LifestyleSANparks Week

Rich history hidden on the SANParks Bedrogfontein route

Local Kirkwood resident Stef Delport is passionate about the area and the history. He shared some of his knowledge with the SANParks Times.

If you ever find yourself in the little town of Kirkwood, take some time to explore the Kabouga section of the Addo Elephant National Park. The best way to fully appreciate the beauty and take in the history of the area is to take the Bedrogfontein 4×4 route all the way to Darlington Dam.

The area played a significant role in events unfolding during the Anglo Boer War.

The famous battle of Bedrogfontein took place between the Boer and British troops in this area. Jan Smuts and his commando travelled from the north (near where the Addo main camp is today). “Smuts only had 250 men and had to take on 2 000 English troops,” says Delport. Despite this, the Boers ambushed the British. Not a single Boer died in the battle, but it is believed that about 700 horses met their end here. “The old farmers talk about the terrible smell in the kloof. For about a month, nobody could enter,” says Delport.

The Bedrogfontein 4×4 trail is rated grade two to three, but there is the occasional grade five river crossing. The trail is 45km long and it is best to set an entire day aside for the trip.

You can still see traces of the battle today, but you might need someone to show you. “If you don’t know where anything happened then you won’t know what to look for,” Delport says. An old red brick ruin, still visible, served as shelter while the Boers camped and had braais underneath the surrounding milkwood trees.

Old graves, believed to be those belonging to British troops, are still visible.

The story behind Bedrogfontein’s name is just as fascinating. There is a fountain in the area, but it is difficult to find. “You can use the two constructed cement dams along the way as guide,” says Delport. “Just after the dams you will find a small valley. It looks dry, but if you walk about 50 meters, you will find the stream.” From there, the stream runs underground, leaving no trace anywhere else in the area.

Delport also guides expeditions into the area, combining his eco-expertise with his knowledge of Boer war history.

By René de Klerk


Visit the SANParks homepage to find out on which dates there will be FREE ENTRY to the national parks.

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