliffs of the Klein Drakensberg in the Thabo Mafutsanyana region of the Eastern Free State, a three-hour drive from Johannesburg. The village is located on the farm Aansluit. With five roads leading out to other communities in the area, Verkykerskop became something of a community centre during and after the second Anglo-Boer War and a police outpost, school, blacksmith, post office and grain mill were established here.
Today the tranquil village is being upgraded, based on a strong “green” philosophy. Other than an old mill, most of the original dwellings, dating back to the 1940s, have been converted into tourist cottages and guesthouses. The village now sports an art gallery, a shop selling farming supplies, a sports pub, a tea garden, an antique shop and restaurants. There’s a carpentry workshop, where old furniture is restored, a motel, a coffee shop and deli, a wine shop and a butchery.
There are plans to build a chapel, in keeping with the “olde worlde” theme of the village. Verkykerskop’s lack of a church is perhaps a reason why the village never grew in size.
Look out for
There’s much wetland birding in the area, including the small Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve, which attracts migratory species such as the blue crane.
There are a number of mountain passes to travel to in the area – De Beers, Muller, Collins and Normandien Passes are interesting and scenic.
Hiking trails exist in the form of the Langberg Hiking trail, as well as the 15-kilometre overnight trail in the Boschberg Nature Reserve. This reserve has wildlife and some adventure activities such as rock-climbing and gorge-gliding.
The Ncandu State Forest Reserve with its beautiful waterfalls has trail opportunities for both hikers and horse riders.
Other activities that can be arranged in the village include bass and fly-fishing, back-road bike and off-road scrambler tours and mountain-biking.
Keep an eye out for music festivals featuring performers such as Chris Chameleon, Valiant Swart and Karen Zoid.