Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A visit to Matatiele in the Eastern Cape highlands

I haven't really had the opportunity to venture into the North Eastern Cape so a first visit to Matatiele in the Eastern Cape highlands near boundary with Kwa-Zulu Natal was on the cards while en route to the Drakensberg in December.  Matatiele services the surrounding villages and farming community and gives a very good first impression.  Even though it was a long weekend and only about a week before Christmas, the town was neat and tidy, unlike some of the other towns we passed through on our way there.  Surrounded by the the Southern Drakensberg, Matatiele is a great starting or finishing point for trips into neighbouring Lesotho, especially for bikers.  

A very popular activity in the area is fly-fishing and for that Matatiele has the perfect spot. The Matatiele Mountain Lake.  This 30-hectare lake is located in the mountain above town and forms part of the Matatiele Nature Reserve which is a core protected area within the Maloti Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation Area.    

It was up to this lake that Phillip Rawlins, owner of Resthaven Guesthouse in town, brought us while showing us around town. Wow, what a beautiful and peaceful spot.  He explained that the lake is a natural lake fed by three springs and not a dam.  It means that the water is clean and unpolluted and the perfect spot to fish for rainbow trout.  

Driving back down the pass to town this was the view of Matatiele with Lesotho off beyond the mountains on the horizon.  I wish our stay was long enough to venture over the border with Phillip (the invitation was there), but the Drakensberg was calling and our time limited.  Next time I will definitely slot in an extra day or two to visit the Mountain Kingdom.

While in Matatiele we stayed at the excellent Resthaven Guesthouse.  Resthaven is located on the main drag through town and offers 22 rooms stretched over four buildings on the property surrounded by lush green lawns.  Owners Phillip and Elrita welcomed us with open arms and typical small town hospitality was evident the whole time we were there.  Breakfasts were spot on but I can't help but to comment on the dinners.  No fancy meals, no extensive menu, just good hearty plates of food, well prepared by Phillip and the kitchen staff.  The guesthouse is the perfect overnight spot for anybody wanting to stay over in Matatiele.

Disclosure: We stayed over in Matatiele at the invitation of the owners of Resthaven Guesthouse who I have known for many years.  They didn't expect me to do a blog post about the town nor the guesthouse and will probably be very surprised if they get to see this.  All opinions are my own and they had no input on the content of this post. 

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