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Koffylaagte Valley, Eastern Cape

Koffylaagte – Our History

Koffylaagte enjoys a rich and colourful history! The name which literally interpreted means “Coffee Hollow” is based on a hybrid spelling of the Afrikaans word for coffee “koffie” and hollow “laagte”. In the early 1800’s, the settlers established Algoa Bay (now known as Port Elizabeth) as a trading port. This port attracted traders to travel from the inland to the coast, traveling through the Karoo either on horseback or ox-drawn wagons. These arduous journeys required the travellers to rest from time to time – they arrived in this valley, stretched between two steeps hills, and rested at what was known as Koffylaagte Outspan.

The British Colonial government decided at one stage to build a toll gate at Koffylaagte and collect a fee from the incoming traders. Later this practise created so much debate between the colonial government and the Afrikaner traders regarding the legitimacy of such a toll, that it was finally abandoned and the travelers could rest there freely.

One can find many relics and remnants in the surrounding veldt. Bits and pieces of old medicine bottles, horseshoes, nuts and bolts from ox-wagons are scattered around, bearing testimony to these early settler days. An old ox-wagon has been carefully maintained and can be seen in its final resting place outside the hunting lodge. There are also two graves of the earlier settlers in the reserve, going back to 1819. One is a little girl called Dorothea Hurter, who died aged only one year old.  The owners have managed to establish contact with the living relatives of the Hurter family and obtained the original photos of the farmhouse and stories from that bygone era, which are now used in the decoration of the historic farmhouse. The tree between the boma and the pool, and many others on the Koffylaagte reserve contain seeds that were used as coffee supplements. One of the most recognised being the Karoo Acacia.

This route, which formed the old gravel road to Jansenville, stretching from Glenconnor towards the Darlington Dam, passing through the Paardepoort Pass, is now only used by the local farmers since the completion of the R75 asphalt road.

Today, thanks to the “Koffylaagte Game Lodge” and their conservation vision through tourism and wildlife, “Koffylaagte Outspan” is once again a wonderful retreat. Stripped of the original sheep camps and barbed wire and converted back to its magnificent fauna and flora, it is a place to rest your mind, body and soul, just as in the days of the early settlers.

“lying on your hammock, stretched between the acacia trees near the boma, if you close your eyes and listen carefully to the afternoon breeze coming in from the valley, you can still hear the faint creaking and groaning of the ox-wagon wheels and the smell of the coffee being brewed…….”

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