The town of Nelspoort is a small community lying at the foot of the Nuweveld Mountains. It lies on a long-abandoned loop of the N1 between Beaufort West and Three Sisters, a land formation of three hills near Victoria West, on the road between Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Nelspoort is a very small railway town with an even smaller community. Much of the romance has faded like the hustle from the bars in the railway hotel. The locals welcome, in fact challenge, the modern world visitors to step out into the veld and explore!
The Bushmen have since gone, but Nelspoort's rock engravings contain many layers of history. They were created by San, by Khoi, later by European settlers and sundry travellers. With conservation in mind, permission must be obtained to visit the Nelspoort Rock Art sites. Among the boulders there are arrowheads, ostrich eggshell beads, old buttons and fragments from British and Boer soldiers.
When the European farmers settled here a Sanitorium was established and for a time it brought peace and healing to TB sufferers. Today, Nelspoort is visited by those who come to see the ancient relics of longlost peoples, the Karoo plants and the game which is farmed in the district and to enjoy the clear air and brilliant night skies.
Nelspoort is by no means a tourist town however, the Greater and Upper Karoo offers all types of accommodation with a 15 to 50 km radius.
Things to do and see
- Bushmen Rock Art Sites
- Nelspoort Sanitorium
- Kitchener’s Well
- Petersen’s Kop on Courlandskloof Farm
Nelspoort is regarding a desert climate with only 225 mm, on average, of rain per year with most of its annual rainfall taking place during summer.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 14˚C and 31˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 2˚C and 19˚C.
There are the domestic flights into George Airport which is approximately 286 km away via the N12. Road trips from cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg are also popular, and these can take between 5 to 8 hours respectively. Car hire facilities are available at all Airports.
The San were the first inhabitants of this area. The Bushmen are long since gone, but from the engravings of real and dream animals they left on the rocks one gets the feeling that the Bushmen were happy at Tierkloof.
Then in the 1700s, waves of semi-nomadic farmers arrived from the Cape. A century later a young Italian immigrant, John Molteno arrived and established a farming business by that name which developed into an enormous estate. He then left for Cape Town where he became the first Prime Minister of the Cape Colony leaving his family to continue running parts of the region until in 1944 the last portion was sold.
During the Anglo-Boer War hundreds of blockhouses were built in the area by the British to protect the railway link and in 1920 a Sanatorium was opened nearby for patients suffering from Tuberculosis and other pulmonary illnesses. The location took advantage of the dry, clean, fresh air of the Karoo mountains and provided employment for many local villagers. It produced excellent results, with visitors including the likes of the British royal family. By the 1970s though, tuberculosis was in decline and the sanatorium eventually closed.
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