The history of Botshabelo is one of growth from a place of refuge for Christians in South Africa into an important and influential centre where the Gospel was proclaimed among Black people, where Black and White received education and training and where commerce and industry were practised.
During the 1860's two young German missionaries from the Berlin Mission Society, Alexander Merensky and Heinrich Grützner arrived in South Africa and bought a farm in the Olifants River valley near Middelburg and established a mission station named Botshabelo (Place of Refuge or sanctuary).
A fort was also built to protect the settlement called Fort Wilhelm and this eventually became Fort Merensky. A small town developed around the mission and includes a 2300ha nature reserve. The historical little town includes a beautiful little church and many period buildings.
Botshabelo, now a museum, provides a fair representation of the mission station of a century ago. The area is a site museum and has a great deal to offer tourists, hikers and historians alike.
The Ndebele village at Botshabelo is an open-air museum established to preserve the tribal culture. The "living" museum reveals the three distinct phases in their architectural development. People actually live in the huts and may be allowed in with the residents permission.
Absolutely unique to the Ndebele's are their geometrically decorated huts. A visit to Botshabelo is a recreational and educational experience.
Three hiking trails of different lengths have been developed. These are well marked and focus on the Klein Olifants River and the gorge through which it flows. There is no need to book the trails and payment is included in with the cost of the entrance at the main gate.
Accommodation in the form of various selfcatering units can be booked through the contact number on this page.
Tel: +27 (013) 245-9900 / 11
Fax: +27 (013) 245-9916
Cell: +27 (083) 627-4258
How to get there
From Johannesburg and Pretoria, take the N4 to Middelburg and turn into the R35 to Groblersdal. Turn left 12km from Middelburg at the Botshabelo sign. The entrance gate is only a short distance from the turn-off.