Ask anybody where Geluksburg is and the answer will be, “Never heard of this place before.”
Words by Henk Viljoen
This small village lies about 24 km from Bergville between somewhere and nowhere. To be precise, it lies between the Oliviershoek and Van Reenen passes in the north-western corner of KwaZulu-Natal.
According to the Dictionary of South African Place Names, the name is Afrikaans for ‘happiness town’ or ‘fortune city’, presumably taking its name from the farm Geluk, Afrikaans for happiness and good fortune. The generic term burg is Afrikaans for castle, stronghold or keep, but is frequently used for town and cities.
The region has played an interesting and important role in the history of the Bushmen, Zulu, Boer and British. The Bushmen were the original inhabitants of the region and were forcibly displaced by African tribes, and more so, the early European settlers. Shaka’s mfecane or war on his neighbours during the early 1800s took its toll on the people of this area.
Geluksburg is also known for the nearby Lost Valley. Here a group of Piet Retief’s trek broke away and settled in the valley and was only discovered 115 years later by a reporter of the Sunday Times.
But let’s get back to the village. Here you can really get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The village lies at the foot of the Ntinwa mountains and if people say they want to escape the rat race, this is the place to go.
At the moment about 60 families live here. There is a crèche, two primary schools, but no high school. Pupils have to attend school in either Bergville or Ladysmith. There are two shops – Hansa, a small trading store, and a shebeen/pub. There is no ATM or garage.
The villagers all do what do best. Like Margie Miller, the local hairdresser. Then there’s Joey Lourens the baker; Penny Human the owner of The Homestead who carts the high school children to Bergville and back; Ina and Geoff Lake the owners of Gina’s and Ina is also the local real estate broker; Kay Thorne has K’s coffee shop; and Phil and Ann Rooke run a three-bedroom, self-cater establishment called Marmalade.
Some Sundays, if the number of congregants doesn’t warrant the use of the church, the gathering is moved to the coffee shop.
From Geluksburg you can access various historical sites like Kerkenberg, Retiefklip, Die Kaalvoetvrou statue and Spioenkop. The KZN Battlefields around Ladysmith is about 47 kilometres away.
It’s also ideal for cyclists, hikers, quads and 4X4s. The Lost Valley is a unique land formation, one of only two found in South Africa. This chasm, 2 km wide and 15 km long is home to indigenous fauna and flora of the Drakensburg. The valley can be seen from the Middledale, pass but is only accessible by quad, mountain bikes or hiking. The road is too narrow for any 4×4 vehicle
There are no ATMs, and no petrol there are two shops. One is more sjebeen and the other a little Indian shop, Hansa, which is now in the third generation.
The area is also ideal for cyclists, hikers, quads and 4X4s. The Lost Valley is a unique land formation. This chasm, 2km wide and 15km long, is home to many of the indigenous fauna and flora of the Drakensburg. The valley can be seen from the Middledale pass but is only accessible by quad, mountain bike or on foot. The road is too narrow for a 4×4 vehicle.
Where to Play:
Bergville or Ladysmith is the nearest towns.
Where to Sleep:
Homestead: 3-star hotel with 26 double rooms
Gina’s : Self-cater accommodation, with 14 rooms that sleep 77 guests
Marmalade: Self-cater accommodation
Where to Eat:
Bring your own food and drinks.
There are no ATMs or banks, no petrol and no shops, besides the little general dealer.