Tourism, Accommodation and Historical Attractions in Natal, South Africa
The Natal Battlefields
The Voortrekkers - The Early History
The Voortrekkers and the Great Trek - a Short History
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The Dutch Settlement
The Dutch established a supply store at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652 to minister to the ships trading in the Far East. By 1800, there were approximately forty thousand Dutch settlers in the Cape, most being connected by marriage.
They knew that the land in the interior probably stretched all the way to Cairo but it was almost totally terra incognito, inhabited by savages and wild animals.
Initially, there was no intention of settling the area. The 'Council of Seventeen' that ruled the Dutch East Indies Company only in 1657 reluctantly allowed a small group to settle the area after trouble was experienced obtaining grain from the local Hottentots.
Although the first settlers - along the Liesbeeck stream in Cape Town - were expected to grow grain, they easily acquired cattle from the Hottentots with brandy. The cattle bred quickly and eventually there was a push through the encircling mountains of the Cape on to the high veld of the Karoo.
The First Move to the Interior
Although the Karoo was mostly semi-desert, there were sufficient areas of lush vegetation for the cattle to thrive. The settlers found that the local inhabitants were of two races.
The Bushmen (San) who relied on gathering and hunting and the Hottentots who ran herds of cattle. The Hottentots were prepared to trade with the white settlers while the Bushmen were not.
The white settlers were not the first Europeans in the area as hunters and gangs of outlaws who plundered the native kraals preceded them.
A Trekker Farm
It took the settlers approximately sixty years to settle in the Karoo, each of them on farms of approximately 6,000 acres. Trotting a horse along each side for half an hour appropriated the farms.
However, the farms were not permanent structures. When the land was exhausted, many moved on to new areas with their stock. Many would migrate to the coastal areas each year so that the stock could utilize the lush grazing there.
Next: The Trekboer Way of Life