Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Retiefklip (Retief Rock)

One of the things I was quite anxious to see when I was in the Drakensberg area was Retiefklip.  I asked at the resort where we were staying how to get there and was told that the road was very badly damaged in the rain that fell in the week or so before.  Seeing that I probably won't get back to that area soon again, the explorer in me decided to take a chance anyway.  I don't know where the young lady got her information, but other than having to carefully navigate my Chev Aveo past one or two badish spots, the road was better than a lot of gravel roads I have travelled on.

The Great Trek reached this area in 1837 after traveling from the Cape Colony (Eastern Cape and Western Cape) through the Free State.  The Voortrekker put up their laager in the shadow of the mountain in the picture above and a service was held to thank God for protecting them and bringing them this far.  The Voortrekker called the mountain Kerkenberg (Church Mountain).  Upon arriving in the Free State, there was a dispute amongst the Boers as to the final destination of the Great Trek.  One of the main leaders, Piet Retief, chose Natal.  On 7 October 1837 he left the laager with 14 men to scout Natal in advance.  On 12 November 1837, his daughter Deborah painted her fathers name on a rock below Kerkenberg to commemorate his birthday.
To get to Retiefklip one has to squeeze through a narrow opening between the sandstone rocks

The original writing done by Deborah has been enclosed in glass to preserve it.  Around it a lot of other graffiti have been added over the years.  Some of it date back to the 1800's, but unfortunately some has been added in later years by folk who feel nothing for heritage sites like this one.


  1. Giving false info does keep people away from a sensitive area. Sure glad you persisted. Looks like a beautiful place, but what isn't in the Bergs. Too bad about the "modern" writings, but then someday it too shall be history.

  2. 1800s! whoaaaa .. then and now people STILL craving nand writing on stone! Wonderful post!

  3. An interesting history lesson. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  4. Thrilled to find these pix. Was lucky enough to live on a farm within a km of Kerkenberg for close on 10 years. (Now I live in Spain - not as beautiful but could be worse).