Weenen is a small rural town established by the Trekkers after avenging the masscre at Bloukrans (nearby). It is the second oldest town in KwaZulu-Natal. The Weenen Game Reserve (operated by KwaZulu Wildlife) has excellent game viewing areas and a camp site.
In Afrikaans the name means "weeping" after the defeats suffered by the Voortrekkers at the hands of the Zulus at Bloukrans and Moordspruit. 10kms from Weenen on the Muden road is an 'isivivane' - a large pile of stones six metres in diameter and one metre high. Stones were placed by travellers on the isivivane by picking up the stone with the toes of the left foot, transferring it to the right hand, spitting on it and throwing it on to the pile.
Weenen Game Reserve is administered by the KwaZulu Wildlife and covers an area of typical inland KwaZulu-Natal acacia grassland with occasional thickets.
There are extensive game viewing facilities, guided walks and environmental education for school groups at the Nyandu Bush Camp.
More than 230 species of birds have been recorded (there are two hides overlooking a dam) and the park is an excellent example of how a severely degraded habitat can be successfully rehabilitated. There are three picnic sites.
Mammals in the reserve include rhino, giraffe, hyaena, jackal, bushbuck, reedbuck, steenbok and porcupine.
Attractions in Weenen
Weenen Nature reserve
The Weenen reserve has a small two bed roomed cottage with braai facilities and its own trail and waterhole. There are 12 caravan and camping sites and a picnic site.
There is a guided walk of 8kms and three self-guided trails which pass dams.
The excellent museum (also from 1838) houses a collection of Voortrekker artifacts and was constructed by Voortrekker leader Andries Pretorius whose waterwheel is one of the exhibits.
It has previously done service as a magistrates office, post office and a prison. Between 1907 and 1983 a narrow gauge railway connected Weenen with Estcourt and provided an outlet for its produce and was thus called the "Cabbage Express'.
PO Box 13, Weenen, 3325 10.00 - 12.00 & 14.00 - 16.00 0363 41855 41901fx
The Thukela Biosphere Reserve
Thirty one private landowners have combined to establish this single unique biosphere reserve which integrates both conservation and farming.
It encompasses the Tugela, Bushmans and Bloukrans River valleys and incorporates the Weenen Nature Reserve. There are horse trails through the biosphere, game viewing and bird watching - especially the thousands of white storks that inhabit the reserve.
White water rafting and fishing are popular in the rivers and for the hunter, there is a variety of both buck and birds. The area of the reserve covers grasslands, steep forested valleys and riverine vegetation.
Buffalo, kudu, leopard, giraffe, hyena, elephant, rhino, zebra, wildebeest and many others. There are also crocodiles, pythons and monitor lizards.
For information on the biosphere: PO Box 202, Weenen, 3325. 0363 41938