Pilgrim's Rest

One of South Africa’s most loved and admired heritage sites, the tiny hamlet of Pilgrim’s Rest lies in the heart of the gold-specked Drakensberg Mountains. The action really kicked off here in the late 1800s when alluvial gold was discovered in the streams that trickle down the hillsides around the settlement, leading to a huge influx of people from around the world. Nowadays, Pilgrim’s Rest is a national monument, brimming with historic buildings and perfectly-restored and -maintained heritage sites. Not to mention its many hospitable bars, cafés and restaurants.

This war memorial commemorates men from P{ilgrim's Rest who fought and died during the First and Second World Wars. Photo courtesy of Robert Cutts

The Royal Hotel, which dates back to gold rush days, is now an icon in Pilgrim's Rest. Photo courtesy of cammaert

  • Alanglade House: A settler home with all mod cons from the turn of the twentieth century, when Pilgrim’s Rest had electricity before many of the world’s major cities. Why not do the ghost tour?
  • The Royal Hotel dates back to Gold Rush Days; take a beer here and you half-expect “Wheelbarrow” Paterson or Percy Fitzpatrick to tap you on the shoulder and tell you about the day’s discoveries
  • Cemetery and robber’s grave – Dead people from all over the world, but particularly from Ireland, Wales, Canada and the Antipodes, are buried in the Pilgrim's Rest Cemetary. All the graves face the rising sun except for one: the robber's
  • Gold-panning – Pilgrim’s Rest frequently hosts the World Gold Panning Championships. If you are going to make your fortune, it will probably be here
  • Jock of the Bushveld, a Staffordshire bull terrier, belonged to Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, a gold-panner, turned transport-rider, turned politician. His world-renowned book Jock of the Bushveld has never been out of print and has spawned three movies. This is where it all began
  • Die spook in die hoek  The town offers a magnificent ghost tour, starting at Alanglade and ending after dark in the cemetery. There’s no end to the number of Pilgrim’s Rest’s ghosts and they are still very active, even if the town has slowed down to live in the past.

Did you know?

Pilgrim’s Rest was home to an emergency mint during the second Anglo-Boer War. Only 986 veldponde, or "field pounds", were struck, making the veldpond one of the world’s rarest coins.

For more information

Pilgrim's Rest Information: +27 (0)13 768 1060

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