Location: South Africa » Kwazulu Natal » Natal Midlands » Midlands Drakensberg » Ixopo

Ixopo is situated in the Natal Midlands

Ixopo is a town situated on a tributary of the Mkhomazi River in the midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa and forms part of an important sugar farming, and forestry area.

Ixopo was surveyed in 1878 and was initially called Stuartstown, the Zulu name however prevailed...thanks to its perfect example of onomatopoeia - the sound of cattle squelching through the mud - provided, of course, you pronounce it with the correct click! This implied dampness refers in the main to often misty altitudes of almost 2 000m above sea level. Two 19th century churches and a seminary are still operational...while two other landmarks further enhance the areas spiritual tradition and reputation - a floodlit cross bestowing peace and goodwill on the town and, at the nearby Buddhist Retreat Centre, a tall reliquary radiating wisdom and compassion to the valleys below.

Accommodation in Ixopo

  • Kings Grant Country Retreat Accommodation in Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal originally established as a mission station for the German Trappist Monk, has been tastefully restored and decorated, salvaging its authentic charm while introducing the luxuries of todays living.
  • Ravenswyke Country House - Country House accommodation in Ixopo. Stressed? Tired of the hustle and bustle of a hectic city lifestyle? The answer is an affordable getaway to Ravenswyke Country House. This beautiful stone and brick home is set in the gentle hills and hollows of Highflats, part of Alan Patons homeland, which inspired his famous novel, Cry, the Beloved Country.

Hospitable and Lovely Hills’

Ixopo has the rare distinction of being immortalized inone of this country’s most famous works of literature. Alan Paton’s novel, ‘Cry the Beloved Country’, opens with the following lyrical description: “There is a lovely road which runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it…..’Whether or not you have encountered the story, or is’s Hollywood treatment, those heights are still lovely – and invite exploration. Many of them are cloaked in pristine natural forests and drained by rivers that have scythed rugged valleys from themselves. Driving through this territory means ranging in altitude from 400 m to a breezy, often misty 1800 m. The roads twist and climb through this hill country, at some points commanding 30 km views to every point of the compass. Situated some 81 km from Pietermaritzburg and 148 km from Durban, Ixopo is the main centre of a southern district that extends from highflats in the southeast to Donnybrook and Creighton in the northwest. The roots for a colonial town with the name of Stuartstown were put down in 1878, but the Zulu name of Ixopo prevailed. When pronounced with the correct ‘click’, you can hear the sound it describes: the squelch of cattle plodding through the mud. The tourism race to Ixopo is still young, but that doesn’t prevent folk from already offering the likes of B&B hospitality, farm holidays, farm Excursions, game viewing, birding and extending a warm welcome to visitors.


How to get there

Ixopo is located at the junction of a couple of busy roads: the R56 from Pietermarizburg via Richmond to Mzimkhulu and the Transkei; and the R612 which traverses southern Kwazulu Natal from the N2 at Park Rynie (on the south coast) via Highflats inland to Donnybrook and Bulwer. Durban 148 km, Pietermaritzburg 81 km.


Ixopo has a number of historical features, including the former Agricultural Hall, a National Monument now used as a bank; a memorial sundial in the grounds of the magistrate’s court; Dead Men’s Tree outside the Old Post Office used to carry death and funeral notices; and the Ixopo Prison which grew from the remains of an early fort in 1900. Two churches built in the 1880’s are still in use, St John the Baptist Anglican Church in High Street, and the former Methodist Church – now a church hall. The Marianthal Mission, on the road to Richmond and Umzimkulu, founded in 1887, was the first seminary for priests who had studied overseas. There are several splendid churches at Centocow near Creighton. A striking landmark on Medal Hill is a cross erected in 1972 to promote goodwill among men. It overlooks the town and is floodlit at night. The Off Saddle Hotel, built in 1878, is reputed to be the oldest licensed country hotel in the province still bearing it’s original name. A memorial to Cecil John Rhodes is located on a farm road between Ixopo and Richmond. He and his brother farmed cotton in the Mkomazi valley in 1870.


There are a number of water falls secreted along the Mzimkhulu, Mkomazi and Mtwalume rivers.


Arts & Crafts

The handiwork of an increasing number of local artists and craftspeople is on view in Ixopo shops; the sand, oil and watercolours of painter Matt Lourens, for instance, and clay models of historical buildings by Judy Lea Cox. The Weaver’s Hut specializes in woven, cotton knit rugs, while silk screened and hand painted textiles are produced by Designs for Africa.



Bird Watching

There’s a wide variety of species, including the rare Blue Swallow, red data species like the Bald Ibis and their breeding colony, the Stanley’s bustard, the invisible Blackrumped Buttonquail and magnificent Crowned Crane.


Trails and walks to the Cooper Falls, the Marriott Falls and three falls in the Hella Hella valley can be organized. The falls vary in height from 90 m to 120 m and as access is difficult, local directions, or guidance is needed. There are oribi on the farms and other game for trophy hunters. Hikes through indigenous areas such as the Soada Forest and Xumeni Forest, mountain bike, horse and pony trails can be arranged.

Accommodation in and around Ixopo

Kings Grant Country Retreat    accommodation in Ixopo
Lying in the soft farmlands of Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal, King s Grant will host you in their large guesthouse or self-catering accommodation. We specialize as a wedding venue with a spacious Tuscan-style banqueting hall, quaint St. Isidor Chapel and ench... More

Amble Inn Ixopo    accommodation in Ixopo
Amble Inn is situated on The Lodge Farm ± 2kms outside Ixopo on the R56 Main Road to Pietermaritzburg. We are a guest house with 6 Single Rooms, 6 Double Rooms and 8 Twin Rooms.The rooms are all en suite with showers and have their own T.V... More

Directory of accommodation in Ixopo