Utrecht lies nestled in the foothills of the Balele Mountain Range, just 50 km from Newcastle, and is unique in the fact that it is situated within the Utrecht Balele Community Game Park with no fences between the town and the game park.
This unique fact means, more often than you may think, wildlife can be spotted roaming the streets after dark – when the human population are asleep, and they feel less threatened! The surrounding beauty of the fauna and flora that lies this close to the town is a real attraction for those choosing Utrecht as a tourist destination.
Utrecht serves as an eco-tourism centre and offers commercial hunting as a part of the game management programme. Other popular outdoor activities include trout fishing, hiking, cycling, birdwatching and the nearby dam is also a wonderful spot for picnics.
For anyone interested in history, this quaint little town is almost an historical monument. It is one of only five of the original Voortrekker settlements that were set up before 1850 and therefore has many historical sites and buildings can be found in and around the town. Utrecht boasts plenty of character, charm, culture and historical heritage!
Some must see historical sites to stop by at are the Dutch Reformed Church, the Museum and a number of the colonial style residential homes.
Utrecht accommodation includes self-catering, guesthouses and B&B’s.
Things to do and see
- Utrecht Museum
- Old Parsonage
- Utrecht Dutch Reformed Church
- Utrecht Old Anglican Church
- British Military Cemetery
- The Shaw House
- Uys House
- Petrus Lafras Uys Memorial
- Captain Pokrowski Memorial & Wall of Remembrance
- Utrecht Balele Game Reserve
Utrecht receives approximately 615 mm of rain annually with most rainfall occurring during the summer months.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 14˚C and 27˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 3˚C and 20˚C.
There are daily flights into Pietermaritzburg Airport, approximately 302 km away and into Johannesburg’s O R Tambo International Airport, approximately 343 Km both via the N3. There are also daily flights into Durban’s King Shaka International Airport, approximately 353 km away via the R34. Car hire facilities are available at both Airports.
The history of Utrecht in Natal began in 1852 when a group of Dutch Voortrekkers from the Cape settled along the Buffalo River in Natal. In 1854 a group of cattlemen obtained from Mpane, the Zulu King, grazing rights in the area of northern Natal between the Buffalo and the Bloed Rivers. Having been granted grazing rights however, the ranchers then claimed the land as their own and opened an independent republic which they named Utrecht after the ancient city in Holland.
Andries Pretorius, as a governor, disapproved of them having to settle in the area as it fell outside the proclaimed boundaries of the Transvaal and was afraid that the British might see it as an encroachment and in the process endangering the existence of the Republic of Transvaal. A.T. Spies was elected as governor of the newly formed republic. Utrecht approached the Transvaal government for incorporation, and this was done to make their stay more protected against any form of attack.
The Utrecht Republic was absorbed into the then Transvaal in 1858 and at the end of the Anglo-Boer War it was returned to Natal.
In 1900 British troops occupied Utrecht during South African War of 1899 - 1902 as their headquarters. The nearby Buffalo River was an ideal place to grow vegetation and it was going to be easy for them to get water for their daily needs.
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